Well I’ll tell you. The key to having more time is… planning. The more you do in advance and organise yourself, the more time you will have.
Like with having more time, the key to any project is planning. Putting together a project plan is the fist thing you should do when starting a new project. More often than not planning for a project is put aside in favour of getting on with the tasks you need to do to get the project rolling. If you start with the plan, before setting to work, you will not only save yourself time and money, but also problems down the track.
I’ve put together a simple and straight forward way of tackling project planning. Enjoy!
Step 1 – Outlining the Project
Firstly, you need to know exactly what the project you will be undertaking is, and who will be involved in the project. You also need to consider who will benefit from the outcome of the project so that you can be sure to include possible changes. A small project like a family camping trip might involve planning and execution from 2 adults, and the children simply benefit from the project. Depending on how long you will be away, you may need to have a family member or neighbour collect your mail. While a bigger or smaller project will involve different types of people and different numbers of people. Its important to identify who will be involved early on so that you can assign appropriate tasks.
Once you have that bit sorted you need to discover their needs, as well as the outcome you want from the project. The family camping trip for example; although only the 2 adults will be making the preparations they need to consider the needs of their kids, and finding someone to get the mail/look after the dog. This brings us to step 2.
Step 2 – Setting Achievable Goals
I recommend making a list of all the things you need to consider for your project. Using what you have learnt from step 1, put together a list of all the to-do tasks you can think of that are reliant for your coming project.
Using the above example you might need to consider: the weather for the time you are away, appropriate clothing, food, activities, transportation, location etc.
Once you have this list you can then prioritise the tasks into most important to least important, or things you will need to do first verses things that can wait until closer to your ‘due date’. For example you will want to make sure you have the correct equipment for what you plan to do, and booking a site so you don’t miss out, but you wont need to pack the car until closer to the date. Each item on your list can become a goal, and by prioritising you are setting achievable outcomes to make sure everything stays on track.
Step 3 – Project Action Plan
Following on from step 2 you now need to arrange who will do each task, how long (hours/days) it will take them, and when they need to have it done by. Setting goal dates means you can easily know at a glance if you are on track.
Completing this list will give you a much more reasonable idea as to how long this project will take you to get organised, and weather or not you can reach your overall ‘due date’. If you find that there is not enough time to get everything done before then, you have a few options. You can change your ‘due date’ and move it back to give you adequate time to get things ready, you can ask for help from someone else to help share the work load, or you can reduce the number of tasks on your list.
Step 4 – Supporting Documents and Keeping Organised
This forth and final step helps you deal with all the documents that come with a new project. It will also help your project run smoother while you are actioning your tasks and getting things done.
If you are working with other people and all completing different tasks you need to keep track of the things that are getting done. I recommend using some form or communication book or spreadsheet (depending on the size of your project, where participants are etc). Even if you are working alone its a good idea to have a worksheet with all of the details you have come up with so you know what there is left to do.
You might find you have a number of brochures for locations for your trip, or carpet samples for renovating your bedroom, or you have quotes and receipts that you need to keep track of. I recommend getting a folder, or box, or starting a filing system so that you keep track of everything. Once you complete a project it is much easier to get rid of the things you will no longer need, and to find the important documents you will need in future.
And that’s it! Happy project planning!!!