Keeping good notes

by Stuart on 3 October 2011

One of the features of many projects is lots of stuff going on at once.  It’s what makes project management fun!

One of the downsides to this is that there’s … lots of stuff going on.  And you need to keep on top of it all.  Can I strongly suggest keeping a logbook?  A hardback book with numbered pages is the best, as it’s very hard to lose a vital page if it’s bound in such a book.  And write in ink because pencil can fade and be rubbed out.  You might need these notes later…

Why lumber yourself with something else to carry around and keep up to date?  Because you can’t remember everything and it’s sometimes really useful to be able to recall a telephone conversation that happened 4 months ago.

Also keeping notes can help with subtle problems.  Let me explain with an analogy.

My friend Sid had some niggly little health issues; a runny nose, a minor headache that just wouldn’t go away, a sore foot and a few other bits and bobs.  In themselves none of these symptoms were terribly serious, or even serious at all; hardly worth wasting a doctor’s time.  But put together, his GP came to the conclusion that Sid was suffering from “galloping wormy head-rot” or some equally strange and dreadful disease.  Since he caught it early, he was able to fix it easily and painlessly.  Had he waited much longer, he would have needed an arm transplant, or six months of some ghastly treatment. *

That’s a deliberately silly example, but projects can have the same sorts of things going on.  Silly little issues can crop up, none of which are very important in themselves.  But put them together and …

If you keep a logbook and make a note of things going on in your project, you may very well see a number of silly little issues that together have the potential to scupper your project.  And even if you don’t, it’s good to have one place where you note telephone conversations, discussions about changes, etc etc.

So you have a choice.  Carry a relatively light notebook around, and use it, or just wait until the disaster happens.  A long time ago I opted for the book.  And it’s been worth it.



*NB galloping wormy headrot is not a real disease.  I don’t have a friend called Sid.  I made it all up.

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