18 June 2012

Keeping track of projects

As a freelance writer, it's important to keep track of projects, especially if you have many "small" clients. I've tried different methods for keeping track of my projects from week to week (even day to day).

For a while, I was using spreadsheets to keep track of what projects were active, what phase of the project I was on, and when it was due. It was fine, but if I forgot to update the spreadsheets, things got jumbled and frustrating. So I abandoned that.

I've found what works for me is task lists and calendars, just as it works in my personal life. As soon as I get a project, I write the deadline on my calendar. Then, when I use my calendar to make my task list each week, I can see what deadlines are coming so I know what I need to work on and when. I have one task list that mixes home and work life, but since I work from home and those two aspects of my life are so interrelated, it makes more sense to me to list it that way. In addition, any meetings or appointments I have get written in the top margin of the task list page. As the week goes on, I add to the task lists, amend them, move things around, and generally make a mess of the pages. But it makes sense to me, and they help me get things done.

In addition to having my task lists, which I keep on my desk, I use my calendar for appointments, meetings, and deadlines. If there's a particularly important task I need to get done (email a sample to a client or call to move an appointment), I write those tasks on my calendar, as well. Once I have my weekly task list, I use my calendar to divide it into daily task lists. My planner has monthly and weekly pages, so I use the daily spaces on the weekly pages for  my daily task lists. It gets just as messy as my weekly task list pages, but having everything in my calendar helps me see what's going on and what's coming.

I've tried using digital calendars and organizers. I have a BlackBerry, and I've tried using a combination of the calendar and task list apps that came with it to keep myself organized, and know that I'd always have it with me. But I'm the type of person that has to write things down or I'll forget them. So as much as I'd like to use spreadsheets or something else to keep track of my projects, I just can't. I've tried, and it doesn't work for me. It's more important for me to find a system that works for me than to use something that's technologically advanced or whatever. So I'll stick to paper and ink, and help contribute to the materials used to make recycled paper products.

How do you keep track of your projects?


  1. I use the GTD system of project lists. At home I keep them organised using Google Tasks and Google Calendar.

    At work I use Microsoft Outlook's calendar and task functions.

    I'm the exact opposite. I have to have everything in digital format. For me it's about mobility more than anything else since it all syncs to my phone.

  2. I liked the idea of mobility, which is why I tried going digital, but I just couldn't do it. So I make sure my purse is big enough for my calendar. ::grin::


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