I am a list nazi. I feel that my life has order when it has a list attached to it. If you’ve seen the movie, “I Don’t Know How She Does It“, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, it shows you how lists can give a semblance of organization to an otherwise chaotic life. Like SJP, I have a mental list, a written list, a computerized one too… and post-its galore! Sometimes there are just way too many projects and way too many lists so there should be a “mother-of-all” lists. I have a personal to-do list that is separate from my home list and business Projects List. For this post, I will share some stuff about my business Projects Lists.
One of the many valuable things that I learned from my corporate stint is to always have a Projects List. We even had a Global Projects Management Seminar that we were all required to attend. The backbone of any succesful launch is this Projects List that we all go back to. It serves as the document that distributes accountability and reinforces responsibility. The list enables the breaking down of tasks into pieces in order to manage it well. There is a logical sequencing of tasks that helps us to determine the priority and urgency in order to finish a project in stages.
For instance, a project that I am currently working on are product line extensions. I have a cologne and alcohol line now that is not yet nationally distributed but our current customers are already asking for new product lines. In going about this, all products that were qualified during brainstorming will now be pitched into the ideation stage. For this, there is an ideation success criteria that once approved, will move on to development, commercialization, and launch stage. For the ideas that didn’t make it to the cut, they are all placed in a “Backburner” list. Maybe the timing isn’t right for these ideas or R&D can’t deliver, or maybe the investment or risk is too big to invest in it… in short, they are simply not doable now… but who’s to say they are not great ideas that might be launched at a later time? 🙂
When you make your list, always keep the end in mind. What are your goals and what are the things that you need to do to reach them. Write down your tasks. A tip that I got from business school is to state it with a VERB first. For instance, EMAIL R&D regarding product registration update. The verbs that we see serves as a CALL TO ACTION that immediately tells us what to do at first glance. This column is basically the To-Do section. For each idea, an action step has to be highlighted. Next, each person has to “own” their responsibility towards making each project come to life. And what about all the notes you’ve been taking down? This is where the reference column comes in. Place any project-related handouts, notes, minutes, web sites, and any other related documents that you may need to refer to as the project progresses. Other stuff not needed or not yet needed can be placed in the Backburner Items, as stated above.
Lastly, edit,edit, edit!!! Go back to your list every once in a while. Tick off the things you’ve finished, scrap out the dead-end materials and always rewrite your list. It helps you focus, puts you on track and more importantly, it simplifies! It also helps you to remember what you need to do constantly, that it sometimes comes out in the form of a nagging reminder voice inside your head. LOL 😀
We do what we can to make our projects come to life. We all have different methods of doing so. Personally, I am a fan of writing it down and having folders per project. I know we live in a paperless society, but for me, this what makes me move. Seeing those papers and sticky notes makes me annoyed at the clutter and makes me want to clean it out by getting a go at them. Buy those techni-colored folders and binders if you have to… whatever gets your creative juices running… and running fast! If there’s one thing I’ve learned the past few years and how many failed ideas is that once you have a great idea you have to act on it fast! Always remember that if you were able to come up with a certain idea — somewhere out there, someone is also thinking about it. It’s a matter of who can get it to market first and market it right!
I will post a sample projects list that I am currently working on… as soon as I figure out how to attach files on my posts. 😛 Post sample Projects List on startupbabies blog — now included in my personal Projects List! 🙂