Tips for Keeping Your Projects Organized

Like a lot of us, I often work on multiple projects simultaneously, collaborating with different people at different stages of each project. I find that keeping my projects organized is the best way to avoid feeling overwhelmed. It also helps ensure my tasks are completed on time and with (hopefully) less stress. Here are some things I do to keep my projects, and myself, organized. 

Make Lists (and Check Them More Than Twice) 

I keep a running list of all my current projects and tasks and refer to it often. Putting it in order and making notes like deadlines or milestones that need to be met lets me see the overall picture of my workload, which also makes it easy to prioritize (and adjust priorities when needed).  

For each project, it’s also helpful to keep a list of to dos or deliverables. You can track these items in something simple, like a spreadsheet, to keep the project organized. With a spreadsheet, you can add columns to track specific details, like due date, person assigned, project status, notes, etc. There are also helpful apps out there, like Trello, that can let you add due dates and set reminders or assign tasks to other people in addition to helping you make and organize lists. 

Maintain Version Control 

When working on a project with other people, whether it is a single partner or a larger group, it’s super important to maintain version control if there’s a chance you will be working on the same documents. Knowing who is working on which document when is important, but so is keeping track of the latest version. Depending on your file storage solution, you may have built-in version control or only one “live” file that everyone works in (like with Google Drive). However, often this is not the case, and it can be easy to end up with multiple versions of the same file. It’s a good idea to implement a naming system to keep track of which document is most recent or a tracking system so you know who is working on the document and can avoid any overlap of work or multiple conflicting files. Or both! 

Set a Schedule (and Keep to It) 

If your project has a deadline you need to work toward, it can help to set milestones or timelines for each deliverable. Even a small project should have an end goal in mind, but this can be particularly important with larger projects that have multiple deliverables and/or multiple people working to produce them. Once your timelines are set, do your best to stick to them whenever possible. But… 

Be Flexible 

It’s important to be flexible when it’s needed. If you have multiple projects on the go, you may have to adjust your timelines to match your workload. Things also change – dates move, deliverables evolve, items get added, delays happen. Being able to be flexible with project scheduling and timelines to address these changes, while still making sure you can meet your deadlines, is a useful skill to have. And having a tracking system to record any changes will help you stay organized too. 

Keep the Communication Flowing 

At the end of the day, one of the most important things is to communicate! Communication regarding project changes, shifting timelines, or workload is crucial in ensuring your projects are delivered when they need to be. And if you need help, it’s important to ask ahead of time. Sometimes deadlines can be moved or additional help can be provided, but it’s easier to make that happen if the project is due in a week or two (instead of tomorrow!). Being organized with your projects will help you foresee any potential issues so that they can be addressed as soon as possible. Early and frequent communication is key. 

Try to implement some of these things in your own work to help keep you and your projects organized! 

About the Author

Breanne MacDonald

Technical Editor<br><br>Fueled by her meticulous nature, an eye for detail, and a love of books, Breanne has been an editor for over 10 years. She has been a technical editor with ASCENT since 2019, and outside the office she is an avid volunteer with the Editors’ Association of Canada. Breanne holds a Bachelor of Arts from Wilfrid Laurier University and a certificate in publishing from Ryerson University.

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