Don’t Lose Your Project Inside Your Backpack

What comes to mind when you think about project management?  Planning, organizing, budgets, constraints, deadlines, etc. are all typically taken into consideration to complete a project.  Technology vendors such as Microsoft all seem to have the latest and greatest software to coordinate project management activities, but is there a simpler way?

Kevin Purdy wrote an article on Lifehacker, a website providing software and personal productivity recommendations, and discussed how the “good old” whiteboard helped him successfully plan a major conference.  Purdy references that he unintentionally set himself up as the only person that really knew every task that had to be completed to put on the conference.  The conference was rapidly approaching, and he had “110 nervous thoughts” that needed to be acted upon to make the conference a successful reality.

Purdy decided to gather the appropriate members that were helping to plan the conference, and they marched off to a room with nothing more than some desks and a whiteboard.  He states that they accomplished more in that room than they had in their last 6 to 8 meetings combined, and he credits it all to the whiteboard.  He indicated that the whiteboard reduced time in the overall decision making process.  Purdy says in his article, “You write something, add a question mark, and people in the room can decide on it right then, instead of across days in an email thread.”

So how else can a whiteboard solve a project management dilemma?  First and foremost, writing things down is always helpful, and whiteboards are big enough for everyone on the project management team to see.  Whiteboards tend to make it feel less like you’re committing to something and more like you’re throwing out an idea for consideration.  Whiteboards also inspire you to fill all of the space, and therefore expand and branch out your thoughts.

As Purdy also references, “Whiteboards are nearly impossible to lose inside your backpack.”  This seems like somewhat of a sarcastic comment at first, but think about it some more.  It actually makes perfect sense.  It becomes very difficult to lose sight of your goals and objectives when they are as big as life on a board right in front of you. By putting everything on a whiteboard you can motivate others to complete tasks and you can really start to control your resources. The whiteboard becomes the project management plan.

Not every project is overseen by someone with a project management background either.  For those people that aren’t very good at explaining what tasks need to be completed, the whiteboard may just be your savior.   Software, risk analysis, implementation plans and other project management tools might be needed for more complex and sophisticated projects; however, the next time you’re stuck on a project, consider the simple, cheap whiteboard as an alternative.


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5 thoughts on “Don’t Lose Your Project Inside Your Backpack

  1. This is an interesting article. I do like whiteboards and I think they are a very useful tool for project managing. You can lay out the plan for everyone to see. It is easy to use and hard to lose.

  2. Sounds like a plan! After reading this article, I think I’ll put up a big whiteboard in my room. I most definitely need to enhance my organization skills.

  3. I think this article was really interesting! I do some project management and I have used a whiteboard to lay out my thoughts. After writing down all my thoughts and tasks, I can collaborate with others on my team and each person sees a task that they will complete. When they finish the task they can strike it off on the whiteboard and later on we clear the whiteboard to reveal a blank slate. The idea of having a blank whiteboard boosts productivity and creativity, knowing that were so close to finishing all the tasks motivates us to work quicker and seeing an empty whiteboard motivates us to be creative and to think outside the box.

  4. I liked this article because it brings back to us the importance of the little things. Things such as blackboards allowed this team to be more productive and get things done quicker. I use whiteboards occasionally in my weekly meetings, and it also helps to keep everyone involved. Throwing around ideas without thr visual makes it more difficult to “see the process” so to speak. It’s also helpful in knowing it’s not going to come off of the whiteboard until the task is completed (if you’re using it in that fashion). On a different note, it also gets people away from making notes on phones or tablets, which are a distraction in and of themselves with access to Internet and such,

  5. In the technological centered world, the concept of a whiteboard really simplifies objectives. Sometimes everyone is so focused on using the newest innovations; they can forget how effective a simple whiteboard can be within a meeting. I think the brainstorming stage of a project or task is most impacted by having a canvas that can be changed by any member. Something about a temporary surface sparks creativity, knowing that if it doesn’t work, it can simply be erased. I think businesses could benefit from reading this article and recognizing that in a world with innovation after innovation, there are methods that can produce quality results without the newest technologies.

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