When I’m planning a project, I like to see it all laid out in front of me. I like creating lists, scheduling it, and then crossing it off my list – done!
There are a number of tools you can use to plan your project and keep track of where you’re up to, and cross off tasks as you get them done. These tools don’t have to be complicated software. Thankfully there are paper-based and some simple software options (with handy apps) available that you can use instead.
At a really simple level, a notebook or diary can help you track your project. You can use post-its, index cards, or pieces of paper to do the initial planning and then transfer your final list to a notebook and schedule project time into your diary.
I like writing things out because I seem to remember things better. I also like to see the schedule laid out in front of me so I can plan around potentially competing priorities. So for me, a diary of action items where I’ve allocated time works a treat. I can plan on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis all the things I have and where I need to be!
When it comes to planning steps and timelines for a specific project, I like to work with software. In the past, I’ve worked with Microsoft Office Outlook using the task list to manage ongoing events and to populate my Microsoft Outlook Calendar, and Excel to map tasks against a timeline, using the columns and rows to make a grid. Both these options enable me to see a full picture of tasks and potential timelines in a big picture. If you’re familiar with this software and don’t want to try anything new, I would suggest having a play with one or both of these to see if they suit your needs. I use Excel to map my Communications Plans, map out my subjects for my university degree, and workshop delivery plans. This way I can use colours to differentiate between aspects of the business or planning processes, which makes it easy to see where I’m up to.
Another option now available is project planning software such as Asana, Trello, Monday, or Microsoft Planner. While I’ve seen online advertisements for all of these, I’m personally most familiar with Asana as I use it for all my projects whether it’s milestones in a study course I’m completing, annual business plans, or a specific project such as developing a training course. Asana comes with an app for my iPhone which means I can track my tasks, subtasks, due dates, and also that lovely part of checking things off my list! (By the way, I’m not an affiliate for Asana – I just enjoy using it). One of my friends uses Microsoft Planner – and while she’s tried Asana says that Microsoft Planner just fits better with how her brain works. Many of these options have free trials or free plans, so why not have a play and see what works for you!
Do you have a preferred project planning tool? I’d love to hear about it and why you like it! Leave your comments in the space below.
Have a great week.
Making changes in your life can seem like an impossible dream. The idea of making change, of what to do, how to get there – and even knowing what you want can all seem too much. Where do you even start?
The way I tackle problems or goals like this – regardless of how big it might seem – is by breaking it down into steps. Still too big? Break it down into even smaller steps. Just keep breaking it down until it something you can mentally wrap your head around without hyperventilating over the enormity of it all!
When you take things step by step, your focus is purely on what you’re doing next. One thing at a time. A 6km hike starts with one step. Every single step is progress towards the end result. Just focus on the next step or goal in front of you and move towards that.
For example, when I wanted to set up my own business I had absolutely no experience in that area and no idea of how to get there. But I knew what I wanted – my seemingly impossible dream. I wrote down all the things I thought I needed to do to get there. Some of those things were simply written as research: find out about business structures, find an accountant who I could work with, research marketing avenues, find out what marketing is. What I found out during research often generated more things I needed to do, and they went on my list.
I put my list in a general timeline order and grouped like things together: research, appointments, training I could attend. Then I would do one thing every day such as book an appointment, attend an appointment, find business advice websites, read one or more business websites, borrow a book, attend training. Every day was one step in my mind towards my end goal. Every step got me closer to what I wanted to achieve. Did I have all the answers when I started? No. Did I have all the questions or steps outlined when I started? Again, no. But I started. I made a plan of what I knew and went from there: step by step by step.
What ‘impossible dream’ do you have for yourself? What do you need to do to get there? How could you break it down into smaller steps to make it manageable?
If you took one step every day, would it make a difference?
Need some help getting started? Come and see me for a coaching strategy session and we can talk about what you’d like to achieve.
Hope you have a fantastic week!
If you undertake any project in the corporate world, the first thing you need to do is make a plan. You’ve probably heard about marketing plans, communication plans, software implementation plans, strategic plans…and so many other kinds of plans. These all have one thing in common: a clearly defined outcome to achieve in the most efficient way possible. That means considering the time and resources (people and money) available, the stakeholders: who will be impacted, who else needs to know; possible risks, threats and opportunities. All this is identified and strategised before any action is taken. Why? Because if you don’t the project can fall flat on its face very quickly: over budget, no resources, people not engaged, and the goal no where near achieved. Massive fail.
So why is it any different with a personal life change? Why wouldn’t you sit down and make a plan? If you really want to achieve your end goal, the best way to start is with a plan. So where do you start with that? First of all you need to define the problem. What are you dealing with? Why isn’t it what you actually want? What would you like to change about where you are right now? You need to understand what that looks like first.
Then define your goal: where are you going? Don’t get bogged down in the how right now – that's the fastest way to find yourself going nowhere! Just put some words around where you want to go. How would you like your current experience to look, feel, sound, smell like? How would you like to feel while you’re experiencing that part of your life?
You can break down that end goal into two parts if you like:
Once you have the here and there defined you can see the gaps in between. This is where you plan comes into place. What do you need to do to get from here to there? Start by making a list of these things. Don’t worry about the order or the how – just write them down so they’re out of your head. Here’s some suggestions for things to think about:
Write down all the things you need to do – even if they seem small. Writing them down means you don’t have to keep remembering them: you can see them in front of you like jigsaw pieces and you can begin to play with them and see how they fit together.
You might like to gather a list of those things used in a corporate plan:
Once you’ve gathered all the information you can start to structure a plan. You know what you’re dealing with, where you’re going, and what you need to do to get there. Put your list in order of a timeline – what needs to happen first? What needs to happen next?
A good idea is to write things on post-it notes or pieces of paper so you can shuffle them around into an order. Once you have an order, write it out and schedule time in your calendar for each of your steps needing action.
All these steps may not be necessary for every change you implement – but the basic structure will help you put a framework in place so you can actually achieve what you set out to do. Even if you don’t know what all the steps are, you have a general idea of the direction you’re going and the who, what, when, how much involved.
Once you have a plan – don’t forget to take action! Just thinking about it doesn’t get anything done 😊
Need some help with your planning? Book yourself in for a coaching session and we can work through it together.
Have a great week!
Life experience has taught me a lot about change - its messiness and my desire to circumnavigate it in a more efficient way. In this blog I share my experience so you too can survive change with a smile on your face!