Things I do when I start a consulting project.
I start with a new folder under 'Projects'.

My files are organized according to Projects, Areas, Resources, and Archives (P.A.R.A) as taught by @fortelabs fortelabs.co/blog/para/
The first thing in that folder is usually a google doc with meeting notes taken while scoping out the gig.

The second doc is a google slides document that I use to keep a running timeline of the project. It basically tells the story of what happens, as it happens.
I'm often working on multiple projects, so that slide deck is critical for helping me re-remember where we are and where we've been. Basically, I choose to optimize for "re-loading" the context instead of trying to remember it all.

Basically it's my narrative prosthetic.
P.A.R.A. helps me keep everything organized, but I still sometimes need help finding the right thing at the right time. And sometimes important resources live outside my google drive (e.g., a miro board). So links to those things get added to the slide deck, as they come up.
Next I need to get immersed in the details. I want to understand the context I'm entering as best I can. So that's a new Miro board, with every document, link, etc. all laid out so I can sort through it.
(wife calling, hang tight, will describe some important things about the Miro board shortly)
Okay, and we're back. (Liana and I have been married for 10 years today, so you BET YOUR ASS I'm taking that call.)
So something really useful for sense-making in miro is webpage screenshots. Miro actually has a tool for it in their extended menu (I think it's called "web page capture"). Sometimes it doesn't work, so I also use a browser plugin that will capture a full page.
Web page screenshots are useful for things like examining client sites, competitors, industry blogs, etc.

BUT it's also useful for grabbing screenshots of LinkedIn profiles. I want to know everything I can about all the main players, so that I know how to best serve them.
Sometimes there will be patterns. Like people going to a particular college, or an interesting background / career change. These all inform my mental models of the people involved, and that helps me show up on the right foot on day 1.
When I'm catching up on a (new-to-me) industry, usually I'll grab a bunch of blog posts and wikipedia articles that seem representative. I'll skim them for patterns, ontologies, etc. that help me see how it "works."
In miro, I'll turn interesting words and phrases into stickies next to the screenshot of the article. Then I can sort and group them later. Some of those will end up in a Wardley Map or two of the basic ideas in play.
Once I've made enough sense of the client context, I'll boil down the most useful parts into take-aways for the slide deck. This placeholds my sensemaking work so I can re-remember important conclusions or beliefs later on when I'm skimming that deck to pick the context back up.
Again, the slide deck becomes the keeper of the project narrative. Anytime a new deliverable draft, set of meeting notes, or client artifact enters the scene, it gets added to my folder and then referenced with a link in the slide deck.
Another thing I'll do is start the first draft for any deliverables right away. I'll even just put a placeholder headline in place, turn those into headings, and then add a table of contents. That way I can work on it throughout the whole project instead of waiting until the end.
Whenever I take meeting notes, I process those notes afterward in order to find notable highlights for the slide deck. If there's relevant content, I may also copy them into the deliverable draft for later editing.
Basically, I try to make having to start from a blank page nigh impossible. And since I'm drafting the deliverable bit-by-bit as the project unfolds, there's very little heavy lifting to be done towards the end. It's just a cleanup and organization problem.
There are some other things I do which are helpful... One is creating a Burja Map of all the key players so I can stay actively aware of relationships, alliances, and personal dispositions. tasshin.com/blog/series/bu…
On a weekly basis, I'll refresh my ideal present for the project. Just to make sure I'm being intentional about the work. (I hate hate hate when a project turns into a slow motion trainwreck, so I want to do everything I can to catch any problems early.)
There are other little things, such as setting up a new project in my time tracker, but I think I've covered the big ones for starting a new consulting gig.

Hope you found this useful! 👍

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