Buried by the details that I can't find...
October 30, 2007 12:05 PM   Subscribe

How can I get organized at work?

I recently started a new role at work that has me managing projects (not people).

I have already made a few inprovements to the system that I inherited, but I am still having some issues when trying to track down details on the spot and give a history and current status.

I have a large multi-tabbed Excel spreadsheet that tracks project details (and cannot be modified very much as it is used in reporting); a list of next steps for the project that I send out every day (via Outlook 2003) - I keep up with some of the status chaging here as well; oodles of daily emails that pertain to my project in general, a test case, or a trouble ticket (which are tracked in my spreadsheet, daily email, to a degree, and a trouble ticket system).

What would be really helpful is a Gmail-type labeling system. I use Outlook and the rules disallow me from auto-forwarding mail. Labels or tags would let me to easily search for -project number-, -test case number-, or -ticket number- and see what has happened lately but it still wouldn't make updating my status on the spreadsheet and daily email messages any easier.

I'm in the process of getting a copy of MS OneNote which should make my note-taking easier to track and search.

When emails come in, I immediately (or by the end of the day) file them into folders, but sometimes I find that I haven't filed where I expected because, for instance, it is related to a ticket, but the ticket number wasn't mentioned, so I file it in the general project folder. I've had trouble in the past with Google Desktop retrieving items from an archive (and still do, even after a re-index).

What other tools could I implement here to make life and project management easier? Will Outlook 2003's categories and search folders give me what I need or is there more to this solution? I will soon be managing two projects at once and will need to be much more organized than I am now.

Also, I'm not looking for something like MS Project - I need help in managing the details of the project. The massive spreadsheet tracks the schedule, and it's not up to me to change that method at this time (we will be eventually migrating to Project).
posted by odi.et.amo to Work & Money (3 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This is somewhat similar to my question posted yesterday. I framed it in terms of nuggets/ideas but some of the concepts are the same. Whether its ideas or details, being able to manage, query and track bits of information can make a big difference in the success or failure of a project. Perhaps some of the tools mentioned by folks in response to my question will be helpful to you. I haven't had a chance to evaluate them all yet, so I can't say what worked for me.

Good luck. If you find an answer that is a good one, post a followup an let folks know.
posted by cptspalding at 12:33 PM on October 30, 2007

You could create folders (and subfolders) in your inbox to keep your project emails sorted. If you insist that a keyword is put into each project email's subject line, you can use mail rules to autosort.

If you have Outlook 2007, you can use categories to quickly identify up to six projects. (or group like projects together)
posted by Kioki-Silver at 12:49 PM on October 30, 2007

Response by poster: The thing is that I really need a better way of tracking and accessing the data that I already have in specificed places, cptspalding. And I shouldn't be writing things down because I have places for all the info to go (i.e., spreadsheet, daily email, email archive folders, ticketing system).

I need a better way to make sure the first 3 are up to date and easily searchable (Again, google desktop fails at this because it gets confused when I sort emails into my archive folders).
posted by odi.et.amo at 2:12 PM on October 30, 2007

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