One important tool you could be using in your work projects could make all the difference in the world.
It’s a project journal you can make from any notebook or planner. Actually, I use a padfolio like this one by Day-Timer. Regardless, if done correctly it could be a difference maker in how quickly and easily you find success..
Here are the keys to making an effective project journal:
1) Commit to One Project Goal
Begin with the step most often overlooked in project planning, having a clear and tangible purpose your business hopes to accomplish. This allows you to accurately plan and prioritize all activities going forward, including tasks, meetings and lunch breaks… if you have time.
Sit down by yourself or with your team and write down the following items in your project journal:
- Expectations: describe in detail the end result you hope to achieve
- Project objectives: create clear and measurable targets for each day
- Past performance issues: areas that may create wasted time or effort
- Key project priorities: tasks where a bulk of work effort will yield the highest reward
2) Plan Your Steps
In just a few minutes of brainstorming, your project journal will become the roadmap to getting things done. Dedicate one full page to listing all your project-related activities.
- Major action steps: list and rank all necessary tasks you can think of
- Estimate task times: after each task, list times in quarter hour increments
- Set deadlines: hard and fast dates, written down in permanent ink!
- Assign and schedule: create task appointments for your team, or yourself
- Project review points: list stopping points to check on the goal you set above
3) Record your time
In possibly its most valuable role, your project journal is now free to serve as a running record for all your project-related activities.
Anyone involved in a work project, and especially those running a small business or home business can benefit from using their project journal with these three easy steps:
- Write down a one word topic, such as “meeting”
- Write down the subject area(s) covered in bullet points
- List the activity time, sticking to 15-minute increments
You’ll want to keep records of all project-related tasks, meetings and conversations, online research, phone calls, and brainstorm sessions.
Here’s an example:
Using your project journal for time tracking helps you:
- Track your steps: it creates an archival project record, a useful starting-point reference for the next morning, and the next year.
- Evaluate your productivity: a project journal helps you assess your use of time and resources. It’s also a great way to impress your boss during your next work review.
- Fight off procrastination: project journals have a procrastination fighting effect. Writing down time spent on activities just forces you to be more accountable.
Make a project journal part of your project skillset. It will keep you on track, on deadline, and, it will stop important details from falling through the cracks.
Have you used a project journal and had success? Let us know what your tips are in the comments section.