How to manage design projects

If you have trouble with managing all of the information that comes from working as a graphic designer, I'll share with you some of the project management system I've built using notion.

Hello, I'm Jenny Famularcano and thanks for being a part of my channel where I share how I live and work. As a graphic designer, I have been working at an agency and like many other members of my team, I juggle a number of projects with different clients different timelines. So you can only imagine the amount of information you would need to reference regularly and know where to store things. The system I'm going to be sharing with you today has been in the making for the past seven years, and I will probably continue to refine and evolve what works best for me.

Please note that this post will be primarily based in the note taking tool notion, but some things in my system started when I was using only Evernote for my project management. So any note taking base system could be utilized as well.

When you first open up my notion you're only going to see four main folders and that includes projects, areas, resources, and archives or the PARA system, developed by Tiago Forte and is the primary structure of all of my personal knowledge management.

How I designate what is in my "Projects"

Projects are items or bits of information that have a time deadline surrounding it client work that have deadlines or deliverables, different things are very time focused.

The second one for areas areas of responsibilities, things that change less frequently than projects do notes about my particular position at my company fitness or my health information about my school, there's just so many different things that I like to include in areas and this is something that will be an ongoing kinds of documents or notes.

For resources, this is where I like to keep things like tips or things that I'm learning on the internet, interesting quotes. These are all things that go in to my resources

For archives, this is the very last one, everything that doesn't fit or is finished or is completely done, I like to put into archives, so projects, areas, resources, they all have a home in my archive folder. Those are the four main folders. If you'd like to see how I manage my ideas and other parts of my notion, let me know in the comments below. But today, we're only going to be focusing on projects, projects are time focus. And that's how I dictate whether or not it's considered a project.

Full Projects homepage

For my projects. They're actually a collection within a notion database. And I'm able to filter between things like client work and personal projects. So whenever I'm at work, I use @C5 or an abbreviation of my agency, but it's more of where I am currently tracking time. So this is where I filter between client work and personal projects. So this comes from Getting Things Done, where whenever you'd be at a certain location, you would change the leg different at locations. But since we've been starting, like working from home is where everything is. So all of the things are in one the same. Whenever I'm at work, I use contextual like @C5 where I list of a bunch of different projects.

My current breakdown

We have a stand up meeting every single day. And this is when we share progress amongst our teams. So I only keep project name and the latest details here. And it makes it every everything very simple because I'm managing a lot of different projects at once. And each column I use the Kanban setting for this is organized by queue ready in process blocked and completed for queue. These are some things I know are coming. But I'm not quite ready to get started just yet. It's just something that I know is like kind of come down like my little pipeline for ready, it means I have everything that I need to get started. So if I'm not working on anything, I can pull something from the ready status and just get to work. for things that are in process. These are things that I'm currently working on. And so this is really useful for when I'm using and when I'm working on something over the course of multiple days, it's really great to know that I can just focus on whatever is in process and completed is when it's done. And I have this database filter that filters the completed projects out so I'm not seeing them anymore. And it's just gone. It's out of my radar, I don't need to think about it anymore. And it becomes visible in my archive. So it has its own view setting. So once it's in my archive, it's done-zo but if I need to resurrect something, I can always pull it back.

Each project is actually filled with links to the details on the project. This is where I house different pages for inspiration and mood boards. Whenever I'm working on a certain project. I like to have Have inspiration and mood boards very close to the project versus being somewhere else on Pinterest, which could be a little bit generic and I wouldn't know how to reference it. When I'm working on project per project, I also include any assets I may need on the course of a project. And this includes things like photos or fonts or colors or any existing assets that might contribute to my ability to deliver on this project. It all goes in one place.

This detailed page of the project also includes this table where each row represents a different deliverables within a project. And I call these stories as well. And each story actually has its own deadline or its own feature. A story can be a storyboard a wireframes, design round one and animatic. I know motion any sort of deliverable that includes some sort of deadline, I always put it in here. And it also includes things like the estimated hours and that gives me a better idea of how long something will take. Each individual story includes details or any conversations that I'm having on a current project.

