Am I a control freak?

For most of last week I was suffering with a nasty cold. I spent most of the time curled up with my duvet and laptop trying to keep on top of work. Probably should have given myself a break but if there’s work to do there’s work to do.

Now, there I’m pretty much better but have been feeling a bit unsettled this weekend, kind of verging on the stressed-out. I think it’s because I feel like I’m not on top of things. There’s loads to do as always but I feel like I’m going to have to do some back-tracking to make sure that we’re where we should be with everything and nothing important has been forgotten.

Does that make me too much of a control freak, feeling like I need to be on top of things all the time? Maybe it means that I’m not trusting our project-tracking systems enough, so maybe I need to look at them and make sure that we have adequate systems in place so that if my brain stops functioning for a while I don’t need to stress out.

All in the planning?

Following on from my post yesterday, ambulance I actually found it very easy to do my allocated 4-hours billable work today. Why are some days easier than others I wonder? Maybe less interruptions or maybe it was all in the planning. The last thing I did yesterday afternoon was plan out what what work I would do today, with an estimate of how long it would take. Turned out to be pretty easy to achieve my goal, even with starting the day with a couple of hours of training (though I did start mightily early).

Is that going to be the secret – planning it all the day before and working at it until the 4 hours are done?

Wasting my time?

I had a bit of a revelation at the weekend. I worked out what our turnover would be if we both did 4 hours of billable work a day at our standard hourly rate. Bit of a shock because it was around three times what we are actually bringing in. That’s not good is it? Though in some ways it’s encouraging because it means that we do have the capacity to bring in much more with just the two of us working on the business.

So, viagra generic what are we doing so wrong that we’re not bringing in that much? In an 8-hour working day it should surely be quite straightforward to work 4 billable hours, patient shouldn’t it? We always seem very busy but are we spending too much time on admin, or is it that we’re just so bad at quoting that we end up working for much less than our hourly rate? That’s what we need to work out.

Based on my findings we’ve started tracking much more closely how much of our day is spent on work that we can class as billable. So far we’re finding that in a normal working day it can be quite difficult to do the required 4 hours – quite a bit of time is spent preparing quotes for prospective clients, which we can’t charge for, and then there’s the necessary admin tasks and keeping on top of emails. Still, I’m not giving up on the 4-hour target, I think we need to work on our efficiency and make sure that we actively aim for that every day. Hopefully this will have a knock-on effect to how quickly we get things finished and our general project management (yep, back to the project management again!).

Let’s see if we can make a breakthrough!

End of a busy week

What a relief to have reached the weekend. It’s been a bit of a frantic week for us – lots of work on but lots of meetings as well. Got a bit fraught at times but have come to the end feeling like we’ve achieved quite a lot. One of the themes of the week was project management. What I would like is for us to develop a standard project management procedure to keep us (and our clients) on top of projects and help us work as efficiently as we can. I’d like to see us completing projects in a shorter time.

One idea we’ve toyed with is that of allocating specific chunks of time to projects and having a much more fixed schedule. This would help us set deadlines. However, sovaldi sale there are a couple of things that we need to keep in mind if we do this – clients can vary in how long they take to give feedback, sildenafil provide content and make decisions, making it tricky to earmark time slots for them; and a lot of our work is ongoing maintenance which is impossible to plan for, so we would have to make sure that we leave time to keep on top of this as well. I think it is doable as long as we build in enough flexibility to the system to allow for the unexpected.

So, I’m returning to the subject of project management in my reading to help me develop a more efficient workflow. Wish me luck!

Project Naggagement

This is my favourite new phrase – apparently that’s what I do, unhealthy not project management but project naggagement. I guess it doesn’t say much for my management technique if I just come across as naggy, but I think it’s a brilliant phrase anyway.

How do you divide your work time?

How does everyone divide their time between working directly on client stuff and business development? It’s a constant battle for me. If we’re really busy then the business gets pushed to one side and all my focus goes on client projects. But it’s important to work on the business too, sickness isn’t it? Need to make sure that our own site is kept up-to-date (even more important now that we’ve launced the redesign!), generic viagra that we’re actively working on attracting new clients, and that we keep on top of the endless admin.

I guess it all comes down to time management in the end. Organising yourself so that you know that you are keeping up with the important stuff. It’s not easy though. And stupidly I can feel guilty if I’m working on our site as if it’s not ‘real work’ and I should be doing something else. That’s silly isn’t it?

Manage Projects

Manage Projects by Adny Bruce and Ken LangdonManage Projects: Meet your deadlines and achieve your targets by Andy Bruce and Ken Langdon is a great little book. It truly is little being just 120 pages long and smaller in size than most books. However, sick it’s crammed full of useful information taking you the process of managing projects. Just what I needed! It’s a very readable book with lots of illustrations, tables, and blocked out sections. Could have done with some greater contrast at times for reading comfort but apart from that it’s a very attractively put together book.

It introduces the subject of project management in easily understood language and provides many useful tools. It’s made me feel quite inspired to try out the process on our projects.

The one criticism that I have is that I would have liked a checklist bringing together all the different parts of the process in one place. I was hoping to be able to put one together myself but going back through the book found it difficult to extract the flow. However, it’s definitely worth persevering with and I plan to do some further reading to help me achieve my goal.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy “Manage Projects” from Amazon >

Project Management for Dummies

Project Management for Dummies by Stanley E. PortnyOK, discount viagra I admit defeat. I started Project Management for Dummies a couple of weeks ago and have so far managed a pathetic 80 pages. When reading becomes this much of a chore it’s time to give up so that’s what I’m doing. I thought ‘for Dummies’ books were supposed to be easy-going. Well I’m certainly not finding that with this one.

Part of the problem is that it’s obviously aimed at someone working in a large organisation but I’m not lacking in imagination so much that I can’t apply the examples to our small-scale setup. For example, I can easily substitute ‘go and see a solicitor’ for ‘consult the legal department’. However, I’m still don’t feel like I’ve been getting much benefit from it. It annoyingly combines a considerable amount of detail with very little in the way of practical examples, so half the time I don’t have a clue what the author is going on about.

Do I sound too harsh or just incredibly whingey? Either way the book will be winging it’s way back to the library tomorrow and I’ll be on to something (hopefully) more enjoyable.

Anyone know any good project management books?? Suggestions gratefully received, especially if they take into account that not everyone works in a large multi-department organisation. Even projects run by a two-man band such as us need some form of management.

Rating: ½☆☆☆☆

Buy “Project Management for Dummies” from Amazon >

Why is nothing ever simple?

Do you ever wonder why things aren’t ever just simple? You need to do something and if you do x, cialis y and z then it’s done, ticked off your list, on to the next thing. OK, sometimes they are. But sometimes (and I’ve just had one of those days) things just seem to keep getting more and more complicated. I found myself juggling with lots of different strands, each relying on a different person or company and nothing quite going as it should. I’m sure it will work out in the end but I suspect I will have a sleepless night tonight worrying about it. Let’s hope things start coming together tomorrow.

Grappling with project management

Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could get a spec for a project and just work through it until it’s done? Nice and simple, sales begin at the beginning and end at the end. Unfortunately, it rarely happens like that does it?

What I’m grappling with at the moment is how to deal with projects when clients change their minds part way through – whether it’s what the website does or the information it contains. Of course minor changes to content aren’t a big deal, that’s the great thing about websites. But the more the project moves away from the original specification the harder (and more long-winded) it can get.

How do other businesses deal with this? I’m sure it’s not just web design that this happens to. How far away from the original spec can a project go before we have to start mentioning ‘additional charges’…? It’s a tough one.

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