As a business coach, I have talked to thousands of business owners across all industries over the last few months of this pandemic. Many of you have risen to the occasion and found innovative ways to serve your customers and your employees, while others, understandably, are struggling to settle into this new normal.
One thing that I have noticed across the board is that many of you are struggling to keep on top of projects and tasks. You miss the ability to walk down the hallway to ask Linda in accounting about an invoice or payable. You miss the ability to have a face-to-face meeting with Leroy from marketing about the new ad campaign. And jumping on a Zoom call isn't always an option (or even a good idea).
So, many businesses are relying heavily on the one thing that I often say is the worst productivity killer of all--email.
Many of you are doing it old school. You are managing teams of five...10...100 people through your inbox. Which looks a little something like this:
Monday: Good Morning Charlotte. You're responsible for X and Y, here are the details.
Wednesday: Hey Charlotte, do you have an update on this?
Thursday: Hey Charlotte, I haven't heard from you on this project. Do you need any help?
Now imagine doing that for 10 employees at a time.
Email is poorly designed to manage and coordinate a large volume of projects and tasks. It is impossible to keep on top of everything, and email communication relies heavily on YOU to keep tabs on everything and everyone. When Covid-19 first entered the picture, it was easy to send everyone home and coordinate through email. But as we now enter month four of restrictions, it's time to get serious about your project management.
Choose Your Favorite
There are many options to choose from when it comes to technology solutions. Some of my favorites include Zoho projects, Basecamp, Slack, Asana, Monday, and Trello. All of these give you the option to create a project and track objectives, priorities, and timelines to give your team members a sense of transparency when it comes to tasks and projects.
My favorite function or feature of these time management programs is hands down the feed. A project feed is a beautiful thing. So instead of trying to keep track of everything, all I have to do is look for things that have been changed or commented upon and I can get a good picture of where we are on key projects within the company.
If someone takes a task and marks it from 50 percent complete to 90 percent complete, as they round up progress on projects at the end of the day, I know that they've made significant progress on that task. If they put a comment on a certain task, I may chime in with my suggestions or notes to help keep the project moving forward.
Each day, I take a look at the feed. It might have anywhere from five or six new items for me to see on a low day or, on a heavy day, it might have 20 to 25 items, but rarely does it take me more than five or 10 minutes to do a quick scan to see what's going on in the areas of the company that I'm involved with.
Once you get to know the ins and outs of your specific project management tool, it makes everything that much easier. Working from home isn't going to go away anytime soon, so maximize your efficiency with a good management tool. Good luck!