Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Out of sight - out of your mind?

I have been working on a wide variety of projects lately, and keeping track of the details and status of them all has been a bit nerve-wracking. Putting them on project lists helped a lot with what to do, but I still found myself searching for status information such as:

  • What have I done on this already?
  • Who am I waiting to hear back from?
  • What's left to do?
  • What's in process but not complete?
  • etc.

Managing this with context lists in the "GTD way" wasn't quite cutting it for me (or maybe I'm doing it wrong). I found myself going to multiple lists very frequently to try to get a holistic picture of where each of my projects stood. To solve this, I turned to my old pal Mind Manager to help me create a "status map."

My "real" status map has too much work-related information that I can't share publicly, so I have mocked up an example of one here. For each project, I map out things such as:

  • Desired outcomes
  • Research
  • Next actions
  • Other
  • Completed actions
  • Waiting for
  • Calls to make
  • To be done

You can (obviously) customize this in any way you'd like. I find that I can keep multiple projects current on my status map (I currently have 4 major "domains" of activity on my map - 3 for work, 1 for home). When I have status meetings, I can print a particular "branch" of the map if the status meeting is about a particular project, or I can print the whole map (I use 11" x 17" paper for better readability). I print the whole map (with the "Home" branch collapsed) when I go into one-on-one meetings with my boss, so I can take him through what I'm working on and where things stand.

As we go through the project review, I write on the printed copy of the map and re-integrate my notes back into my Mind Map later.

This is working pretty well for me, and makes it a bit easier to keep the plates spinning without letting any of them drop.

Here is another mocked-up section of a project to give you an idea the kinds of things that might be in some of the buckets (you can click to zoom in).

If you want to see a blurry, unreadable, zoomed out picture of my real map you can see it here, just for grins.