If you are familiar with my Clifton Strengths Finder and Myers-Briggs assessment results, then you'll understand why my sister decided to ask me a few questions about project management and efficiency. My first listed Clifton's Strength is Achiever.

Today was indeed a great day. Any day that I get to have a long phone call with my sister is a great day. My sister and brother-in-law run their own business (if you live in Florida and have any need for pool enclosures or lanais, I know who to send you to). She has had some shift in how she is organizing a few things in her business and specifically in the day-to-day operations of the front office.

If you are familiar with my Clifton Strengths Finder and Myers-Briggs assessment results, then you'll understand why she decided to ask me a few questions about project management and efficiency. My first listed Clifton's Strength is Achiever. I love to cross a to-do off the list ... and not just a few ... a lot! I am also listed as Judging on the Myers-Briggs, which means I like to work efficiently and effectively with a plan in place.  

As I shared how I project manage myself and help others manage tasks on our team, I thought this might be valuable for others to know. As I told my sister, it is different for everyone, and people should do what works best for them, but here are my tips and tricks.

  1. Each week (before the week even begins), I write down all the things that I need to accomplish. I love and use technology, but my running to-do list is always written on paper. No matter your job, you can categorize the big buckets of work you typically do. I list all my clients and figure out the next steps to move each client forward in their projects. If you are in church communications, your big buckets might be weekend service items, ministry event promotions, planning for missions and ongoing vision communications, etc. I carry this list with me at work all the time. Sometimes I add things to my current week's list or to the list for the following week. This list helps me know if I have the capacity to say "yes" to other things in my week. If the list is a mile long, it's probably best I say "no."
  2. Create a parking lot somewhere of things you'd love to accomplish long term. If a week is lighter, drive (did you like my pun?) into your parking lot and choose something to put some gas (there's another) into. I utilize technology for this one—a quick document saved that can be accessed whenever I have some capacity to make things happen. 
  3. Help your team get on the same page by having a weekly team meeting. (Or maybe biweekly if that works better in your environment.) This way everyone feels connected. There is nothing worse than having people feel like they are working in silos. Fishhook has a weekly team lunch meeting. It's great for our culture and for our work! 
  4. Use an online project management tool such as Basecamp or Teamwork. This is an easy way to keep all your projects under the same roof and decreases side conversations about what's going on or what comes next. We have a project in Basecamp for each client project. If you are a church communicator, you could set up projects for your communications team, or you could use it for your entire church and its ministries. Maybe communications has a project, but so do youth ministry and children's ministry. 
  5. Start having weekly sync sessions with the people who have specific tasks that relate to the work you are doing together. Schedule an hour (or less) and quickly march down big buckets that I mentioned earlier. Take less than five minutes to talk about each thing that is happening. This also helps cut down on the side conversations that could happen through the week. At Fishhook, I meet with the web team to talk about each of our website projects. I know where we are in the process and everyone gets to identify the priorities to move each client forward. In the church communications world, this could be a 10-minute weekly chat with each ministry to hear what's coming up and find ways that you can support staff and leadership of that ministry.
  6. My last piece of advice is to stop letting email dictate your day. I could spend all day addressing what is popping up in my inbox. Now I only look at my email two to three times during my day. I try to stay focused on the meetings and tasks I have in front of me. When I check email, I take care of the messages that need a quick one-minute answer. If it is something I have to put thought and effort into, I table it for later. It might actually jump to my to-do list as something to accomplish during the week.

I hope these ideas are helpful. Again, if it doesn't work for you, then try something new.

If you don't know your strengths and personality preferences, I encourage you to watch the Fishhook webinar Heroes and Heroines: Maximize Your Team Types, which is focused on the Myers-Briggs personality types. There is greatness to a team when all teammates work together with their unique gifts. (You can watch the webinar on demand by clicking the link above.)