So you’ve set your SMART Goal, identified the resources you need to reach the goal and you’ve selected a location to implement your plan. What do you do next? In Project Planning you organise each step you need to take to accomplish your goal.
Project planning is a very extensive topic. Unfortunately, it’s beyond the scope of this post to give you a diploma in Project Management. However, I will give you some tricks that will help you out.
Simple Project Planning
Simple projects are very easy to plan.
- List all the steps you need to take to complete the project. You’ll naturally start at the beginning and work your way to the end. However, don’t stress too much about the order at this stage. You may get halfway down the list and realise you missed a step earlier. Just add it where you are and continue on.
- Once you’ve listed all the steps, you need to order them. Think carefully about your workflow, and the steps that need to be completed first. If you have three jobs to do in one section of your workshop. Try to work on them sequentially so you spend less time walking around. Also, think about the order steps need to be completed. There’s no point assembling the project before you’ve cut your material During this step you’ll likely find steps you missed the first time. Don’t stress just add them where appropriate.
- Now review your plan. Talking out load may make you appear daft, however, it activates other areas of your brain. So, when you’re reviewing your plan, read it out loud to yourself and run your finger along the words. What you’re doing here is activating the parts of your brain associated with speech, touch, sound and movement, causing them all to concentrate on your plan. Rather than just your eyes concentrating on it. You’re far more likely to find any omissions using this method than reading it silently.
You can use a notepad and pen for this. The advantage of this is it never breaks down and is usually available. However, notepads and slips of paper can get lost. I use https://asana.com/ for planning simple projects. It has a phone app so I can access it anywhere. It will also allow collaboration.
Complex Project Planning with Gannt Charts
Simple projects involve just you and are usually completed in a day or a week. More complicated projects may involve input from other people or longer time frames to complete. You may have multiple workflows occuring simulteanously to reach your deadline. Complex projects are also often collections of simpler projects.
Gantt charts tell you and your team when different aspects of the project need to be started and completed. They show which tasks can run at the same time. And when you need to have resources available. To create effective Gantt Charts, you need detailed knowledge of the time and resources to complete elements of the project. If you don’t have the knowledge find out. Using Gantt Charts effectively will let you adjust your plans when delays occur. Do yourself a favour though, use software to make your Gantt Charts. https://www.ganttproject.biz/ is a free software package that will produce your Gantt Charts. Or you can get the paid version of https://asana.com/
To create a Gantt Chart
- Identify each element of the project. Understand which elements are dependent on other elements being completed and which elements can be run simultaneously. Have clear estimates of the time required to complete each element and what resources you’ll need. You can do this in the software, but you may find it easier to scribble it on paper first then transfer it to the software later.
- Once you’ve collected all this data, enter it into your software.
Simple projects are easy to plan, list your steps then order them, then review. Complex Project Planning, depending on the size of the project, can take days, weeks or months. However, the more complex your project the more important the planning process is. I read on a programming t-shirt once “Hours of coding can save minutes of planning.” This is true of any project or goal you have. Jumping in and getting started feels faster. However, you often get to a stopping point and don’t know how to continue. Remember the axiom, Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.