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« Getting Going Again: Day 2 Report | Main | Getting Going Again - Day 1 Report »

Project Management

There’s been quite a bit of discussion on this site in the Comments and the Discussion Forum about the best ways to manage projects using the Do It Tomorrow techniques. The word “project” covers everything from writing an article about fly-fishing to building a bridge from the English mainland to the Isle of Wight. Do It Tomorrow is not intended to be a project planning manual, and so much of what is involved in a major project is far beyond its scope. What it is intended to address is how you manage yourself within a project - or multiple projects.

The key to managing yourself within projects is your Task Diary. You can use it for all sorts of project related activity, especially for keeping track of when actions fall due (which is not the same as the deadline for completing the action).

One very important aspect of using the Task Diary is that you need to put plenty of “project management” type tasks in it. It’s a great mistake to use it only for concrete actions such as “Call Pete”, “Place monthly order for supplies”, “Draw up budget”.

The sort of tasks I am talking about here begin with these sorts of verbs:

Think about…


Discuss… with …




You can probably think of more for yourself.

When I blogged yesterday about getting my business going again, the very first action I put in my Task Diary concerning it was “Think about the future of my business”.

Remember: Thinking is the most important action a manager does, and using your Task Diary allows you easily to translate that thinking into action.

Buy Do It Tomorrow

Reader Comments (8)

Hi Mark
As you can probably surmise, I'm using your site as a monitored respite from my work....of the WORST kind...chasing after someone with a lighter directed at his arse to do his work upon which my progress is inextricable hinged! GRRRRRRRRRR.......

This project post is a keeper! So many followers of your system don't seem to realize that the key to it is in knowing that the idealogy behind it is in planning and managing our attention and efforts to both initiate and propel forward our aims whatever they might be....
I desperately hope that they read this post and finally get it! I sometimes get haggard trying to relay this thought in discussions....where they are looking for a magic bullet in a rule, rather than in their own intentionality! At least, that's what I came away with. DIT is a simple system with both plan and rule that guides my attention and efforts....i.e. my intentionality (including the less inspiring which you offer viable patches and workarounds for those times as well!...believe me, I use them on a regular basis! LOL! *blush* But it's no longer a looming, pervasive problem, only a short-lived one (yet persistantly recurring for me....especially with tasks like today's! LOL!)

click the button or walk away, vickie...back to fighting corporate ineptness....GRRRRRRRR!
February 21, 2008 at 17:47 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
Yes, I sympathise!

How about the following task for your Task Diary?

"Think about how to fight corporate ineptness"
February 21, 2008 at 18:29 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hi Mark
LOL LOL LOL Believe me, I've wrestled with this one for years! It seems to me that ineptness and apathy of others is outside my sphere of influence unless I'm willing to complain to someone who does have that sort of influence! LOL! My rx:
1. use patience and understanding to communicate (or at least feign it) Be a good sport about it for awhile (agin, feining might be necessary! LOL!)

If that doesn't work....

2. If the above doesn't have any impact, again, use patience and understanding to *ask* a supervisor for assistance (cloaking anger and frustration is a must..hence, using the monitored breaks to cool my head! LOL!)

If that doesn't work....

3. lather, rinse, and repeat a few more times if time/deadlines permit......

If that doesn't work...

4.Fire them if that would help...If I must use them and them only.... Hire a lawyer! LOL!
My little lighter under their arse is minimal in comparison to the blow torch a lawyer uses....LOL!

February 21, 2008 at 18:43 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
Hi Mark...
Thank God...two more minutes and I get to close shop!
Upon coming back to my previous post, I realized a couple of things. I've only used two lawyers to help me....and both times I waited far too long to engage their services. I'm very loathe to get anybody in trouble! I'm willing to tear my hair out for long periods of time before I'm willing to bring out the big guns......sort of like I'm forcing my own hand by allowing the frustation to build up to a "me or them" battle cry!

People say I come off as very maleable and easy to get along with....maybe these traits aren't good in all settings....I seem to give the benefit of doubt far longer than most people I know....

Any suggestions or does this fall into the category of "This too will pass....just a small matter in the grander scheme of things"???

February 21, 2008 at 19:01 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
The best way of dealing with other people's poor time management is good follow-up combined with a carefully graduated escalation of response. The Task Diary is an excellent way of managing this.

And don't forget that you don't do people any favours by letting them get away with things. All you are doing is confirming them in their lack of effectiveness.
February 22, 2008 at 10:14 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hi Mark
Thank you for your quick reply. It registers in my mind as a great solution.......yet, I'm embarrassed to admit that I have absolutely no references in my brain for this! *blush* Do you know of any books I could read to understand and then learn how to think in graduated demands?

Being an artist made me totally independent. Being a subordinate in other careers made me efficient and dependable. Nowhere in my life have I ever had to learn this type of thinking or behaving. *blush*

Is there a direction you could point me toward, better yet, a specific recommendation? Learning this would be a GREAT CHALLENGE to undertake....I love choosing things to learn, setting up a learning schedule and doing the program......I never even considered learning about this sort of thing.....

February 22, 2008 at 15:50 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
Hi, Vickie

No, I don't know of any specific books on this subject though I'm sure they exist.

A good example of an escalated response would be the standard method for enforcing boundaries:

First establish what the boundary is and inform the other party what your boundary is and get their agreement.

When (not if!) they transgress the boundary, you have to enforce it by escalating the response as follows:

1) inform them that they are transgressing the boundary. ("You are doing x. You agreed that you wouldn't do it")

2) request them to stop. "Please stop doing x. You agreed that you wouldn't do it"

3) demand that they stop. "You are doing x. If you don't stop doing it, I will leave"

4) leave the situation.
February 23, 2008 at 10:17 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hi Mark,

Just like to say I really like the perspective of 'managing yourself within a project or multiple projects' as such. I have never really thought about it that way.

I think to a large extent there is somewhat of a disconnected view. That although you created the project, planned the project and you are working on the project. You perhaps don't think of yourself as a fundamental part of the project. Until you mentioned it, I had actually never thought of it in that way.

I find that puts quite a different view on projects, how do I manage myself within a project? Hmm, a very interesting question and something new to think about. Thanks.

All the best

February 28, 2008 at 19:18 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Wynn

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