Stay On Track
project management can be incredibly difficult. And a lot of business owners end up dropping the ball. My husband does all of the project management for our podcast production agency. And because he spent time really thinking through the process and and putting all the pieces together, he gets to take a nap most afternoons and work on his own personal projects instead of spending all of his time worrying about our company getting started with a new client can be a lot of work. So let's talk about staying on track in this lesson. We're gonna talk about tracking your two DUIs, your deadlines and your time to make sure that everything gets delivered when you say it's going to be delivered. So just about any client project has a whole cascade of two DUIs deliverables, deadlines and managing it all can be overwhelming. I know it's super overwhelming for me. It's why I don't do it in our service based business. Um, but in this lesson, I'm gonna really break down how you can make this process...
so much easier and more predictable so that you know that you're always on track with your projects and so that your clients know that you're on track as well. And the key to this, the key to making sure that staying on track and getting all those things done is not overwhelming is having a repeatable process. And the way that you get to a repeatable process is making sure that your business is simple. So everything that we've done to this point. Thinking through our proposal. Thinking through our contract, thinking through that sustainable business framework is really coming to fruition here in how we think about the process that we use for bringing a client project to life. So the first step, the first step in getting out of the overwhelmed when it comes to staying on track is a brain dump. Now, if you are like me, I know that you are holding in your head an immense amount of information about what it takes to get a client project from start to finish. Some of that information might be in a project management app. A lot of that information, I bet is still in your head though. It has nowhere to go. It's just something that you know how to move from A to B to C. So the first step in staying on track is getting all of that out of your head, all of it, all of it, get it out of your head and onto paper and I do recommend pen and paper for this particular process. Just because you can be messy and you aren't, you don't feel hemmed in by a piece of software. So get out some pen and paper and do a brain dump. Think about the last client project that you did or think about the sort of generic client projects that you do, what are all the different tasks involved in that project. You don't have to list them out in order. Although I think it can be helpful to think start to finish but be messy. This does not have to be organized, it doesn't have to be perfect. Just start off by downloading onto your piece of paper. All the tasks involved in a project. Once you've sort of brain dumped that, think about all of the information or action that you need from your client. So if you think back to that lesson on proposals and also the lesson on contracts. We talked about client responsibilities, the things that you need from your client in order for you to be able to do your job. That's what we're going to brain dump next. So first your tasks second what you need from your client. It could be communication, it could be deliverables on their end, it could be action that they need to take and then finally brain dump all of your client communication. What are all the different points in time when you are communicating back and forth with your client, you're not gonna be able to capture all of it because some of it is really going to be different depending on each client. But there are I guarantee some pretty predictable emails that you send out or strategy sessions that you do and you can throw that all in that third part of the brain dump again when I say brain dump, I mean brain dump, I don't mean organization, this does not have to be organized, it doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be out of your head. Once it's out of your head then you can start to organize it, you can't organize it if it's not out of your head, are we clear on this? This is very important. So once you start to organize it, I would recommend organizing it into three sections very similar to those three questions that I just asked you. The first section is your tasks. What are the tasks that you do in any client project? And as you sort of start to bucket those tasks together, then you can start to organize them in chronological order as well. The second bucket is communication. What what communication needs to happen between you and your client at different phases and then third, what are the client activities? What's the stuff that they're working on? What are the deliverables that they are going to be sending to you? All that raw material you need to to do your work. That's the third bucket. And so as an example, what I've got for you here is a modified version of what it takes to launch a podcast. So this is straight out of our yellow house Media playbook on the left, you'll see the tasks that we are responsible for. There's a consultation, then we send a contract and invoice, then we create a client folder etcetera. All of those pieces. All of those tasks are part of what we do for our client every time we're going to launch a new podcast in the middle are all of the communications that we send in this process. So the first communication is responding to their initial inquiry. Then there's a follow up email after the consultation. Then there's the email we send, where we share their production folder with them and get them to schedule their kickoff call. And then there's the weekly updates that we send week in, week out to let them know what we need from them, what's coming from us and just a general update on the production schedule. Third client activities. The very first thing that happens is actually a client activity, right? They send us an inquiry, They fill out our intake form uh and that lets us know they're thinking about a podcast. They tell us a little bit about what they're thinking and then we schedule that consultation. So that that's actually the thing that kicks kicks the whole thing off as the process unfolds. Of course, we'll get a client go ahead, they'll sign and pay, they'll complete their pre production work, they'll do a sound tech audit with their producer, will create their initial content plan. All that good stuff that happens on their side. So again, once you've got that brain dump, then you can organize it into these buckets, the tasks, you're responsible before the tasks they're responsible for. And all of the communication that happens in between and you can start to lay them out in chronological order as well. You know, sticky notes is also a great way to kind of make this happen. So if you want to kind of make a big plan on your wall or on a white board with a bunch of sticky notes that allow you to move things around, highly recommend that as well. Now, once you've got things in this sort of basic organizational setup, you're gonna start to notice that you forgot things or that there were things that seemed so small that they didn't need to go on, but guess what? They need to go on there. So from there I'm gonna go back through that brain dump that now newly organized brain dump and I'm gonna look at the different buckets of tasks and what sub tasks might also be included there. So I've highlighted one for you here is an example when we start off with a new client after they've paid they sign their contract, we are ready to go, This is happening. The very first thing that we do is create a new client production folder. That folder in google drive is where basically all of the magic happens between us and our clients when it comes to putting the pieces together. So in that new client folder I'm going to add a launch overview again so that they know what the plan is and how long it's going to take. I'm going to put a bunch of worksheets in there so that they can do that pre production homework and I'm going to make sure that they have what they need in that