How I Keep Track Of It All (Pst. There's a Free Downloadable Template)
I run two businesses and am in the early stages of starting a non-profit.
That’s a lot. And it often feels overwhelming. To be completely honest, I’m utterly exhausted as I’m writing this. Though that may have to do with the Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh testimonials which, at the time of writing, happened yesterday.
But no mater the external or internal factors that cause my mind to wander or my body to want to burrito from the world in a very real way, I need to keep on top of a number of different business priorities and projects. For the first three months, I tried a lot of different external tools, and I liked a lot of them. The only problem was, most of the tools I found online were hyper-focused on one specific element of running a business (ie. sales or social media management) and weren’t able to give me a complete picture of the state of my business.
I needed something that, at a glance, I could see where my priorities needed to be and what was actually in motion at what time. I also wanted to be able to know what was coming up so that I could plan out different campaigns and initiatives without uncomfortable overlaps. I wanted to be able to quickly see what tasks needed execution, and what was holding up various projects. On top of that, I sometimes sit in-front of my laptop and blank out on what it is I could be doing, so I wanted something that could easily guide me into being productive and meaningful with my time.
Yeah, I think that app would cost me an arm and a leg to acquire. So I decided to make it on my own.
All it took was spending a little time whipping up the perfect Google spreadsheet. Now, I always know exactly what’s happening with my business and when, as well as where I’m falling behind and where delays are holding projects up. Here’s how it works.
The first section of the doc is my timeline for an entire calendar year, broken up visually by each quarter. I then visually identify what projects are active, in the planning stage, inactive, or on-hold for each month using the colours green, red, orange, and blue respectively. To get a better sense of this, here’s what the In A Sequoia timeline looks like for 2018’s fourth quarter.
You’ll also see I pop in important dates for each project, such as when newsletters are being sent out, or key partners for projects - like a super exciting project I’m hoping to work with Square on! Don’t tell anyone yet - it’s a surprise.
On the same document there’s also a timeline for Sequoia Content Studio so I know how each business is going to effect the activities of the other. It also contains confidential information on all of my clients, which is why I can’t show you that example.
This is the key section of my document, and the one I’m in all. the. time. It’s the second tab of my Google sheet. Here’s how it looks.
The first column matches the specific projects for the business (and you’ll note it matches the timeline before it!). The second column represents the status of the project - again, hyper visual so I know quickly where I’m at. Green is for projects that are on-track, yellow reps projects with delays or concerns, red is where a project is in danger (right now, that would be my Sequoia Content Studio finances - and I’ve been major procrastinating that red square!!), and blue is, again, for projects on-hold.
Next to that, I add key notes for the project, such as the progress towards the project goals or key things I need to do to change the project status. Finally, the meat of it all, the action items for each project. Point form things I need to take action on, or the things I’m waiting on the action of others for. For example, if I’m waiting for feedback on a client project, I list who I’m waiting to hear back from and why. Or if I need to follow up with someone, who I need to follow up with. If there’s a tight timeline, I’ll add a date.
You’ll also see sharing this very blog post is on my action list! And once I hit schedule, that item will be taken off the list! Nothing feels better than ‘crossing’ off the action items.
So I’m the type of person who is always ideating new things to do or new campaigns to run. I’m often up at night unable to sleep because new ideas keep playing out in my head, or I’ll be at an amazing workshop and get inspired to do something different. In moments like these, I can often be like the distracted dog who just spotted a…
This wasn’t so bad when my businesses were my side-hustles. Now they’re my full-time thing and I can devote ALL THE BRAIN TIME to working on new ideas. Which is in no way productive or financially smart.
So to help keep myself on track while not wasting a good idea, I created a ‘Future Projects’ section where I can write out all of the crazy new ideas I get in one space and move on. At a later date, if things feel right and I have the time, money, and resources to meaningfully execute them, then I can move them to my calendar and project status doc. Until then, they sit in the back of my brain ready to be fired off into existence at the right time.
Each column is for a different major project, and each cell gets it’s own unique idea so, if I ever need, I can flesh them out further or even add the names of potential collaborators to connect with when the timing is right.
Get your projects on track
This one Google spreadsheet has been a real game-changer for my businesses. My days are far more productive and my projects are in far better places than they were even a month ago. And I think it could be of value for all of you as well!
So I created a free template you can download and use for your own business management. To download either an Excel document or a Google spreadsheet, just pop-in your email below.
Bam! Now you can easily stay on top of all your critical tasks and to-dos in one easy place and never feel lost or uncertain of what’s going on in your business again.
Are you using the Project Status doc? Let me know what you think of it!