Some social media work for Blizzard, testing out different word phrases.

I screenshot as I work, I tend to have conversations with myself. And this reminds me of that scene in Spider Man where Peter Parker is trying to figure out his costume, and he's sketching out and I think there was one more it's like, “needs more color!… question marks. It's these questions that he leaves himself so that his future Peter Parker self can answer them. And so sometimes I asked myself questions, whenever I'm working on a project does it need green? Who knows? Let's go ahead and see what happens. I've let myself really dig into the process and screenshot as I work and ends up being in conversation with myself on how I like to work.

These details also include feedback from our team or partners. Whenever I receive comments on a Google document, or a PDF or a Dropbox link, I always create an internal table within the deliverable or the story that I'm about to get started. And I keep the feedback that I receive as verbatim as I receive it. This also includes like where I found it right now it says timestamp but it can also take take the form of a page.

I like to keep the feedback verbatim as I receive it. Because oftentimes, feedback can be code that we have to decipher as designers or ask for more context, if it doesn't make sense. But it takes some time for me to read the information and kind of process it and have an action to answer. So I like to include feedback as verbatim as I like to receive it. And I like to break it apart into every single line as much as possible. So it's basic and easy for me to address. And then it just becomes a list of things that I need to work on and with a column and how I manage the changes. There's a full column, that is a text version in the notes, where I address feedback and say, “This is what changed” and I like to have that just as like a quick rundown.

Sometimes, I share that with my team, to make sure that they understand like all the actions that they were taking, and they're not looking at all of the details, if they don't need to, normally I don't run into any issues. But if there is some issues, then that can be indicated in “Blocked” and it's red. So it's clear that this needs to be addressed. So I include any completion and any other notes that provide context with the changes, because it's so helpful, I would find that helpful. So I always try to create it as if I'm referencing it. Again, I do this because people don't often realize how a little piece of feedback can have profound if not group like giant, rippling impact on the rest of the design. It helps me manage how a project has changed.

Throughout the course of a design phase, we make a decision that happens in design, round one, and then we go through design, round two, design, round three, design on four, five, okay, we're at six, we never get to six. But this is just for the examples, no six, and we're like, oh, why is it blue? We said in the brief that it was going to be red, and now it's blue. And when did that happen? And I have notes from every single round. And that helps me understand that, oh, we decided in around one having things verbatim where it said helps me pull out these things so that there's receipts so that we have an understanding of when things change. And we don't have to keep going back and there's no guesswork, and there's no miscommunication.

That's also why I love doing this, because it just helps me get clarity on any sort of communication that happens throughout a project. This also helps me summarize any blockers or any uncertainties that I might have in a project. Say if I have run into any questions or there's something that I've discovered that might potentially impact the project, I include blocked and then also include the details, and my questions. So I know and remember to address that, or else it's not complete.

I also like doing it this way, because it actually helps me feel pretty accomplished. If you've ever worked on client work. And you've seen something that you've created kind of change and evolve. And sometimes it turns out, not what you entirely expect. But I think having like a running document, it makes me understand why things have to change when things changed, and that I'm deliberate about my choices on why it changed. And that it was that all of the design work that comes through me is a deliberate choice. So having like a running document makes me be like, “Yes, I am choosing this path. This is where we're going and you’re going to have to deal with it.”

After that, I update every single deliverable in this way until the last deliverable, or story is approved. It's improved by my team, it's improved by the client are like, yes, it's so good. We don't got to do anything anymore. It's good. Then I just move it to completed and it's in my archive, I don't got to think about it.

Project is finished and away from my project page.

I go to my next column, which is ready and then I get to work on the next project. There's a long list of projects and already in the queue that I just need to get started and addressed.

If you decide to use any of my setups in your own project management, let me know on instagram @skybluejenny.

Thank you for following through my little Project Setup.

Photoshop Brushes used in thumbnail

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