Do Your Projects Need a
Good Spring Cleaning?
Ahhhh… it’s spring! Bring on the sunshine and flowers, and say good-bye to all that snow. One of my favorite things about spring is the grand tradition of “spring cleaning” homes, closets, desks. It’s a time to remove clutter, to look in all the dark corners, to brighten and refresh.
The concept of spring cleaning can also be applied to project management. (Projects and processes can get some pretty dusty corners over time!) At home, it’s easy to determine your approach to spring cleaning—start upstairs and work your way downstairs, or focus on closets first. Doing a project spring clean takes a little more time, and figuring out where to start can be challenging.
These four strategies can help you identify what parts of your project could use a deep clean versus just a little dust and polish:
1. Determine when to clean.
For houses, spring cleaning in the spring makes sense. You’re putting away all the snow shovels, sleds, and winter coats and getting out the gardening tools, patio furniture, and T-shirts. With projects, when to clean is really up to your needs. Figure out what makes the most sense from a timing perspective. Is it annually? Quarterly? After every project is completed? Once you know what works for your organization, map it out and stick to the schedule.
2. Ask a user.
Sometimes you get so used to seeing or doing something that doing it differently just doesn’t occur to you. A fresh perspective can open your eyes to what it’s like experiencing your project for the first time, the way it’s intended to be experienced. Get feedback from someone entirely new, rather than another person on your team who can “take a look.” Ask the user specific questions about their experience to uncover what could use some cleaning up. (Simply asking, “What did you think?” isn’t going to give you much.)
3. Do some “power cleaning.”
Maybe you know the drill: You’ve got 10 minutes before you have to leave the house, so you look for small cleaning projects to knock out in those 10 minutes. You can use the same philosophy with your projects (although 10 minutes maybe isn’t quite enough time). Identify a few things you can change that wouldn’t take very long but would have an impact on the project. This will help to create momentum and keep you motivated to get the next thing done. Once you’ve done some quick power cleaning, you can move onto the things that require more intensive deep cleaning.
4. Evaluate your tools.
It happens every year during spring cleaning: You try to start some piece of equipment only to find it finally bit the dust. Your project cleaning is the perfect time to evaluate whether to let some of your old equipment and tools die. Use it as an opportunity to determine whether they’re worth fixing (maybe by simply tweaking the way you’re using them) or if it’s time to invest in a newer model.
As creatures of habit and routine, we may feel hesitate or even overwhelmed by the idea of change. Yet, change can be a very positive, energizing thing. Much like the changing of the seasons from winter to spring, change can generate excitement and create new opportunities. Take advantage of this excitement by spring cleaning your projects on a regular cadence. By continually reviewing your project process and tools, you can keep everything in “spring clean” condition all year long!