Monday, March 12, 2012

Product Recommendations for Managing Projects

Starting a project is exciting. It can also create anxiety. How will you keep track of all the tasks that are part of the project? How will you store all the paper generated by the project? How will you schedule your time to see that the project is completed on time?

In this post, we're going to look at storing the paper generated by a project. We'll look at products for small and large projects, and also the portability factor.

The first aspect to determine is the estimated size of the project. Will you be writing an article for a magazine? Then you probably won't have too many papers to collect. Will you be coordinating a contest for your writer's group? You will have a fair amount of paper. Are you starting a novel? If so, you will have a lot of papers by the end of the project.

Knowing the size of the project will help you determine the size of your storage. For a novel, you will want something large, like a portable file box.
This will hold all your hanging file folders , one for each aspect of your novel—research, contests, submissions, hard copies of chapters, marketing efforts, etc. They are large, sturdy and portable. And once the book is published, the box can be stored away securely, and remain dust-free.

Another way to store a large project is a desktop file. These also hold hanging file folders, but are open on the top. They provide easy access to the files, which remain visible at all times. They are portable, but not as easy to tote around. And while they hold a lot, they are not good for permanent storage. Therefore, these would be good for projects in process, then could be emptied and reused once you begin a new project.

If you have a filing cabinet for storage, a hanging accordion file would work well. This would also work well if you don't like your desk cluttered with files. You can place it in a drawer and it's out of sight. It can also be moved to another file cabinet for deep storage at a later date. This product would not work well for portability.

For medium-sized projects, a traditional accordion file works well. These come in a variety of sizes, with anywhere from five to thirty-one individual pockets. Some come pre-labeled. Others have blank tabs for creating your own subjects. You can find them with or without a cover flap. A cover will prevent the contents from spilling out, but an open file will provide east accessibility.

Finally, there are a number of different products for small projects. My favorite of these is the Smead Project Folder. I have one of these for every client. I custom label the tabs—web site, contests, blog tours, etc. I can write account information in the Notes section on each pocket (User Names and Passwords). I record contact information on the inside cover, and other information such as mileage.
This can easily be used for a small project like a blog tour for a book. You can use a pocket for each blog, or a pocket for different aspects of the tour, such as a master list, guidelines, contact information, contest winners, mailing receipts, etc.
Other options for small projects are pockets. These can be plastic or paper (cardboard). They come all one color in a set, or different colors. A variety of colors is best for identifying contents at a glance. Some are pre-punched with three holes for use in a binder. Others are simple pockets. The pockets can be clipped together or placed in a larger expanding pocket.

This is just a sampling of all the possibilities. There are many colors and varieties. But this gives you an idea of how to manage the paperwork associated with a project. You will know what best suits your needs. And you needs will change between projects, so you may find one of these good for one project, but another better for a second project.

What systems have you used to contain your paperwork for a project?

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