Project management is a professional career choice for many individuals. Formal programs are available to become certified in the field along with a variety of specialty software solutions that support PM activities.  However, most of us are not professionally trained project managers even though we are regularly tasked with coordinating projects within the course of our daily professional (and personal) activities.  Staying sane in the midst of juggling a multitude of “to-do’s” required to coordinate a project can certainly be overwhelming and challenging.

Here at McGhee, one of our most well-known programs involves training on how to utilize Microsoft software to be more productive. Based on some of our basic training methods, we’d like to share three “secret” tips that can benefit anyone tasked with project coordination responsibilities.

Secret #1 – Strategic Next Actions

No matter the size of your project, there will be a series of steps to complete. Where do you even begin? The next physically doable, strategic step without dependencies, which we call Strategic Next Actions (SNA’s).  Focusing on SNA’s will allow you to quickly make progress on your projects. For instance, you can’t just sit down and write an article on bird migration if you know nothing about it. You need to do some research first, but how to even begin research? Your strategic next action is not writing the article or doing the research.  Instead the SNA would be formulating the research questions to ask Google! Focus on SNAs and your SNA’s will turn into completed steps, which will ultimately turn into completed projects!

Secret #2 – Effectively Using Your Calendar

Using the Outlook calendar as a visual representation of the project will help ensure each step gets completed within the designated timeline and will assist in keeping the project on track. Scheduling SNA’s for yourself and the project team within the calendar increases the probability that they will be completed. According to Peter Bregman, author of Four Seconds: All the Time You Need to Replace Counter-Productive Habits with Ones that Really Workscheduling all to-do items on your calendar and using it as a blueprint “dramatically” increases the likelihood that you’ll follow-through.

Secret #3 – Use OneNote’s Easy Integration

OneNote is an ideal tool for project coordination.  Basically, it is a digital version of a binder with tabs and pages behind each tab. We recommend creating a Notebook for your project.  Tabs can be set up to represent the project’s deliverables and pages within each tab can hold all the needed details and data.

OneNote’s integration with Outlook makes it even more valuable as a tool for project planning purposes! It offers the ability to create links directly to your Outlook tasks.  You can also take meeting notes and seamlessly email to your colleagues from OneNote.

Incorporating OneNote into your project planning process is one of our favorite secret weapons to staying sane! Need more help with OneNote? Register today for Optimizing OneNote!

These secrets are just the start to effective project coordination!