folder to get a head start if they want to. It makes everyone's life easier. So that's one piece at the same time or immediately after I put that together, then I'm gonna send that communication, email and schedule a kickoff call and then from there the client can get started on their pre production work. The stuff that happens before we actually do that kick off consultation. So knowing that those things all go together that helps me wrap my head around how this project is actually going to get managed. Um So from here I can take this and put it into project management software or I can create a standard operating procedure that allows me to um link all of those tasks together to make sure that I'm staying on track every time I start up with a new client from there, I want to thank timelines specifically, I want to make sure that yes, everything is in the right order. And I also want to think about how long different tasks take. And I want to think about tasks relative to other tasks. So they're going to be a lot of different things that you do in a client project that are related to other tasks. Right? And that second task can't happen before the first task happens. So I can't create a client production folder before they sign and pay to see yes, we're getting started because if I do it's wasted work. The other thing that can't happen is I can't revise their podcast trailer draft until they've drafted their podcast trailer. Right? So those are contingent tasks. And the more I can think about those relationships again, the more on top of project management I'm going to be and the more everyone is going to feel super comfortable with where we are in the process. And then the other thing I want to think about our hard deadlines, hard deadlines. If you're not a super deadline oriented person may feel rigid, it might feel like you're being demanding of your clients, but hard deadlines are often how people organize their own lives. Um And so I want to make sure that I'm thinking through with each project. What are those hard deadlines that I can communicate to my client so that I ensure our timeline stays on track now that you've got this overview of how the project is actually going to unfold, what that repeatable process looks like. We can think about really communicating that timeline to our clients in a in a very structured way so that they feel good that the project is moving forward at the right pace Now, this is something that I include in that service's guide that I mentioned in our proposals lesson. Um but it's also something that we provide on an individual episode basis as well. Right? So I want to make sure that our clients understand that first we're going to decide on a topic. We're gonna decide that probably three months before that episode airs we're gonna book an interview. If that's part of this particular clients show, we're gonna book that Three months out, we're going to conduct the interview 1-2 months out. We're going to do a content and it one month out. And so I use all of these sort of relative time frames to communicate to a client here. This is what we need when we need it relative to the hard deadline of when a particular episode is going to come out. You know, communicating this to your client is a huge service to them. It's a huge service to you as well and it makes everyone feel more comfortable and confident if you ever get nervous about, you know, am I dropping the ball? Are they happy? Is this going a well, is this going at the pace that it needs to go Having this kind of timeline figured out before you get started on a project is so helpful. You're going to feel super confident, Super in control. And so is your client and that's a really good place to be. So good news, fiber workspace makes it super easy to manage your projects and track your to do. So I'm going to show you exactly how to do that. I'm also going to show you how you can manage communication inside a fiber workspace as well and how we can build out templates for all of those communication emails that you know, you need to see so that it takes as little time as possible. Let's talk about staying on track with fiber workspace. So any client project has a lot of moving pieces, some more than others. Fiber workspace gives you a central hub where you can track your two DUIs and track your time. So I think the best place to start to take a look at how you can manage your projects with fiber workspace is to go into your client projects. So on the left over here, in the knob, you're gonna click projects and here you can see some projects that we have set up already. So I'm going to go into this new client project and once you're into the client project and again setting it up that it's going to walk you straight through it. But the good stuff is right in here. So there's information on your billing schedule. But what we're interested in for this demo is the two tasks tab. So I'm gonna click task up in this menu area here and you can already see that there is a task that's reminding you to check on the payment that is due on this particular project, which is great because we want to make sure that we're tracking any payments that aren't getting paid. Um But we also might want to be tracking some of those big picture tasks that need to happen in your project and you can add those here. So this is just a simple to do list. We'll just add a to do item here, you can click enter, then set your due date, we'll set that one for tomorrow. Uh And then from there I can you can actually start the timer straight from your to do list to track your time. And I'll show you more about time tracking in just a bit. You can edit the tasks, you can defer the task, you can mark it as done all right from within fiber work space. So this is gonna be really helpful for you if you are managing sort of pretty straightforward linear tasks. Um and it's especially if you are working on them yourself. So this is a great place to organize those high level to do lists. If you're in a more complicated project, you might want to use project management software in addition to fiber workspace. But this is gonna be super helpful for making sure those high level maintenance tasks, admin tasks and project management tasks are on track inside of fiber workspace. Let's talk about time tracking. Time tracking is a surprisingly powerful tool. And even if you aren't getting paid by the time you put into a project, which I would recommend not being paid by the time you put into a project tracking your time is a great way to understand whether your pricing is accurate. It's it's a great way to see where there are places, you might be able to streamline a project places, where there might be additional friction that you can eliminate over time. And so time tracking, even if you do it once a month or once a quarter or maybe once per project can be really helpful in just understanding the health and sustainability of your workflow. So when you're ready to track your time, you're gonna want to find the time tracking tab over on the left hand menu, click time tracking, it's gonna bring this screen up and it's simply a timer, Right? So you're going to select the task or add in the task that you're working on, let's say I'm scripting an episode of my podcast and I'm gonna hit the start button and then I'm going to get to work um and so I'll be scripting along, I'll be writing, writing, writing, writing and then when I'm done doing that I'm gonna hit the stop button and that is going to add the time into my project activity log here. So as you go along and you build ours and different tasks into your time tracking, you're actually going to be able to pull up a view of how you are spending your time throughout your week. Project by project. Task by task, day by day. Again, this is super helpful for making sure that the way you're approaching your work flow, the way you're approaching each project is streamlined and efficient and that you're spending time on the things that you should be spending time on versus the things that easily eat up time and also eat up profitability. So again, even if you are not charging by the hour by the minute, you want to be tracking your time to make sure that your workflow makes the most sense.