“Do you sleep?”
“How do you get it all done?”
“Do you have free time?”
“Do you ever relax?”
I am asked these questions quite a lot. I am the Editor of the Bodybinds blog, Co-President of the Pole Dancing Bloggers Association, a freelance writer for multiple websites, the Editor of my own website, an Entrepreneur with two upcoming client video shoots & one business consult this month. I work a full time job, like literally…a 9 to 5 as a Project Manager. I host Craft + Cupcake parties, and C.R.E.A.T.E. art retreats. Occasionally I stage manage Off Broadway plays….and the list goes on. And really, its an oversimplification because for each “title” or “role” there are MULTIPLE projects that I manage, lead,… yadda yadda.
And yet, I still make time to travel, date, have epic WEEKENDS that include fancy dinners, clubbing till 3am, bbq where 10 women dance Nia and Zumba all night, and 5 mojitos each with one of my close friends after visiting a museum and my favorite restaurant in Harlem. Meaning…I do a lot of shit for my corporate career and creative career and I still live my life. It’s not all perfectly balanced. One client video is behind schedule. My bedroom is a mess. I still haven’t unpacked from my trip to Chicago or Vegas. Such is life.
Separately from all of this, I have a private Wild Magical Woman – Business Intensive group. Its to function as a support group for a select number of women where I pretty much share all my resources and knowledge on business, branding, blogging and whatever else. This question was asked a few weeks back.
WMW Member: I am really curious about how others schedule their time. At any given time I can be working at a dance studio, running my fashion line, making custom burlesque wear, creating graphics for a client, working for my family’s company, writing for my blog and other websites, etc, etc.
Finding a way to schedule my time so that I can work effectively and not feel guilty about taking a break has been near impossible. Please wise women, share your time management ways with me cause I’m about to curl up in a ball under my desk and cry!
WHAT A GREAT QUESTION. With that being said, today I want to share some of my methods, tips, links, apps and even a wish list for PROJECT MANAGEMENT. This could easily be titled, “Sheena Method for Keeping Her Shit Together and Her Sanity in Tact.”
Apps for Project Management
First, lets talk apps and mobile friendly websites that I use. (Switching between my iPhone and Droid phones pose no issue for these. However, when I’m trying a Windows phone…eh! It can be difficult. Although…if companies ensure their websites are mobile friendly…not having a windows store app for my most used sites is okay.)
I have been using 2Do since 2011. After a lot of research and downloading way too many FREE apps that did not have everything I needed, I bit the bullet and purchased the mac friendly version of the app, which also allowed me to sync it to my tablets and smartphones.
I think when I bought the app, it was at a lower price. However...I know the importance of keeping my shit together in my business and personal life and sometimes it means investing in the best tools that work for my personality and workflow. 2DO is “Sheena-Friendly.” Rather than saying “User-Friendly,” I’m saying “Sheena-Friendly” because I know myself. I know how I visualize things. I know how I organize things. I know the way that I make lists and the methodology behind it. I know I remember themes more than numbers. I know some things are a checklist and others are just a simple task. Yadda yadda. With that being said, after some research, I knew 2DO was/is “Sheena-Friendly.” To this day, its the main app I use. The draw back is that its not collaborative and as my focus is not only SheenaLaShay.com, I need better tools for project management WITH others! They have some cool things they are working on, such as finding a way to get their product to work with IFTTT. So maybe group collaboration is right around the corner?
I was introduced to this website by Valentina of Pole Dance Italy, who also happens to be the Co-President of the Pole Dancing Blogger’s Association. We both lead the PDBloggers. But she’s in Italy and I’m in New York. Sometimes we both are copied on emails and sometimes not. When she’s awake, I might be sleep. Shit gets real and we have a lot of stuff to do and stay on top of. Thus Asana, a great option for project management that we can use collaboratively with our entire team.
Honestly, even though its been a year since she’s introduced me to it, I’m still getting used to it. I mean, it will definitely keep you organized. It just doesn’t have as many options as 2Do. HOWEVER, because V is in Italy, Lori is in Cali and the rest of our board and executive committee are each in different states and countries, we need a solution like this.
