One of the central tasks that we must perform as scientists – especially as we progress in our careers – is project management. To that end, I’ll admit that I find myself a bit overwhelmed with my projects lately. I have many different things I’m working on with many different people, and every week I seem to lose track of one or another. So I’m looking for a better method! It seems to me that the optimal method to keep track of projects would have the following characteristics:
- Ping me every week about any project that I have not touched
- Re-assess each project every week, both in terms of what I need to do and the priority for the project as a whole
- Split the projects into subtypes: data gathering, analysis, tool building, writing (etc).
- Be clear in my weekly/monthly/longer-term goals. Review these every week
- Some kind of social pressure to keep you on-task
Right now I use a combination of Wunderlist, Evernote, Google Calendar and Brain Focus (keep track of how much time I spend on each task with a timer)… but when I get busy with one particular project I will become monofocused and tune out the rest. Optimally, there would be some way to ping myself that I really do need to work on other things, at least a little. And it is too easy to adapt to whatever pinging mechanism the App Of The Moment is using and start ignoring it. Is it possible to get an annoying assistant/social mechanism that keeps you on task with a random strategy to prevent adaptation? IFTTT?
I asked about this on Twitter and everyone has a strong opinion on the right way to do this, and every opinion is different. They tend to split into:
- Have people bother you constantly
- Slack (only works with buy in from others)
- Trello and Workflowy
- Something called GTD
- Put sticky notes everywhere
- Spreadsheets with extensive notes
I’m super curious if there is a better strategy for project management. Perhaps I am not using slack correctly? Suggestions?