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Get Stuff Done

COW Blogs : Mike Cohen's Blog : Get Stuff Done
If you are like me, you have a list of things to do a mile long.

I have made numerous efforts over the years to Get Organized.

Over time however I have learned that the real secret to Getting Organized is...drumroll please...STAYING Organized. Big difference.

Ok, so I'm organized and staying organized...whoop-dee-do.

However that's great as long as you actually Get Stuff Done, and not spend all of your time on organization.

While my workstation is simply a collection of office supplies, project management tasks are not physical objects, so you need some way to keep things orderly, and a way to not have to spend a lot of time doing it.

Didn't I just say that?

Now that I have a spacious office with two distinct work areas, I have the opportunity to really get on top of project management, rather than being buried as used to be the case.

First, we have the Command Center:

I know what you're thinking - another one of Cohen's pictures of mundane subjects...
Well..yes...but...let me explain:

The markerboard + gaffer tape = something not in the office supply catalog!

I have a field for each category of project, or client, or for a specific project. The calendar covers 2.3 months, just enough time for most project schedules, plus a field for the following two months.

Could I setup an Excel spreadsheet with the same fields? Of course. But just like with file drawers, it is out of sight, out of mind unless you remember to look at it daily. This way, I cannot help but to look at it.

On the desk we have a large stack of blank note cards, which I use for daily or weekly to-do lists, telephone notes or brainstorming. These are actually the back side of a postcard that we had printed several years ago and never mailed out due to a client decision. So rather than throw away 10 pounds of 50% blank paper, I went green...or half green.

To the right we have some file folders - these are in hanging file folders. While I do not like using file drawers, if I should choose to save a folder at the conclusion of a project, the file is ready to hang. I do a folder for in-progress projects.

Immediately to the left of the Command Center is Mission Control:

Yes, I just posted a picture of my laptop. Real exciting. Let's break it down.

Two monitors on a Premiere or Final Cut workstation is a no-brainer. But two monitors on a office computer is priceless. E-mail is always active on the right, Word, Firefox or even Premiere can sit on the Laptop display.

The rest is self-explanatory - but the goal here is to avoid piles of stuff. Neatly organized stuff, including e-mail folders, goes a long way in helping to STAY organized.

Finally we have The Warehouse:

You got it - a wall unit. The shelf below is the visual file. I have never been a fan of file drawers. If I don't need something accessible easily, I probably don't need it at all. Most paper falls into one of three categories:

1. Garbage - throw away immediately
2. Short-term - Use it today, then save until project ends
3. Long-term but not urgent - Contracts or business matters - save indefinitely but generally do not need very often

I try to print little, but inevitably you generate some paper.

So the visual file is for category 2 or 3 - unless the project has a file folder. Generally once paper goes in it stays in. Thus the previously mentioned file folders are for in-progress paperwork - papers I refer to on a regular basis as a project inches along. Using the visual file for this purpose would be impractical, unless of course you store the file folders in the visual file, but you can't fit a square peg in a rectangular hole.

Finally on the next shelf up are the project drives. We save everything. That's all well and good, but you need to keep a list of where to find everything, otherwise you have a bunch of paperweights. I try to keep this updated and saved on the desktop of all computers.

Well, thus far I have merely described the way to get and stay organized.

How do you actually get stuff done? Easy - get organized and stay organized, then all you need to do is update very small pieces of the puzzle - schedules, appointments, delegated tasks - freeing you up to actually do project tasks, delegate what you do not have time to do yourself, and of course devote time to developing new projects to add to the mix.

In other words, if you offload the burden of remembering project management details from your brain to a system, then you can naturally use this extra energy to Get Stuff Done. In theory.

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Jun 12, 2009 at 2:18:04 pm project, management

I have a passion for my job, which entails training for medical professionals such as surgeons, nurses and administrators, not to mention various industries.

Technology is great, but how you apply your skills is what pays the bills.

Years ago I canceled my Media 100 support contract upon discovering what a treasure trove of helpful advice can be found on the Creative COW website. I am proud to be a part of this fantastic community.

In my blog I talk a little about media production, a lot about travel and workflow, and occasionally about cooking, nature and my four-legged friends.

Follow me on Twitter: med_ed_mike

I'm also on LinkedIn if you can't get enough of me!


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