I’ve been using Basecamp since about 2008…in the corporate world. Now what makes Basecamp stand apart from 2Do and Asana is that it is great for EXTERNAL and INTERNAL teams. One of the main projects I used it for was a multi million dollar office move for a trading company I worked with years ago. We had a steering committee that we called the “Build Out Team” and we worked with NUMEROUS companies from a marketing company, to the construction company to the designers and more. Basecamp was great because everyone could be a member of Basecamp but I could limit access depending on who each person was. It was a one stop website and app for our calendars, task, conversations, documents and more and with one click, I could say who could view/change/delete or whatever. So it was collaborative and I could control the collaborations! I last used Basecamp in 2014 for a corporate company project that involved…multiple teams both externally and internally. It can get up there in cost, thus why I use it when corporations pay for me to use it.
Methods of Organization for Project Management
4. Google Calendar
One of the ways I keep my life together is through google products. From Gmail to Google Drive to Google+, I live in a world of Google. GOD BLESS GOOGLE. Therefore, of course I use Google Calendar. But maybe I use google calendar like a power user.
I keep one main google calendar account and then make a color coded google calendar for each “project” or company I’m responsible for. Bodybinds. PDBloggers. SheenaLaShay. OwningPink. Crafts&Cupcakes. C.R.E.A.T.E. VZBuzz. Client A. Client B. Client C. You get the point.
Next, I create entries within the right color coded section for ALL deadlines. Deadlines being when I know shit needs to be done and turned in. There are no metaphors or guess work regarding this. These are hard stops. I need to visually see when shit is due in order to know if I can take on more work and when. It helps me to know what’s coming up or to know when I really am free for date night.
Next, not only do I set reminders within the entry but I create separate entries for “warning dates”. Overkill, maybe. But 90% of the time my shit is together so you tell me. If an article is due on May 31st. I put a separate reminder entry a week before or two days before. Again, I know how MY brain works and why the difference makes a difference to me. Do you, BOO!
I mean, I also put my personal schedule on Google calendar. I keep it synced with my computer, smartphones and more. Yadda. Yadda. But the MAIN reason I use google calendar for project management is to color code the projects and put REAL DUE DATES in.
My advice..check out posts like “18 Google Calendar Tips and Tools for Power Users.” to ensure you’re getting the most out of google calendar. I utilize a lot of the methods listed.
5. POST IT
This is an old school method and perhaps there is an app for this. Oh actually, what I do with this I do on the 2Do app as well. HOWEVER…hmmm, maybe what you’re gonna learn about me is that I need REPETITION for things to stick and I need to type or write things more than once. I am a note taker, a scribe, a writer. Its what I do. SO, it MAY BE overkill considering I do this on 2DO and could do it on Google Calendar but so what. I literally have a wall of post it notes. See below. Look at the walls. See those little white papers. Those are my handmade “post its.”
So, at the top of my wall, each project gets a column. Bodybinds. PDBloggers. SheenaLaShay. OwningPink. Crafts&Cupcakes. C.R.E.A.T.E. VZBuzz. Client A. Client B. Client C. You get the point.
Then every single task associated with that particular project is written down and posted to my wall. So for Crafts & Cupcakes, one paper may say, “Pick a theme for October” and the next paper will say, “Write the announcement blog post for Oct C&C” and the next will say, “Create the facebook image for Oct C&C” and the next will say “Create the instagram image for Oct C&C” and the next will say, “Send mailchimp email to C&C group.” and the next will say, “Create eventbrite page for Oct C&C.” I break it down into PIECES. Manageable, bit size pieces. And I literally rip them off the wall and put them in a large notebook once I’m done. (I think….part of this comes from the Scrum training I did a few years ago. Who knows?)
