In response to popular demand…

People often ask how I keep track of my copywriting work, so here’s the at-a-glance progress chart I use.

As each project runs, you simply move Post-It Notes along the grid from left to right. Note that the columns with red headings are ‘action by you'; the columns with black headings are ‘action by your client’.

Progress chart

Preparation

Get a whiteboard or piece of flipchart paper and stick it on the office wall where you can’t help but see it.

Divide it into six columns and mark them with the headings as shown (or adapt the headings to suit your own requirements).

Write all your client or project names on different Post-It Notes and stick them in the appropriate columns. For cashflow tracking, you could add the overall £ value of each job too.

How to use it

When running a business, it’s important to keep the money flowing in. So, first thing each day, look at the final column to see if there are any overdue invoices that you need to chase.

Next, check whether there are any followups you need to do for items in the ‘in progress’ column (in my experience, some jobs stay there for a while).

Then, look at the ‘Ready to start’ and ‘Ready to quote’ columns to prioritise your tasks for the day. Depending on your cashflow situation, you may decide to do your quotes before you start doing any actual work, or the other way around.

Finally, you may wish to contact your prospects in the first and third columns to see if they’re ready to take the next step.

Why it works

Memory works on visual cues (at least mine does, maybe yours does too). It’s why people leave objects at the foot of the stairs as a reminder to take them up next time they go, or by the front door so they don’t forget them when they go out. The chart helps ensure you don’t forget anything.

You can see at-a-glance whether there are any gaps in your pipeline. For example, if there are no Post-Its in the first column, you urgently need to do some prospecting (networking, marketing, advertising – whatever works for you).

The most important piece of business advice I ever heard is ‘don’t run out of money’. Using the chart keeps your focus on where the money is and how best to spend your time.

What to do

Why not give it a try and let me know in the comments how it works for you. Good luck.

5 Responses to In response to popular demand…

  1. Stuart July 3, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    Love it Jackie, guess what I’m doing this weekend now?

    Will share with my colleagues and contacts, if ok with you. I want them to get some of this good stuff too

  2. Luke September 17, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    Whoa! That’s a classic planning board from agile software development :) Nice.

    • Jackie September 18, 2014 at 8:09 am #

      Is that where it comes from? I never knew that!

  3. Steve February 10, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

    Yes, AgileZen kanban style project management software at
    http://www.agilezen.com/
    does this beautifully.
    Customize it to your heart’s content.

  4. Jackie August 4, 2015 at 7:54 am #

    Just discovered the online equivalent is Trello – the free, flexible, and visual way to organize anything with anyone.

    https://trello.com/

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