Last week I took a listen to Cesar Abeid‘s PM for the Masses Podcast episode 3 a with David Allen, author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Sure, the post is from 2013, but I’m a relatively new Project Manager and listening to the podcast has already revealed positive results.

For the last several weeks, I’ve attempted to find different ways to keep track of tasks. I’ve tried my hand at bullet journaling, putting tasks in our CRM (Hubspot), and even good old fashioned lined notebook paper with “To-do” written at the top.

The podcast episode reminded me of what’s important.

“Your head is for having ideas, not holding them” -David Allen

I knew that I needed to write down my notes, write down my tasks, and set myself reminders. So, I went back to my old system of writing each one of my tasks into Google Calendar. I get a place for notes and I can schedule how long I plan to work on any one thing. This is great for someone like me who doesn’t know when to pull his head up from his desk and call a project “done”.

The other reason that this has proved useful is another one of David’s points

“Get it off your mind = get it off your chest” -David Allen

Often times, I’ve found myself thinking over and over about a project. Just last week, I was handed a new blog to launch for a well established client and told “go”. Sure, I’ve launched other products such as portals and LexBlog Twenty Blogs, but they were new, fresh, and had little expectation. With this well-established client, I found I just needed to schedule myself time to research them out.

So come Monday, I did exactly that. I spent a couple of hours familiarizing myself with their other blogs, reading through our relationship with them, and looking for anything of interest. I wrote down everything meaningful and could start the project fully prepared.

The last key element from the podcast that has proven useful “avoid implicit” when you would normally think of “explicit” as David Allen suggested.

I’ve been wading through older projects getting as many cleared up or cleared out as possible. Some of these projects have been going on for years, literal years.

“start where you are” -David Allen

I found who at the company seemed like they had the most ownership over a few specific blogs. I asked them “What percentage are we at for completion? Nothing fancy, just a ‘gut check'”. They found that out of the 6 I had them look at: 4 were “90%”, 1 was “Just starting”, and 1 was “already done and just needed to be closed”.

For the 4, we set a launch date and drafted a well-written email explaining that we will just go ahead and launch the blogs. That, if they wanted to cancel, they could say something now.

The hard part will be the other route i.e. when a blog is >50% and has some serious blockers. That is a bridge I will cross when I get there. I don’t need to worry about it and I haven’t needed to write anything down. Or to jot down the most important process that Mr. Allen explained:

Write it all down-

  1. Capture
  2. Clarify
  3. Organize
  4. Reflect

I know I have a lot to learn, but it’s great that I can organize my learning before getting too entangled into details.

If you get a chance, follow David Allen on Twitter at @gtdguy or Cesar Abeid at @cesarabeid. I’ll be catching up with the PM for the Masses Podcast for the coming months, but will try to find some other helpful resources as I dive headlong into the PM world.

As always, I hope you found something to add to your everyday rhetoric repertoire!