Herding Cats or Project Management

Cats Herded

You start with your cats all neatly corralled on your “to do” list as the day begins.  You review which ones need some attention so they don’t wander off. You feed a few by making a phone call here or an e-mail there which helps to keep things moving forward. As the day progresses the phone starts to ring, the text messages arrive and the e-mails start to fly. Within a short period of time you find yourself jumping from project to project – the herding has begun. Once it has started, it can be difficult to maintain control. Before you know it you’ve spent an hour chasing down a lone stray that desperately needs attention, so it doesn’t go off and do something stupid. Meanwhile back at your desk, the mature ones just sit there and mind their own business, occasionally looking up at you with indifference. Time to refocus. Who or what to pay attention to next?  How to decide? The one howling the loudest seems like the logical choice. You put “the lone stray” back in the pen, and start to deal with “the complainer”. Complainers are an interesting lot. At first they appear all important and needy, but you often find with a little attention they quickly quiet down and go back to minding their own business. Next up are the softly “purring” ones. Often these are the one’s that will give you the most satisfaction. By spending a little time with them, they reciprocate in kind and all is well. But just when it appeared things were “all under control”, a lamp in the next room crashes to the ground. The instigator has struck again. Time to go pick up the pieces and put things back in order. As your day winds down, all your charges are safely back in one place. They’ve all been fed and cared for. A little progress has been made.  Tomorrow will be another day.

Dave Oshlag has been helping companies large and small stay organized and focus on the right projects for more than 25 years.  His specialty is saving hours of time wasted on disorganized systems without spending thousands of dollars. He’s best known for enabling massive changes in productivity with tools like W5 Templates that are simple, streamlined and get people organized quickly.

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