How do you organize your projects? Juggle multiple projects? Sort out your thoughts, designs, plans, and to-do lists?
I have two reasons for asking this – I am curious in hearing about your methods, and I am also looking for new ideas.
For me, it’s my personal projects that need the most work. I have been juggling an ever-increasing number of projects, with some slowly moving forward at different states of completion, and many others stuck at the starting point.
Over the past 2 years especially, my time has become very fragmented, forcing me to break projects into smaller segments.
What I am hoping is that better preparation, planning, and organizational methods will help me get more done.
The first thing I have been trying is to organize my projects a little differently, with more attention given to creating discrete steps and instructions.
For instance, instead of “build 5 drawers” or even “build 5 drawers 24″ width and 18” deep, I would now write out my plans as if they were for someone else:
Drawer fronts & backs require i) Cross-cut 1/2″ plywood to 24″, ii) rip to 5″ strips, iii) sand both faces and ease corners, iv) cut 1/4″ groove 1/2″ above bottom edge for drawer bottom, v) notch back panel for drawer slides.
Ripping plywood to 24″ and then into 24″ x 5″ strips? That’s a lot easier to fit into a smaller block of time than “build 5 drawers.”
The way I am used to working, I would break up all of the steps on the fly, while I’m in the workshop. But with smaller chunks of time, this has not been working well. So, my solution is to do more planning ahead of time, with just a little more time taken to put it to physical or digital paper.
Basically, I’m working on a new strategy where I create project recipes and plans for myself. This seems like an obvious and simple way to boost productivity, but it’s not how I am accustomed to working.
This won’t work for everything, as some projects require improvisation by design or their nature, but I’ll be happy as long as there’s a net benefit.
As for how to do this, I have been working with a new-to-me database-type project planning app that might help. And if not, the pen and paper route is tried and true, as long as I use a notebook instead of the backs of envelopes. Consistency is always key to forming good habits.