I use mindmapping to keep my project lists. As a reformed/former project manager, I’m loathe to use project management software. I think Basecamp is abysmal to update. I think it’s too heavy. I think task lists don’t let us think the right way about what matters to us. Instead, I’m using mindmaps, because I can break out my thoughts by priority in a non-linear way.
After working through my redrawing experience, I realized that I had to batten down on what I was going to offer as a business. I broke it into media / education / events. With that in mind, I now have a much better way to think of how I’m spending my time. As part of this, I decided to take anything that came in from various sources and push it through the following five filters. If they don’t fall into these “buckets,” they get passed on to other people.
- Media – Does this serve a media project?
- Media – Is this a sponsorship or sales relationship?
- Education – Is this something for an ebook, course, or speech?
- Education – Is there a community for this?
- Events – How will this impact time commitments and away-from-home?
Now, your buckets will be different. They come from what you consider your work. It’s not a difficult process, but it requires that you choose to stick to it.
Start With the Big Ideas
At the beginning of the year, I wrote down my 3 words for 2010. In this, I decided what I’d make my major goals and focus for 2010. In my case, it’s “Ecosystems, Owners, Kings.” I’ll explain quickly, but it shouldn’t matter to your process.
Ecosystems – no longer will I create just random material for material’s sake. In my new project (not yet launched), everything serves a project/community. I’m writing ebooks that flow into courses that flow into online communities. Everything has a place. So, my projects now work as ecosystems instead of just random media making.
Owners – I’m cruddy at creating discipleship. I can’t run every project, so I need owners. In 2010, my goal is to build projects that can be led by others. My new company will have lots of that. I also hired an executive director to help own that. At New Marketing Labs, I’m taking steps to make owners.
Kings – On one side, this is self-improvement. I must be kingly. I must conduct myself accordingly. I must care for my body (eating better, cycling, etc). On the other side, I have to consider my position when taking actions, so that I don’t cause unintended consequences.
All that to say, I start the process of better management by having a huge focus for the year. It drives the ways I spend my time.
Make Big Focus Areas
Yours might be: project work, customer service, marketing. I don’t know your business. But find 3-5 main areas of focus for what you’re doing, and then build from that. It’s best if you have goals, measurable goals. For instance, I have revenue and time goals on my various media and education projects. I’ll launch 3 course communities by ____. I’ll get 100 paid members by ____. That kind of thing.
In my case, my BIG focus areas are media, education, and ops (never forget to have a bucket for stuff that just HAS to get done). Yours will be different. But with those big focus areas, I now have a way to separate out what tasks I’m working on and how they relate.
Then Go as Deep as You Want
Most of the time, I don’t list out every step, because I get bored writing them down. Other times, I list out all the steps because I know I’m going to forget something. While writing this post, I realized that a few things were missing, so I had to go in and give myself more explicit notes.
But because I’m using a mindmapping software ( I use MindNode on my Mac, but there are tons of such apps, so pick the one you like), I can roll them up or down and look at the highlights instead of the details, if I want. It’s a preference thing.
Stay on Target
The best way to keep yourself moving towards your goals is to write them down and keep them in front of you all the time. That’s how I’m getting where I’m getting. You’ll see that as a very common trait in people who are successfully tackling their dreams. Stay on target, and you’ll see the rewards.
What’d I miss?