Getting Things Done Like (My) Boss

As many of you know, I love talking to folks and finding out how they’re kicking butt and making things happen. I spend a good portion of my Saturdays out in the festivals and craft shows, just talking to these self-made entrepreneurs who have been building their business from the ground up, without venture capital, and long before being an “entrepreneur” was cool. My desire to learn from folks who were just plain “makin’ things happen” led me to a great talk with someone who has some serious skin in this game: my own boss.

Jason Collington is the Web Editor for The Tulsa World. He oversees everything we do in pumping out the news to all of our digital products. Under his leadership, www.TulsaWorld.com has grown to be the most popular media site in Northeast Oklahoma, and now gets more traffic per month than the next top 4 news sites combined. Subscribers can get their news in so many ways it’s undoubtedly a lot to handle, and yet Jason carries each day with a disciplined finesse that makes it look easy.

As one of the ‘World‘s Web Designers, I’m proud to serve under him, and so I was eager to hear his own process for gathering all the information he takes in at his numerous daily meetings and how he processes it to get it out the door and ultimately into the hands of the subscribers. It was unlike anything else I’ve heard before, but worth sharing.

He has a single piece of paper, with three columns on it: “Doing Now”, “Doing Later”, and “Think About” and then he has a space at the bottom for calendar items like meetings and dates he needs to remember. The trick is to always be adding to the “Doing Later” column, and shifting things into the “Doing Now” column. He will rearrange and rewrite that page several times over, changing up the priority based on the amount of time there is to get things done. “Think About” is a column reserved for projects that are still percolating, something we may want to eventually do but can’t right now because of time-constraints or just because we don’t have enough information. It keeps him from forgetting about what may turn out to be great ideas for Oklahoma’s largest family-owned newspaper.

One thing I particularly like is that he uses this process both at work and at home. He has another sheet of paper for “home” stuff, with the same columns and the same process. Disciplining himself in this area has allowed him to do everything from the essentials (like getting a will drawn up) to the lofty goals, such as finishing a screenplay in only 8 months.

In our meeting, he made it a point of stressing that this “is what works for me” and doesn’t expect the same process to work well for everyone. Even so, it does indeed work for him, and more of us could probably afford to at least try out his idea.

Jason keeps a running blog called Press Forward, which champions the digital movement of The Tulsa World and our journey to becoming the most sought-after publisher of local news and content. Readers who are interested in seeing what we’re doing here are encouraged to check it out!