Help, I Need More Time! A Discussion on Project Management

Imagine this: you’ve decided to make a courageous and ambitious decision to start a side hustle, to design and sell products via an e-commerce based website. You’ve heard time and time again from others “starting a business is not easy!” and “most startup businesses fail, you need to have a plan and work hard,” which is not wrong. However, you’ve identified the perfect white space opportunity, are knowledgeable about the industry, and are in the prime of your professional life – sure that starting an online business is doable for you.

Inevitably, you’ve run across an overwhelming state of assessing what needs to be done to make the site go live, not focusing yet on what will need to be done afterward. You’re scrambling, wondering when to make time for all of these tasks that need to be done to create a successful website. Starting the business sooner rather than later feels ideal, but you’re unsure how to set everyday deadlines and stick to them with an already busy lifestyle.

What’s missing here is a visual organization process of all tasks to meet successful criteria, achieving goals by a specified time. The best way to start this is to look into and begin implementing a project management process into your life, focusing specifically on day-to-day tasks. Determine what is necessary for beginning your determined journey:

  • Understand your scope. Create your project plan.
    • Know how to access resources. Use templates to make processes easier, recognize who you may be able to talk to, and grow your knowledge or product.
    • Know your risks. What could potentially be an issue when developing your site? What could possibly be an issue when developing your product? Think of everything and have a plan.
  • What are your objectives? 
    • Scope. Continue to reference what your scope is for your plan.
    • Identify your timeline. Start with one, then move onto another.
    • Decide on a budget, and go with it.

Once you’ve identified all of what’s above, it’s also essential to understand working with your time on a personal standpoint. Identify what’s most important to you along with the implementation of a side hustle. You’re struggling with time involving professional endeavors, but what about personal time? The idea here is to work smarter, not harder, so that quality of life, in turn, remains high. Downtime aids in recharging energy. Closing your mind from work at the end of each day is essential in promoting healthy work during the next day, a strategy for routines from Cal Newport in his book: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. How, especially when starting a business (possibly all on your own), can you not work too hard? 

  • Know your abilities. Identify if you’re the best person to be doing a task, and ask for help. For example, f you aren’t knowledgeable in marketing, use resources, if possible, to get assistance with this. Remember, getting feedback from others helps aid in success too.
  • Understand your boundaries. Learn to say no, and make it known to others. You can assess this yourself when “no” is necessary.
  • Set your daily calendar. Schedule each day. This is where the project management system comes in handy.
  • Speak to others. Again, use your resources and know when to reach out. If you have access to someone who may have been a mentor before or could potentially be one in the future, ask for support. Getting assessed or assessing others helps build you up professionally.
  • Implement processes. Document ways to achieve any particular task. Measure it to ensure that it works and adjust them from there. 
  • Ask questions. Change happens, and we need to adapt with it. Ask yourself how you’re doing things currently, and update them according to times, trends, technologies, etc.

Thus far, my project management knowledge has been gained throughout my professional career, using software like Netsuite and Asana. These have been useful tools for managing many deadlines and scheduling with capacity in mind. Personally, I have not used a tool for project management, but now is as good a time as ever when venturing on a journey with deep work. 

I began my individual project management journey with a course from my Master’s program (Interactive Media and Communications at Quinnipiac University) so that I can keep track of my coursework in a timely and intact manner. The tool that I decided to use for this is Trello. I’ve found that Trello is visual-based – you can attach images and assign deadlines, which helps ease use.

Screenshot of Trello Module Setup
Screenshot of Trello “do” “doing” “done”

The method used above is called Kanban*, which is the most efficient day-to-day project management technique.

Kanban – a method for project management that helps in continual delivery, processing tasks in cards like “To Do,” “Doing,” and “Done.” 

In the past, my strategies for assigning myself tasks for personal projects have been to scribble thoughts onto the closest pieces of paper I can find at any given moment. This helped me in an instant, however, it has become an issue when I still can’t find the time to achieve these, but also when I lose the tiny scribble in my mess of random notes. 

Using Trello to layout my assignments with due dates has proven to be a successful transition from my little scribbles. 

  1. Everything can be found in one place! I’m not searching through my computer or desk for a random piece of information that’s critical, but hard to find.
  2. Trello sends reminder emails. If somehow you’ve spaced on a task that should be due soon, Trello recognizes this and sends you a reminder.
  3. Sense of accomplishment. The “Things to do,” “doing,” and “done” cards help me stay organized and visually see all of what I’ve executed, encouraging a feeling of fulfillment.

*Kanban is the method used and described through this blog post. If you’re interested in project management methods that are not specified for everyday tasks, see this article: “The Definitive Guide to Project Management Methodologies” which will explain the other useful management strategies.

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