More examples, under #PDBloggers there is a post it for…write Oct blog hop, post Oct photo blog hop, edit finance guest post, write outline for ebook, etc, etc. And if one task seems way too big, I break it down even further. So maybe for the Oct blog hop, instead I have post its that say….find a quote for Oct blog hop, create the image for Oct blog hop, write inspirational prompts for the blog hop post. GET IT!?
Productivity Tips for Project Management
6. FIND THE MULTI PROJECT OVERLAP
When possible, I look for ways my projects can overlap. Are there technology related actions I’m doing for PDBloggers that could also work as blog material for VZWBuzz? That recipe I tried out for personal reasons, can I make it sexy and yummy to qualify for a Bodybinds post on Food & Nutrition. Where is the overlap?
7. GET REAL WITH YOURSELF
I look at what is required for each task that I do. My friend mentioned she works at a dance studio. What is she actually doing at the dance studio? Is she manning the front desk? If so, when its calm, is it possible to spend 5 minutes brainstorming a new blog post? Or is she actually teaching a dance class? You know you have to wait to see the doctor. They never see you on time. Bring your tablet…which can have PhotoShop on it and edit some photos. Or use that time to research or answer client emails. Whether its multitasking or using the downtime in the midst of one thing to do another, GET IT DONE!
8. PICK & CHOOSE
If I don’t have any looming deadlines…I pick and choose what I want to work on based on how I feel. Client work and deadlines are not optional, unless I’m in bed with the flu. They must be done! See below regarding the frog. But when nothing is due right then and there, I go back to my 2Do app on my phone or Asana and I pick and choose. Like if I have to write articles for 2 sites, come up with a marketing strategy for a pole studio, and make a costume and none are due RIGHT NOW….then I pick and choose what I feel. Fuck the costume, right now all I want to do is write a blog post about pretty fashion. When deadlines are not looming, doing things based on feeling have a LOT of merit with me and inspires other things.
Sheena’s Blog Posts on Project Management
9. Eat the Frog
Sometimes you gotta eat the frog, meaning do the hardest thing first to get it out of the way. Your feelings have no place in the “frog” moments. No amount of visualizing will make the frogs taste like chicken. You just gotta eat the damn frog. Read that blog post HERE.
10. Manage Your Stress
Whether its delegating, breathing or walking away, you gotta manage your stress when you get overwhelmed. Read that blog post HERE.
11. Remember That You Do Have Time
When people tell me that they don’t have time, I do not believe them. Read that blog post HERE.
Apps for your SOUL during Project Management
I don’t currently own any of these apps but they are on my list to download. I usually just pick up a Pema Chodron book but if you want an app to help manage your soul, spirit and sanity as you manage everything else, consider these.
App Website | I came across this website during one of those “fall down the rabbit’s hole” google searches a few months back and it looks awesome. It definitely seems like something I need. It has a more wholistic approach to managing your life.
13. Happy Tapper
App Website | Happy Tapper has a collection of three apps for your soul. A gratitude journal, vision board and little buddha. They recently did an overhaul on their gratitude journal and its another I’ll need to add to my collection.
Blogs I Read for Help with Project Management
14. Productive Flourishing
Website HERE | I’ve been reading him for years. I even had the chance to meet him in real life at #WDS2013 and I love the action planners he offers for free on his website. He inspired me to create my own planner templates. I have a whole library of custom Sheena LaShay stage management templates, project management templates, blogger templates and daily life templates because of him. His blog posts however are helpful and educational, therefore, I keep reading.
16. Harvard Business Review
Website HERE | Back in 2005, I worked as a Training Manager for a hotel brand and part of our training program included unlimited access to some amazing online Harvard Business courses such as “Managing Upwards” and “Managing Your Career.” I learned SOOOOO much from those programs and since 2005, I have been reading their website and books and articles and more. While they have a plethora of stuff, there is a project management tab that is too juicy. Today I also came across, “Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They are 100% Qualified” here. Also, my all time favorite article is Nice Girls Don’t Ask. (you have to pay to read the full article now but you can get a glimpse of it.)
