Summary: Is Managing Small Projects Right for You?

What this course is.

(NOTE: A singular term also implies the plural, and vice versa.) 

Objective: The objective of this course is to help you manage your everyday small projects by combining tools you already have (Outlook and OneNote) and can get for free (XMind mind-mapping) into a single and practical easy-to-use system to plan, communicate, and track progress for multiple projects.

Format: Hybrid of on-demand self-study at your own pace (content available 24/7 online for 12 months – details below) plus four live online, interactive, facilitator-led group workshops of 50-60 minutes each. 


  • Post in-lesson questions to facilitators.
  • Four weekly workshops.
  • Support by email and WhatsApp.
  • 30-minute individual consultation.
  • Invitation to join our weekly Productivity Pit Stop Live Support sessions on Tuesdays from 15:30-16:00.

What this course is not. It is not a formal course in basic or advanced project management. There is nothing about MS Project, GANTT or PERT Charts, Asana, Slack,, Trello or other apps.  This does not compete with Pince2. You can put it on your CV, but this is not an academic qualification.  It’s a practical set of tools to give yourself a better chance of having even more successful projects. and make your everyday life easier.

Questions?  Email Gerrit Cloete for answers.

More details about the course are available below.

Biggest challenges in managing small projects

In our surveys, people tell us all the time that these are some of their major challenges when managing their projects.

  • Keeping track of multiple projects
  • Information is “all over the show” in multiple locations
  • Using multiple systems
  • Poor planning
  • Prioritising
  • Time management
  • Communication.

Maybe you and your team experience these same issues in the projects you manage?

But what exactly is a “small project”?

Productivity guru David Allen defines a project as, “anything that takes more than one step to complete.”

It can include anything from putting a man on the moon to having a holiday.

We are focused on helping you to successfully manage your small projects.

I am willing to take a bet that you have many more small projects on your plate than you are aware of.  Just make a list of anything you want to get done that will require more than one step.

Anything in your job that fits this definition is a project. As well as things like having a successful birthday party. Or a holiday. Or to get an academic qualification. Or becoming a competent speaker. Or your department’s team-building weekend. Or designing a new course. Or buying a new house or car. Or changing your career.

These are all projects that require you to think, plan, communicate, track and complete it. That’s what this course is about.

You will learn how to use MS Outlook, MS OneNote, and the mind mapping software XMind to successfully manage your small-scale projects.

In this course you will leverage two pieces of software you already have, MS Outlook and OneNote.  You will combine this XMind, one of the most popular mind mapping programmes.

What this course is NOT:

  1. A formal “Basic Project Management” or “Advanced Project Management” Course.
  2. Training in how to use MS Projects.
  3. Training in how to use Asana,, Trello, Slack, MS Teams or any similar tools or combination of tools.
  4. About using advanced software to help you schedule complex projects using GANTT or PERT charts, with resource levelling.
  5. For managing large projects like putting a human on Mars.
  6. A certificated qualification.

A single system to manage your small projects

In this course you will leverage two pieces of software you already have, MS Outlook and MS OneNote.  You will combine this XMind (free download), one of the most popular mind mapping programmes so you can brainstorm, plan, organise and track your progress.

MS Outlook

“Tasks” is one of the most under-utilized modules in Outlook.

After this course you will be able to use it expertly to keep information for your projects in one place.

You will be able to have one view with all your projects and then dip into the one you want to work on.

You can even track projects through their phases, e.g. concept, design, stage, finishing, completed.

XMind Mind Mapping

XMind is a full-featured mind mapping and brainstorming app. It helps you think creatively with free-flowing thoughts.

With its unique “markers” it makes it easy to see who is responsible for what and also the status of every activity.

Should you choose to get the paid version of Xmind, you can create Gantt charts, presentations and Word documents directly from your mind map.


Get organized in project notebooks you can divide into sections and pages. With easy navigation and search, you’ll always find your notes right where you left them.

With OneNote across all your devices, you’ll never miss a flash of inspiration.
Share your project notebook and collaborate in OneNote.
We recommend the use of OneNote (part of Office 2019 and Microsoft 365) rather than OneNote for Windows 10.  Read more about the two versions.

Course Content
(Click the dropdown to see details)

We are happy to adapt the content and delivery to match your situation.

  • Welcome and introduction.
  • Ovewrview.
  • How to use this course.
  • What is a project?
  • Return On Effort (ROE) – is it worth doing my project?
  • How a pre-mortem can prevent you from embarking on a project that is doomed to fail.
  • Project brainstorming trigger list (From David Allen’s best seller Getting Things Done.
  • Practical topics from our series of micro webinars.
    • 9 Steps to successful project planning
    • Stop poor communication from sinking your next project
    • Finish what you start
    • Defeating 8 demons of distraction
    • How to prioritise when things keep changing all the time.
    • Get more from your online meetings
    • Stop poor communication from sinking your next project
    • Time-saving tips, tricks and techniques for Outlook and Windows 10
    • Can the best be the enemy of the good?
    • Projects slipping into chaos? Prevention is better than cure…
  • Tasks – the basics: project description, timing, priority, reminders, notes
  • Using categories to focus on specific phases of a project
  • Save time by using Quick Parts
  • Use a consistent format for managing project information
  • Keep all project information in one Task – documents, contacts, email, everything
  • Syncing Tasks with OneNote
  • Templates
  • Topics, sub-topics. sub-sub topics, …
  • Using markers:
    • Prioritise
    • Assign actions to people/groups
    • Track progress
    • Flag for attention
  • Link to other mind maps for sub-projects
  • Hyperlink to websites, documents
  • Make notes about any topic
  • Group topics together
  • Use fonts and colours for emphasis
  • OneNote is on all your devices – never be out of touch with your projects
  • Setting up a notebook for each project
  • Create sections with pages and sub-pages
  • Sharing project notebooks with your team
  • Easy collaboration – see who said what
  • Record audio and video
  • Print PDF and otehr documents to OneNote.
  • Using tags to find info (by person or category) in one project or across multiple projects
  • Use templates:
    • Project overview
    • Prioritised ToDo list
    • Simple ToDo list
    • Checklists
    • and more…
  • Synching with Outlook Tasks
  • Clip relevant web pages directly to your project
  • Annotate pages
Click to mail Gerrit to set up a conversation and see how we can exactly meet your needs.


No. This course is exclusively designed for PC users. Even if you use “Outlook for Mac”, this will not be of value to you.

The video clips have been shot in Outlook 365. Although the user interface might be different in your version of Outlook, the same tips, tricks and techniques still apply. And if you get stuck, help is just a click away.

We have created a special segment in our Online School of Productivity platform.  You can watch the videos on any of your devices, 24/7.  We will email you your login link within 18 hours of receiving confirmation of your payment.   You have access to the course for 6 months, and longer on request.

Yes, you have direct access to the facilitators.

About Your Course Leaders, Duncan Hattingh and Gerrit Cloete

Duncan is the co-founder of the Online School of Productivity, and the lead facilitator and content creator at Productivity Pit Stop.

“I am a hard-working lazy person and I’m on a constant search to do things more effectively and efficiently. To achieve optimal productivity with minimal effort. Once I have found something that saves me time, effort, and stress, I love sharing it with the rest of the world.”

Gerrit Cloete is the founder of Productivity Pit Stop.

“My job is to make your life easier. There is no sweeter sound than hearing a “Wow!” when that happens!”