Jag Venugopal's Blog

May 18, 2009

Personal Productivity for Project Managers

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 10:13 pm
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I’ve built a personal productivity framework based on three components:

  • Microsoft Outlook
  • OneNote 2007
  • Getting Things Done

Outlook is the standard issue email client for most large companies. So I won’t dwell on it too much at this point. I would advise the interested Project Manager to check out its task management features — most people I know make little or no use of the task management area.

GTD is a wonderful framework to manage your workflow in a very high traffic environment where you receive and process hundreds of email messages. As a methodology, it is more workflow management than time management, though most people use it for time management. Further information about the basic GTD framework can be had from the canonical book, Getting Things Done. The author of GTD also has a monograph on how to use it with Outlook that he sells as an eBook. I recommend that the interested GTD user purchase and utilize this — setting Outlook up is quite easy to use. Of special note is that GTD can be made compatible with PDAs and SmartPhones from either Palm or one of the many Microsoft models.

OneNote is the third leg of this efficiency stool. I have a OneNote book divided into multiple tabs. My tabs are as follows:

  1. Daily standup meetings
  2. Customer/User Notes
  3. Manager Notes
  4. Team Member Notes
  5. Issues
  6. Deployments
  7. Other

There are two features in OneNote that make it virtually indispensible to the project manager: the first feature is automatic saving. In other words, you don’t lose the last half hour’s work if you’ve forgotten to save, and your PC crashes during the middle of a meeting.

The second feature is the ability to create tables very easily. Unlike Word, you don’t need to pick a menu button to create a table. An easy way to create a table with three columns is to type the title for column 1, followed by a tab, followed by the title for column 2, then followed by a tab, finally followed by the last time. An enter begins a new row.

The key to success with this framework is for the project manager to take their laptop with them to every meeting, and be prepared to take notes on the fly.

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