If you’re anything like me, you will have always perceived organisation to be owning a pen and paper. And if you’re anything like me, you will quite infrequently have been the owner of both pen and paper (at the same time anyway). I have always perceived organisation to be something that is best left to the number crunchers, whilst us creatives can get on with actually coming up with the ideas that will make the real difference. Organisation, like filing, post it notes and to-do lists, conjures up (for me anyway) connotations of a world I would have never considered myself being a part of. It is only recently that I have realised the value in organisation in marketing, that when coupled with creativity, can lead to much more consistent and positive rewards.
Coming up with the quality ideas, intrinsic problem solving and identifying how solutions can make a real world impact, is theoretically the hard part! Actually implementing those ideas (dependant upon the scale) should be the easy bit. But it is a process that needs to be learnt and refined.
And it is certainly something that you have to learn – organisation will come naturally to some people, but for the rest of us, the processes with regards to ensuring that we are working optimally and getting things done, has to be honed. Which leads me onto a fantastic book I am reading at the moment called, ‘Making Ideas Happen’ by Scott Belsky.
Making Ideas Happen
This book has done the rounds a few times in the office here at Inbound. I know this because not since school have I seen so many underlined and highlighted passages in a book. Being a big fan of originality though, many of the excerpts I have chosen to quote (and there are quite a few) are from areas of the book that weren’t covered in ink (of which there were few).
“While you may enjoy generating brilliant ideas and imagining new possibilities, you must approach every occasion of creativity with a dose of scepticism and a bias towards action”
This resonated with me in so many ways. It is most certainly something I now actively do, but for the last decade of my professional life, I hadn’t ever considered as being time wasting. I guess I always thought that debate and conversation relating to a particular topic is a great way of learning and expanding your horizons. However more and more these days, as my time becomes more valuable and my to-do list grows, I have realised how easy it can be to waste an hour simply debating or questioning something.
Now don’t get me wrong, creative debate is the fuel behind some of the greatest changes in human history. But if I think back over the years about the times I have spent discussing, instead of doing, well I should imagine that there has been quite a lot of time wasted.
Have an End Goal
The key to successful creative discussion is to have an end goal in sight. So if the debate is based around improving my clients conversion rate, there should be time scheduled for that discussion and at the end of that time, there should be one plan (possibly made up of a number of components) of action with regards to what is going to be actioned. The ‘Action Method’ as it is coined, means ensuring that during your working day, actions are agreed upon and actions are completed.
“Brace yourself; we’re about to get our hands dirty. The term “project management” makes most creative people cringe.”
I am from a sales background. I love debate and open discussion. Project management has never really intrigued me as there just isn’t as much of a thrill associated with the role. Movie classics ‘Boiler Room’ and ‘Glen Gary, Glen Ross’ weren’t about project managers now were they…
But the truth is, there is so much that can be learnt from an organisational perspective that can help everyone, not just in the business world. Being organised in life leads to greater productivity and greater productivity leads to getting things done!
Action Steps, References & Backburner Items
When it comes to staying organised with a project or set of projects, it is integral that for each project (whether stored digitally or otherwise) the following information is recorded;
“Action Steps” – These are your actions! These are what you should aim to extract from every working scenario. If something isn’t immediately able to go on your to-do list or be scheduled as an action then it will filter down into one of these two other areas…
“References” – These are the notes of important things to know, things that build your client profile or are themes to a particular project, but don’t actually have an action to come from them. It is important that these are referenced in an organised fashion and can easily be referred to at a later date.
One method of taking references is by detailing hand written notes, chronologically and then labelling those notes with dates. That way if you need to see any meeting notes from a particular date or meeting, they can easily be referred to.
“Backburner Items” – The non-actioning creatives’ specialty! Backburner items are ideas and actions for the future but require a change of scenario to take place. A classic example of this would be the future migration of an e-commerce client from that lovely, restrictive, bespoke CMS they are using to Magento, or one of these open source platforms.
So it’s early days, I’m almost a thousand words into this and you’d have to figure that a project manager could have got the same message in half the content. But I have learnt that like everything in life, organisation is a skill to learn. There is no wrong or right way to do it but the ultimate goal will be the optimisation of your working day and much less stress!