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Eight Steps to Create Your Own Project Management Flow

When the elevator is broken and you have to take the stairs…. 

You have to climb them….

One step at a time.

How do you launch a big project? 

One step at a time.

You’re a visionary. 

You’ve got ideas flowing nonstop.

You have no capacity to integrate.

You’re at a tipping point. 

You’re at max capacity.

How do you get all of your ideas on paper, broken down, assessed and evaluated to see if they can legitimately be created?

You need systems and processes.

Did that hurt?

I know for some it does. I felt you cringe.

For creatives, those words can cause pain sometimes; especially when you don’t already have those systems and processes in place.

The idea of setting up systems and processes can feel arduous and daunting, but when you have an expert who can capture your vision and big picture ideas it’s painless.

Often times, as a visionary and creative you just keep trying to figure out your marketing and messaging, but you’re literally spinning your tires in the mud. 

Please stop. 

If you were to take a step back, stop being a one man/woman show and hire an expert; you would be able to start moving forward.

Let me tell you about one of my clients. She’s an incredible being. We are working on a major project. She’s been working on this project for 5 years. She had a marketing company doing a ton of work for her over the last couple of years, but while the branding is gorgeous the marketing was actually missing the mark.

For the last 5 years she’s been spinning her wheels. Don’t get me wrong. She’s accomplished a ton, but she was missing very key systems and processes that were not in place to move everything forward. 

She had content EVERYWHERE. No consistent messaging. Her marketing team wasn’t actually posting content with intention, so it’s caused a bit of a mess that we are in the process of cleaning up.

Again, my client is brilliant. Highly creative. Impressively so.

She was just completely out of her depth when it came to systems and processes. We are actively creating her systems and processes. We have all of her content contained in one space, so we can easily find everything when needed. We are now able to move her projects forward and bring on a new marketing team that will transition in smoothly with the new direction. So what took 5 years before will take less than a year now.

Here’s what you can do to get started if you are in a similar situation. This is really a simple process, but not necessarily an easy process if this is out of the norm for you. 

Trust me, if you do this, it will remove so much of that overwhelm and stress that you’re feeling right about now.

  1. Set up a Project Management Tool

There are tons of resources out there. I personally use AirTable, Basecamp, Slack and Trello for different clients along with Google Drive. I know there are many who use Asana and Dropbox as some of their main tools. It doesn’t matter what you use. The point is to find one that works for you and how you think and operate. Ideally, you will want a tool that you can use with a team. Some of these platforms have a cost when you bring on more than one or two people. Do your homework and evaluate what your needs are.  

 

2. Create Tabs, Boards, Cards, Folders for Each Project

If you have 2 projects or 20 projects, set up a file for each one that you can begin to build a structure and system within. Any of the tools above you will be able to do this. Each platform has different vernacular, but the point is to create a file for each project. 

 

3. Define Your Goal for Each Project

When this idea came to you what made you light up about it? What do you want to accomplish? What is your BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal)? Do you have short term goals and long term goals? Really get clear on this project and lay it out in the description in your file. This will help any team members that you bring on to understand and grasp your vision quickly and create more concise questions as needed. You may find as your get in deeper on your goals for each project they may not light you up as much as they did originally. You may find that you want to backburner some of your ideas. Others may burn hotter and brighter and you might have just found your magic key!

 

4. Break Down Your Projects One by One

This next step is crucial and tedious. Take the time to really think about each project individually. Don’t think about the whole just yet. What will it take to get this one project to completion? Create a list of tasks. Cover all your bases from intake forms to community building to marketing to sales, etc. The number of items doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you cover all the tasks that you believe are relevant to completing the project. Here’s the thing with this piece, don’t go down the rabbit hole yet. Stay high level on this list building.

 

5. Create Action Steps

Here’s the rabbit hole. Take each item on your task list and break down every action step that you believe is needed to accomplish this task or goal. Again, the quantity doesn’t matter. It’s all about making sure you have everything covered that you believe is relevant. 

 

6. Assignments

Now that you have each project broken down, who’s going to do the work? You need to have a team in place. You need to sit down with you team to discuss your projects and assess if there is anything missing or needing to be removed. If you have a team of experts, hopefully they are helping you create the list in the first place. If not, have them take the time to review the project(s) and make sure they understand what you want to accomplish. As the experts, they may provide you with alternative ideas, so be open to what they offer.

 

7. Set Deadlines

When I worked in the Finance and Lending Industry, we had deadlines and goals every month. We had bigger and longer term goals as well, but monthly we had a check in on where we were at for the short term and long term goals. If we were missing our monthly goals, it was an indicator that our big goal was most likely not going to be met. So, set realistic monthly goals for your team. Set them with your team. Get their buy in and make sure everyone is clear on what is expected and by when. 

 

8. Follow up and Reassign

As the leader, visionary and creative of this dream you want to stay in communication with your team. Having a point person to manage your operations and projects will simplify your communication as well as be more efficient for the overall scope of work that you all are working towards accomplishing. There will be times that work falters, deadlines get missed or something falls completely off the wagon. If you have an operations manager they will be on top of your team, leading and guiding them towards the goals. You will want to have an expectation that everything will be followed up on in a timely fashion and that tasks are to be reassigned to different team members as necessary. 

 

Let’s be honest, shit happens and something will inevitably fall through the cracks. If you have the right people on your team, they are going to fix it quick and get the train back on the track. If you don’t have a team, then it’s all on you and things will definitely challenging.

 

This 8 step process can be tedious and time consuming, but once it’s done you will find that your business will run like a well oiled machine. Everyone will know what they are doing and when and you will be able to focus on creating and serving your clients. 

 

In the end, that’s really our goal and mission; to positively impact more people. 

 

You can’t do that if you got lost in the rabbit hole of trying to figure out your systems and processes without a team. 

 

If you are ready to discuss how to effectively set up your systems and processes, send an email to lany@lanysullivan.com.

 

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