How to Keep Track Tasks With a Parking Lot Project
Organized by Sticky Notes
Does this sound like you?
“I am totally organized! Everything I need to do is on sticky notes all around my desk! Oh, and on that scrap paper in my purse… and of course, the notepad on my kitchen counter…”
If the answer is YES, this post is just for you! I used to keep what I considered “organized” lists everywhere – the sticky notes on my monitor, the scrap paper in my purse, the scribbles on my whiteboard. Oh, and of course in my phone’s notepad.
I knew “exactly” what I had to do because these lists contain it all!
However, the problem with this strategy is that even though I had the lists, and I knew what I had to do; the tasks remained unorganized and scattered. There was no project, no prioritization, and no schedule. Because the tasks existed, but there was no action happening with them. I choose what to work on based on what I felt like working on… (which, if you know anything about resistance, this is a key indicator of its appearance!)
Look around. Do you have ideas, projects, and tasks scattered on sticky notes on your desk? Scribbled on scrap paper? How exactly does this benefit you?
The Importance of Organizing Tasks
You know from my 5 Steps to Project Management series, that organization your projects and tasks will allow you to know exactly what to work on and when.
Tasks: a piece of work to be done or undertaken, go into the Parking Lot Tasks project list.
However, what do you do when you have a task, but it does not belong to any project?
This is where you can create a Parking Lot Project!
What is the Parking Lot Project?
A Parking Lot Project is a project space that allows you to include any tasks that do not yet belong to a larger project or process.
While it isn’t exactly a project, it is a placeholder for me to put these tasks so they are integrated into my processes, such as the weekly review. More often than not the tasks end up being build into another project overtime when the need is discovered, or they become part of a process.
Parking lot tasks are the tasks that need to be remembered, need to be completed (at some given point), but they have nowhere in particular affiliation with a particular project, at this given time.
Parking Lot Tasks exist, but with no specific prioritization, timeframe, or schedule. They are generally, those little things you know you eventually need to get done, that float around in your head taking up space.
As previously discussed in 5 Steps to Project Management, when ideas, projects, and tasks are floating around in your head and not in a game plan, the likeliness of them being executed is slim. You need to get out of your head and into a plan. But since parking lot tasks are not part of anything bigger, where do you put them?
Example Parking Lot Tasks
- Create a lightbox on the homepage.
- Email Pete regarding the brainstorming session.
Additionally, in time, Parking Lot Tasks may develop into a project, however, at the time of conception, they are just a single task. For example:
- Create a Social Media Contest.
- Obtain an Intern.
Both of the above tasks can certainly be created into a project with multiple sub-tasks. However, it is not necessary to do so until it is determined to be a priority and put on a schedule. The key is to consolidate all of your “to-dos” – associated with projects or not, into a single repository, rather than the sticky notes, scrap paper, and other impromptu places you store them.
Implementing a Parking Lot Project
In the tool Asana, I maintain a Parking Lot Tasks.
On a daily basis, I use this project area to accumulate and gather anything tasks that I may have written down elsewhere or have in my head.
On a weekly basis, during my Weekly Review Process, I review the Parking Lot Project and determine:
- Do any of the Parking Lot Tasks have a required due date?
- Do any of them need to be prioritized into a project?
Once I have asked these questions, I either keep the task as is in the Parking Lot, or I move it to an existing project or create a new project.
If you are not using Asana, you can organize your Parking Lot Project in the same tools as your other projects. This even works in a standard notebook. Just be sure to use a dedicated space that is clean, clear, and organized.
The Benefits of a Parking Lot Project
When you begin to organize all of the projects in your head on paper or in an app such as Asana, you free up space to allow for new ideas to flow in.
Tasks will often piggy-back off another idea and another and another.
Create Your Own Parking Lot Project
Gather up all of those sticky notes and paper lists and begin to fill up your Parking Lot Project!
I would love to see before and after pictures of your consolidation. Please feel free to share it in the comments below!