Getting Organized – Managing Priorities
As a coach, one of the things I need to find out early in the relationship with my clients is how they organize their world around what they want, where they want to be, who they want to be, and how they keep their ideas, thoughts and dreams from getting lost.
Many Roads Lead to Rome
Recently I was brought up a little short over what I thought was a simple organizational task. A client had a new project that needed to be completed in three months. I quickly realized that the didactic template of organization I had learned to follow over many years was completely in the way and overwhelming for this client. Everything I thought would bring a calming order to the process created anxiety instead.
I remembered my initial coaching responsibility which is “listening to understand” the person who is seeking my advice. So, I relaxed and made my questions more open-ended to get more information. I also watched for clues as to how this person kept track of what was going on at this moment, now. (Incidentally, I gratefully remembered that I’ve never been entirely successful with doing things the “right way” either.) So, we thought that since ideas come quickly and are fleeting, what is a quick, easy and maybe even fun way to capture them – post-its™ might be.
And, since projects happen in time, all the post-its™ just need to be stuck to a big calendar so we could catch the thought and place it in time. Hey, I’d love to hear other creative organizing strategies for big projects that don’t require an exuberant use of technology.:-)
Existing Time Constraints
This client works in an educational-type setting, so we started by naming and capturing all of the known time constraints in the environment that didn’t have to do with the project.
- Standing class times
- Standing Faculty and Parent Meetings
- Public and School Holidays
Then any available time left over was clearer as to where the logistics of the project could find a home and be applied.
The Devil is in the Details
Then we did a “brain dump” of ALL of the elements and sub-elements we could think of that would be required. Nothing was too small. The project had 4 general parts whose outcomes would come together at the end of the 3 months. As ideas flowed, we placed each thought into one of the 4 general parts.
What Comes First?!
A secondary sort in each general part followed. One part at a time, all by itself. If there was confusion or a lack of clarity about individual priorities, we made use of a simple paired comparison analysis form.
The GPS Navigator is in place
In about 3 hours, a road map for the next three months was in a “draft” state ready for execution. We can now take a weekly look at the successes or changes needed and arrive at the due date with maybe a little more excitement than anxiety.
I’d love to hear how you are helping yourself or other organize projects. John Hertel