managing projects is like being a custodian...sometimes

Remember Carl the custodian in The Breakfast Club? He was the sage who knew everything about everyone.  There were no secrets. Always there to clean up the debris of the day. He went through everyone’s lockers.

A project manager, traffic manager, producer is important. We keep everyone’s work moving along. We have to know where everything is – all the time. Beside being a custodian, it’s also like being Mom. “WHERE ARE MY (insert item you can’t find but Mom miraculously knows exactly where it is)?” If you were organized this wouldn't be an issue.

Well, we’re all adults, right? Most of the time as project managers, we have all the answers. We know where we stand on the progress, budget, alignment with the brief – always on top of everything. Because we're constantly bugging you for updates.

But when you’re not around to provide an update, produce the item that was due an hour ago, or a change has just screamed into agency and must-be-done-now – we have to rifle through your desk, files, whatever.

Personally, I feel that your desk, your file system on the hard drive of your computer is your personal space. However, it becomes mine when I have to know what the status of a project is – NOW.  I hate going through someone else’s stuff. It’s a violation of space and makes me feel weird. But I’ll do it.

So, like a custodian, or a Mom, we find what we need and get to see what a disaster your personal space is. Compelled to clean it up for you, we do not. It is your job. We get what we need and leave a sticky-note on your monitor as to what had transpired.

Therefore, if your agency or marketing department has a centralized system for managing projects, updating information, communicating updates – USE IT. If you don’t have a central system – or if you feel that email is the end-all to organization, I recommend you do a Google search and find tools that bring everyone into the loop. Need help? Let me know.

Email is not a project management tool. It is not a database and requires a lot of sorting, searching and filing. Your IT department will love you for cutting back on the clutter and resources needed for bloated inboxes and terabytes of storage.

A little guidance from your Mom…Centralize your information. Provide updates as you move along. And clean up your files because one day, someone will need something and have to search through your debris.

It will all come down to you – whether you’re at your desk or at Starbuck’s. And by the way, let your colleagues know when you’ve stepped out for a sec. If we know you’ll be right back I won’t have to look in your locker.