Every job can be broken down into its component parts and every professional that operates effectively in what they do has some way of determining and prioritising the parts that make up any given project.
One of the most common ways of doing this is to create an “action list”. Anyone that knows me, knows I love my lists. At the start of each day, I write down in no particular order, the tasks I need to attend to for that day. I then allocate time to each of those tasks and prioritise the day.
I start with tasks that are relatively straight forward and/or can be done quickly so that I can get a sense of achievement. When I start a task, I put an arrow in front of task description to indicate that I’ve started the job. When I feel I’ve achieved more than half of the job, I go back to the arrow and fill in the arrow head. When I’ve finished the job I put a tick through the arrow. Each milestone achieved comes with a reward – a walk around the garden, a coffee, or maybe a peak at my favorite You-tuber.
Fine, you might say. You may also say you do this sort of thing in your head. Well, I would suggest to you that the best way I know to stay focused, to be clear about the tasks and deadlines and to keep the client in the know about what you are doing, is to keep an Action List.
In formal meetings, as you may already know, whenever a decision to act has been made, an action statement is noted in the meeting minutes. This then becomes a record of what tasks will be attended to, when they’ll be achieved and by whom.
Likewise, when you are working as a service provider and you are with a client, it is a positive sign of your professionalism if you note all actions that you, or your client, will undertake as part of the process of service provision. Not only does it function as a record of who will do what and when, it helps to effectively and efficiently address agreed upon work activities. It also feeds into your billing process and keeps everyone aware of what work has been done for the project.
If I’m doing a mastering job, I’ll listen through the song and note all the actions I intend take to address the song’s mastering needs. This may include any issues, such as clicks or unwanted sub bass energies, or sonic enhancements. If the client is attending the session I’ll inform them of what I’ll work on, if they’re interested, and then work through them methodically.
These days with the apps that are available, you can keep an action list online and everyone involved can track progress relatively easily. My current preferred way of working is to use an iPad and Apple’s Notes app to handwrite action lists that are later accessible online as a shared document. I love the freedom to be able to quickly create text and other graphic images to convey important information to my clients.
Next time you are working with a client or working on a project, try noting down an action list and see the difference for yourself – it will make a world of difference to your professionalism I’m sure.