Sanity Tips for Project Management
17. Take Breaks
Taking breaks ARE OKAY! Sometimes I do nothing and watch an episode of Real Housewives of Orange County. YUP! Or morseso I watch Covert Affairs or House of Cards. (Usually doing other things help to inspire my work anyway.)
18. Break Everything Down as if you were writing “Life for Dummies 101”
When I get overwhelmed, I break everything down into bit size, idiot proof pieces. Sometimes my “to do” is “turn on computer”, “Open adobe photoshop”, “upload image.” 3 separate little task that keep me breathing. Versus just writing, “Edit Client Photos.” Sometimes my list starts with, “get out of bed.” SO WHAT!
19. Use Everything and Every Moment
I hinted at this in “You Do Have Time” but in case you didn’t click over, know that I literally use every moment I can. So when I’m on the train, I’m reading a book on marketing or drafting a blog post. OR I just listen to music. Or when I’m waiting for the train or at a store shopping for groceries, I’m noting business practices, marketing techniques and more. When I need blog ideas, I steer convos with my friends around topics I’m thinking of writing on. (I’m quit evil, aren’t I? I mean, I stay authentic but I’m strategic.) USE everything to your advantage.
20. Remember to Get Better
So…one thing indirectly related….you gotta do stuff that’s constantly helping your personal development as it relates to strategic thinking. For instance, let’s say you work out PHYSICALLY on flexibility so that you can eventually can do splits…if you’re a dancer. Well, you gotta exercise your brain power…memory, prioritizing, management, strategy and such…so that its easy for you to process lots of info or switch between projects and stuff. It ends up saving you time…by becoming more high functioning…..if this makes sense. <– This is one of my golden secrets. Always be a student. Always be a sponge. Always learn new techniques and technology and philosophy. Always be getting better. And eventually work on proper grammar too! Because obvious, I don’t always do that.
21. Acknowledge that You’re a Human
Sometimes I do miss deadlines. And I have to ask for extensions. Sometimes I am late. Sometimes I only get 4 hours of sleep and I’m fucking dead tired. Sometimes the post isn’t 100% and instead is 80% because I missed some spelling errors. So sometimes I fuck up and my time isn’t managed properly and I just gotta re-adjust, take a moment…and get real good at recovery, problem solving and fixing my mishaps.
Programs I Wish I Had for Project Management
Its either not a business priority or not in the budget but these are programs or software I wish I had. If you can afford it, get it. Or buy me a membership. Cheese!
22. Function Point
Website | Can I has this, please?
Website | Cheesy youtube channel. Awesome website.
There you go! I’ve shared my personal techniques, my favorite apps, my wish list and more. Hopefully one nugget or all the nuggets helped you figure some stuff out when it comes to managing your life, work or projects. Do you have any questions? Let me know!
What makes my life easier is that there are websites, apps, phones, computer programs and more that help me to move through out my life. I can’t rely on my post it method or a journal method considering my life is in motion, my teams are spread across the world and there is a lot of work to be done. Using technology to aid in my OCD methods, I’m able to be a high functioning person who works on lots of things and still make time for dinner with friends or cuddle with my two cats. (Did you know I have two kittens? Yup. I’m a pet parent too.)
Also remember when I said “look for the overlap.” Well, this post started as a facebook chat in a private business group. I used the question posed and the responses to turn it into a blog post. Half this content was already written. And because a lot of what I do and how I do it connects with technology or my smartphone or a laptop or tablet, I realize its a VZWBuzz post and its also a post that’s helpful for Project Managers. See what I did there. I’m a slick one, aren’t I? How can you be slick today and get shit done?
HELPFUL POST IF YOU HAVEN’T GOTTEN ENOUGH OF MY YET
*Disclaimer – I am currently downloading apps via Google Play on my Verizon HTC One Remix. I received it from Verizon because I am a #VZWBuzz Lifestyle Blogger. The thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own because I don’t even have TIME to write somebody else’s script. Surprisingly, there are also no affiliate links in this post. I mean, I always tell you when there are but there are not. Have it those clicks. Its all just for your benefit.