Monday, May 1, 2017

Does Your ToDo List Look Like This?

Does your ToDo list look like the picture above? Sometimes mine does. 

Above are the paintings I'm working on at the moment. Then there are show entries, gallery stuff, teaching plans, and the usual blog, Facebook, and Instagram posts to organize. Definitely multiple projects.

With multiple projects going at the same time it's easy to fall into a pattern of jumping back and forth between projects, and to feel like you're not getting anything done on any of them. Or, you could have the opposite problem, spending too long focusing on one, and then missing deadlines on the others. Here's a way to solve these problems.

This is what you’ll need:
- a pack of sticky notes (multiple colors are more fun)
- a pen
- something to stick them to (the fridge, a white board, a piece of cardboard)

Write down each project and the tasks required to complete it on sticky notes. It might look like this.

That's nice, but it's overwhelming. So set the project name stickies aside, and gather all the stickies for the tasks into a pile, it doesn't matter what the order is.

Take a sticky from the pile, any one will do, and put it in the middle of the board.

Grab another sticky and compare it to the one on the board. Which one is more important to do this week? Put the new sticky on the board either above (if it’s more important), or below (if it’s less important) than the original sticky.

Take another sticky from the pile. Compare it to the two on the board. Which one is more important to do this week? Put the new sticky on the board either above the other two (if it’s more important), or in between the other two (if it’s in between in importance), or below the first sticky (if it’s less important).

Now you’re getting the idea. Do this over and over until all the tasks you’d like to do are lined up, one over the other.

You can do this process for any time frame. For my art business, it works best to do it once a week on Monday morning. It puts everything in front of me, in order of priority. Once I've got all the stickies on the board, I can take a stab at drawing a line below what must get done this week, or what I think I can get done this week. If something doesn't get done, I use the sticky again for the next week.

For more details on the process, how to estimate, and how to make sure you're not planning too much for your timeframe, see the full process on my website here. And of course, this will work for any kind of project, it's not art specific. I learned it managing software projects.

Reference: Johanna Rothman, "Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects"

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