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Category Archives: Getting Things Done

Five project management tips

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Taking on a big project can be intimidating. Most big projects are not simple to manage. There are many pieces to the puzzle, and the workflow is never completely linear. Projects usually involve multiple people and have several deadlines that have to be met in order for the next part of the project to move forward.

Here are five tips to help you successfully manage your next big project and keep the ball rolling.

Visual Project Mangement software, DropTask.

Visual Project Mangement software, DropTask.

1. Break the project up into categories or key components. More than likely there are parts of the project that can be worked on at the same time as others, and there will be other critical components that have to wait until others are completed. Let’s say you are launching a new product. One key component of that will be packaging design, and the other key component will be product design. Each one can be worked on simultaneously, but there are also certain aspects of the packaging design that can’t be completed until the product design is finalized. So, don’t let the completion dictate the start of one project when it can be started simultaneously.

2. Map out key due dates. Record every critical due date into your calendar. Going back to the product launch example. Many different things have to fall into place to get the product to market: product finalization, packaging finalization, turning in art work to the printer, producing the product, packaging the product, and delivering the product to distribution. All of these key time sensitive stages of the product launch have to happen at just the right time. So, recording down all the critical dates is crucial to a successful project.

3. Know who is responsible for what. Each key component of a project will have a person responsible for getting that done. It’s your job as the project manager to follow up with them and make sure things are moving forward. If getting packaging printed for your new product launch is a critical step you need to ensure proper communication is made with the printer to ensure they will be able to complete their end of the project on time. Frequent follow-ups are key to make sure a project happens on time.

4. Visual Project Management. I’ve mentioned KanBan in the past for visual task management, and I recently discovered DropTask for visual project management. I have been putting both of them to good use for the project I am currently managing. DropTask allows you to visually see each component of your project, assign deadlines, importance, and people to particular tasks. The white board method works well too in a small office, but the nice thing about DropTask is you can update it straight from your computer, make notes, and communicate with other internal team members involved with the project.

5. Communication is key. The most important component of successful project management is communication! As the project manager it’s your job to communicate with the team and make sure each aspect of the project is moving forward, and remind people of critical deadlines, and offer support if needed.

Project management can seem daunting, but as long as a bit of structure is put into place, managing the project will be easy. That doesn’t mean it still won’t be stressful at times, but with timelines in place, roles defined, and a visual course mapped out, your project is sure to be a success.

Time is your most valuable asset

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Time is an asset

Time is an asset!

Time is your most valuable asset. As an entrepreneur or business owner time is in many ways more valuable than money, and you should be spending your time on high value priorities that will drive your company forward.

Chances are you spend a lot of your time on lower priority tasks that could be delegated. Something that takes several hours a week out of your time just might be something that another team member could do just as well as you, if not better.

Time is something that cannot be gained back once it’s lost, so it makes perfect sense that you would delegate lower priority tasks in order to serve the greater overall vision of your organization. Lets say your goal is to get your widget into over 1,000 retail locations across the United States. One of your primary goals as a small business owner would be getting sales. This means a large chunk of your time should be spent on trying to gain new accounts, but you are currently spending a lot of time answering customer emails that come in through your website. You are better off delegating the emails to somebody on your team and getting on the phone to make sales calls.

The 80% rule that applies to delegating a task, also applies to time. 80% of your time should be spent on things that are key to the vision of your company. They other 20% should be spent on simple operational type tasks, and delegating the things that get in the way of the big picture vision of your growing business.

If you are unsure what tasks fall into the 80% category it might be time to do some strategic thinking and figure out what your companies’ top priorities are. It would also be a good idea to track your time throughout the course of a week and figure out just how much time you are spending on given tasks. Then at the end of the week calculate just how much time you spent on high priority tasks that move your vision forward.

And remember, time is your most valuable asset. Guard it with care and learn to delegate so that you are free to work ON your business rather than in it.

Just jot it down

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Great ideas are fleeting. That’s why it’s important to write down any and every idea that comes into your mind. You never know which one will evolve into your next big project. Even if the idea seems ridiculous or silly, write it down; something else might evolve from it.

I always carry around two things for taking notes: One is my Moleskine journal, and the other is my iPhone. I have a strong preference for physically writing things down. I feel that it helps those ideas stick.

If you are on the go your iPhone is the next best thing. Simply ask Siri to record a note for you, or open up Evernote and type it in. It really doesn’t matter what piece of technology you use to capture your thoughts, just make sure you write it down, other wise you will forget.

Our minds are only capable of remembering so many things. We have millions of things to-do, from meetings, to responding to email, to paying the bills, to strategic planning; that is why it’s imperative that you write everything down. Our days are filled with things that require our minds to work. It’s difficult to remember to run payroll, much less that great idea you had while walking from your car to a meeting.

Simply put, our minds are only capable of storing so much information. Writing down all your minds random thoughts and ideas is so important because we are bombarded with clutter – we will certainly forget.

Delegate using the 80% rule

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Delegating is one of the hardest things to do as an entrepreneur. But in reality letting go is what we find so hard. It’s not that we don’t want to delegate, it’s that we fear somebody else won’t and can’t do as good of a job as we can. I’m guilty of this myself. In the early stages of starting Bearded Brothers I had a hard time delegating and transferring over responsibilities to my team. I feared that nobody was going to do as good of job as I was going to do, there were even responsibilities that I actually enjoyed doing, but just didn’t want to let go of, even though they were things another person could easily do.

When I was struggling to start delegating responsibilities I was even aware of the 80% rule. The rule states if you can find and train somebody to do the job at least 80% as well as you can then it’s time to delegate. Even though I knew that I didn’t want to believe it was true.

But hindsight is 20/20. Now that Bearded Brothers is growing and thriving I have delegated lots of responsibilities, and it’s one of the smartest things I have ever done as a startup entrepreneur. Learning to delegate has freed up valuable time so I am able to focus on growing and expanding the business. I still do plenty of day-to-day operations type stuff, but even a lot of that I’m starting to pass on to other team members.

It can be extremely difficult to let go of duties in your business that you value and deem as important, but the reality of it is you can’t grow your business on your own. Delegating is 100% necessary for growth, and is the best thing you will ever do as a business owner. I promise, you will see immediate results as soon as you transfer responsibility, especially on time consuming responsibilities.

Distractions are the enemy of greatness

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Distractions are the enemy of greatness

Smartphone Background (Optimized for iPhone 6, click on image to download)

Distractions are the enemy of greatness. We live in a world FULL of distractions: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and games on our smartphones are just a few that come to mind.

Distractions do the following…

  1. Keep you from meeting your goals, or at the very least hold you back
  2. Hamper your ability to serve your customers well
  3. Get you out of a productive workflow (productivity killer)
  4. Prevent you from doing bigger and better things
  5. Stifle your creativity
  6. Limit your ability to think and come up with fresh ideas
  7. Keep you from solving problems and working through challenges
  8. Hold you back from breaking down walls and doing amazing things

Those are just a few of the negative outcomes of allowing distractions to creep into your workday.

Focus is key to bringing about success and great things, so it only makes sense that distractions are the enemy of greatness. So, turn off that smartphone, log off Facebook, and get to work accomplishing amazing tings.

References: Entrepreneur on Fire Episode 733 with Jon Gordon