Have you noticed the messier your desk, your bedroom, or your dining table, the more difficult it is to stay on top of completely unrelated chores? Doing laundry gets backed up, cleaning out the basement goes on hold, and you delay putting together a decent grocery list. For some reason it all comes back to that messy bedroom.
My theory: mess clutters up your mind and any other thought that needs to be stored, processed or computed adds to that clutter — making it that much more difficult to complete.
The same goes for work. It's easy to comprehend a cluttered desk makes for a cluttered mind. An organized desk is your FIRST STEP to an organized day, week, month and year. As business professionals, being organized is the key to helping complete tasks quicker and more efficiently.
So what are these life changing tools we talk about? Nothing fancy or new, just your plain ol' faithful Status Report, Budget Control Report and Work Back Schedule. See? Nothing to write home about and something everyone can put together to help keep that production line working smoothly.
Create an excel spreadsheet and simply jot down in one column all the projects you're currently working on. And that miniscule task that isn't even worth mentioning but is due three weeks from now? Put that down too – remember this is going to be your checklist and if it's not on your list, how are you going to remember to check it off? In the next few columns add what is important to you; current status, next steps, due date, whose responsibility is it to complete the task? And last include a follow up date, even if the task isn't your responsibility. Help your team, client or vendor stay on track with a quick follow up note.
Budget Control Report
This is my favourite document. With this you'll track every project that's live, have a quick reference spot to what the original budget is, how much has been spent and what is remaining for the rest of the year. This document will keep your finance team happy and your clients on top of what's coming down the line in terms of billing and invoicing. There are several formats for this document and my go to is the following:
PROJECT | DESCRIPTION | APPROVED BUDGET | TOTAL BILLED | REMAINING AMOUNT | MONTHLY BREAK DOWN | QUARTERLY TOTAL | FULL YEAR TOTAL
Work Back Schedule
I call this document "The Lazy Man's Guide to Getting Everything Done!" (Because what women would be lazy?) Remember that status report you put together? Use it to help you put your work back schedule in order. Each project/task/tactic will have its own schedule and you need to be able to follow that to a T if you want to launch your projects on time. Again, there are several formats for a work back schedule. The simplest one to follow? Start with a task, when it needs to start, by when it should be completed and how many days it takes so at the bottom of your sheet you can add up how many working days the project takes from beginning to end.
With these three tools under your belt you are ready to conquer the world! Okay, well maybe not that far but you're much better prepared to conquer any project that needs your attention and hopefully well on the way to completing it on time and budget!
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