5 questions about project management
with Jeff Questad
Before we leave the office for the weekend, we stop for a quick coffee talk with our project management colleagues to chat about their best practices. Well, not literally, but that's how we designed our interview series "5 questions about project management". To be fast, intense and refreshing like a good cup of coffee.
Today, we’ll talk with Jeff Questad. He is a Senior Public Relationship Manager at Backbeat Media with over a decade of practical experience in the field of project management.
1. What is your favorite project management method?
In my job, I have very few long term projects, but I have dozens to hundreds of daily tasks. I don’t use project management software, per se. I use a combination of digital and analog tools for task management. I use a digital application to capture tasks, but I write them by hand into a notebook a few at a time and attack them there. My digital task inbox is Things. I use BusyCal and a simple spiral notebook for the rest of my work management.
Like many people, I feel like my job is unique, and it is difficult for an app to completely capture my process. So my processes tend to be a mix of things I have borrowed and put into my own unique process.
2. Do you use project management software for bigger projects? If so, which one?
Things is more a to-do manager, but it does allow me to set up tasks. I don’t use it often because it is unusual for me to have such complex projects.
I have been interested in project management software when I have had to work with others. Because our company has a small team of independent people managing themselves, when we have shared projects, there is sometimes a need to be able to connect a task to others and use that app to make sure we are progressing. An example might be some database modifications my office and I agreed on but I am depending others to complete (with my input). In order to advance this work, I would like those others to be connected to a project management tool with me.
Thus, I would choose (if I could get my team into one) a free or low cost project management tool and one that is simple and perhaps has less power and fewer features. We don’t need a lot of complexity and we don’t need every day project management.
3. What is your favorite routine in a project?
I keep an “accomplishment journal” of my daily tasks. It’s important to me to do a weekly and monthly look back at what I got done. So my journal (and the logbook in Things) are important for me and I get a lot of motivation out of looking at what I have accomplished.
I also am more of a planner than an executer. It’s very easy for me to get lose in planning a task or project and then lose steam when it comes time to execute. What I am saying is, I love the planning, and I could get sucked into an app that gives me a lot of planning features. So by layering your app with many planning features, you might make me happy. But you might also make me LESS productive. :)
4. What in your opinion is the most underestimated factor for project success?
Truth be told, it’s just plain energy and wellness. I experiment quite a bit with new ways of organizing my work, playing games with myself to stay focused. But I don’t think there is any app in the world that can help me as much as getting up early, eating well, sleeping well, exercising a little and taking breaks to drink water and breath fresh air. Nothing you can build into Merlin means as much to my overall success as my personal wellness does.
I have also come to value process over outcome. I manage my “goals” not by focusing on them, but on processes. Instead of thinking about losing 20 pounds, for instance, I prefer to think about daily dog walks, eating green vegetables every day, drinking a lot of water. I get overwhelmed by desired outcomes, like sales number goals. Instead, I focus on smaller processes and trust the goals will be met if I stay on the processes.
5. What is your biggest time waster?
Like everyone else, online distractions take some of my time. But I am getting better.
My other big time waster is not having a good idea when I start in the morning what I am doing. It helps me – a lot – to plan the day before and come into an open notebook with a few tasks already outlined. If I come to work with an unclear idea of what I am doing first thing, I get moving quickly and then the momentum carries me. To put it another way, my big time waster is having to figure out what I should be doing. So I prefer to do it when I am “warm” the day before, rather than when I am “cold” first thing in the morning.
Thanks for your time and all the best for your next project.