Step Back to Step it Up: Tools for Capturing the Big Picture

Step Back to Step it Up: Tools for Capturing the Big Picture

Step Back to Step it Up: Tools for Capturing the Big Picture

In the midst of writing her first book, Elizabeth shares tools and tricks for taking time management to the next level.

I have to admit...

that I noticed I was starting to be a total sucker for trainings. Anything that said "book" and "success," I was listening to or reading. Learning isn't bad, but when it keeps me from actually focusing on what's most important for preparing for my book to come out in January, there's a problem. I'm in the process of discovering how I can take my own project and time management practices to the next level.

I thought it might be valuable to share with you what I'm learning I need to stay clear and calm in the midst of an enormously nebulous and potentially overwhelming project.

Whether you're writing a book, managing a large department, starting a business, or just trying to get through the day without missing a meeting, here are a few tips:

Establish a Capture Location: In the past, simpler note taking tools, Word documents, Google docs, or Google tasks have been enough to keep me on track with my responsibilities. However, that's currently not enough. I researched many different tools and decided that Asana was the right one for me and my team. In it, I can break down the different sections of the overall book marketing campaign by project. Then under projects, I can have tasks, and under tasks, notes. You may prefer other software like But for me, this is great because it gives me confidence that I can find what I need when I need it and keep track of progress.

Understand the Big Picture: I'm still in the process of developing just the right method for me, but it has become clear that I need something other than a task management system to see the overall scope of what's happening. Here are a few systems that I've seen other people use that I'll be exploring.

You can glean ideas from these concepts:

One of my friends, Jenny Blake, developed an awesome Google Excel doc with lots of pages that outline the different steps of the book marketing process, including a Gantt Chart.

One of my clients designed a really awesome Excel spread sheet where you can sort tasks by department, priority, urgency, deadline, and follow up plus take notes on the status. He kindly offered to share his template so if you e-mail with "template" in the subject line, my client joy director can send you a copy.

Another one of my clients just loves MindManager so that's another possibility to visually map out exactly where I'm at in the process and what's happening next.

Set Weekly Goals: I am vigilant about weekly planning so typically goal setting is not a problem. But since I'm so passionate about this book project, I slipped a bit and lost focus at times. Fortunately, I got back on track and clarified for myself what were the most important priorities now. That gave me the ability to really make progress on them, and also to not feel guilty when someone pointed out to me something I hadn't done yet.

Get Help: One of the reasons people don't do the above steps is that it makes it completely evident if you're incapable of accomplishing everything on your own. But my philosophy is that "reality is good." So instead of staying in denial about the enormity of the task, I'm recruiting help for the various items that fall outside of my strengths or are simply beyond my capacity to handle.
I hope that some of these insights resonate with you about where your system might be slipping and how you can become more clear and calm.

On a final note, let's not forget the priorities that don't end up on an Excel sheet...

Earlier this fall, my dad was in a bad bicycle accident. I'm incredibly, incredibly happy to report that he's recovering miraculously quickly. But it was such a poignant reminder to me keep life in perspective.

To your brilliance!

Elizabeth Grace

About Real Life E®

Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the founder and CEO of Real Life E® a time coaching and training company that empowers individuals to achieve more success with less stress through an exclusive Schedule Makeover™ process. Real Life E® also increases employee productivity, satisfaction and work/life balance through custom training programs.

McGraw Hill is publishing Elizabeth's first book in January 2013: The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress.

Elizabeth has appeared in Inc magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes and on NBC and is a monthly contributor to blog on productivity for creative professionals. She was selected as one of the Top 25 Amazing Women of 2010 by Stiletto Woman and as a member of the Young Entrepreneurs Council featured in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Mashable, and many other media outlets.

Elizabeth’s time coaching clients have the opportunity to go through her exclusive Schedule Makeover™ life transformation process through phone coaching and custom action guides or in-person training.

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