What is a project planner and why in the world would you need one? A project planner will take a big project, plan or idea that you would like to do or accomplish, but think you don’t have time for and break it into smaller bite size portions of time to make it doable. A plan. Planning a project.
“Did you know that if you spend 15 minutes a day on a project, that at the end of the week you will have spent 2 1/2 hours on that project? It is planning towards your project, goals and desires, and fitting time segments in during your week to accomplish your bigger goals.“Debbie Booth
I first learned of project planners from a roommate of mine in college that used them often. I was not familiar with them, or the need for them. She used them to plan and complete bigger projects. She was brilliant, wonderful, organized and always had a plan. More than that she completed her plans weekly and I was impressed and intrigued.
I began learning how to follow this organizational plan. Many years later I am simply using templates now to fill in the information I need to track so I don’t forget. That is how I created a productivity planner for myself. My work has always had deadlines, magazine articles with pictures by a certain time. The productivity planner is a place to write all the ideas down that I had in my head, and then begin making a plan how to create, make and complete those ideas.
The biggest thing I had to train myself to do was to learn how to use my time better. 15 minutes a day everyday is 2 1/2 hours by the end of a week. Or an hour a day everyday is 7 hours a week. That is almost a work day.
Talking myself out of using small increments of time was not wise because using small amounts of time adds up and helps you to accomplish some bigger goals when you are focused.
Here is a guideline I have worked on and put together that provides details how to use a productivity planner. I also have a productivity planner that is a simple printable HERE It works great especially if you want to fill in the pages with your thoughts and get them all in one place.
Productivity Planner Outline
Step 1: Define the project and objectives
- What is the purpose and expected outcome of the project? (To work on and finish your goals, your project instead of just thinking about it and getting frustrated that you don’t have a big enough block of time.)
- What are the important goals or deadlines of the project?
- What can be done with small amounts of time each day?
- What are the resources and budget available for the project? (What do you need to write, work, create, paint, build, video tape, clean, and so forth)
Step 2: Break down the project into manageable tasks
- What are the steps or stages of the project? (Do you need to group your items together, create a work space, have everything in one location to begin the work process?)
- What are the specific activities or steps required for each phase or stage?( I make a list at this point, things to get or group together, things to buy or borrow)
- How long will each activity or step take to complete? (Create a shorter time frame, make it workable so you will do it and not think this will take forever, why bother starting.)
- What are the dependencies or prerequisites between the activities or steps? (tell yourself, there are no limits, you can do this, time to start now.)
Step 3: Prioritize and schedule the tasks
- What are the most important or urgent tasks that need to be done first?(What do you want to accomplish)
- What are the best times or days to work on each task?(Morning, afternoon, evening, weekends?)
- How will you balance your workload and avoid overcommitting yourself? (Personally I schedule myself to get all my home chores done on one day. I clean like crazy, do the majority of my laundry and wipe out the biggest part of my house cleaning to give myself time to work on what I really want to work on the rest of the week.”)
- How will you track your progress and adjust your schedule if needed? (Use a checklist, a pre printed one HERE OR just a piece of paper with a list of things on it will do!)
Step 4: Goals that are Simple
- What are the specific, measurable, achievable, simple and time-bound goals that you want to achieve for each task? (You want to accomplish what is on y our mind, and you are trying to prioritize a time frame to do just that.)
- What are the checkpoints that will indicate that you have completed a task or phase of the project? (How much time each week can you devote to accomplishing this project?)
- How will you measure your performance and evaluate your results against your goals and milestones? (I use a simple checklist – HERE
Step 5: Plan for potential risks and challenges
- What are the possible obstacles or difficulties that might arise during the project? (Distractions!)
- How likely and how severe are these risks or challenges? (Can you solve them and plan ahead of time so they won’t derail your plan?)
- How will you prevent or mitigate these risks or challenges? (I planned to do my biggest work at the beginning of the week reeing up time for myself during the week)
- How will you cope with any unexpected changes or issues that might occur? (Make notes where you are, what you have been working on, where you had to stop and where you need to pick back up.)
- Free Notes Printable – click on Notes image below to save to your computer or device.
Step 6: Communicate and collaborate effectively with your team
- If you are working with your family, or team, how will you communicat throughout the project?
- What are the best tools or platforms to use for communication and collaboration? (Computer programs, Canva, Google docs, Adobe, social media platforms, writing apps, etc.)
- How often and how much will you communicate with your team members?
- How will you resolve any challenges that might arise within your team? (Is there a suitable time, rather than just a quick text or email?)
Step 7: Delegate and outsource tasks when necessary
- What are the tasks that you can delegate or outsource to others who have more expertise, experience, or availability than you? (Can you ask for a favor, do you need to pay, can you trade skill based activities?)
- How will you select and assign these tasks to the right people?
- How will you monitor and follow up on these tasks to ensure quality and timeliness?
- How will you provide feedback and appreciation to those who help you with these tasks?
Step 8: Use productivity tools and techniques to optimize your workflow
I did a quick search and found some outside task based tools that can help with productivity. These are not comprehensive but helpful.
- What are the productivity tools and techniques that can help you plan, organize, execute, and review your tasks more efficiently and effectively?
- Some examples of productivity tools and techniques are:
- ClickUp1: A cloud-based project management software that helps you manage your tasks, goals, time, documents, and more in one place.
- Pomodoro Technique2: A time management method that breaks down your work into 25-minute intervals separated by short breaks.
- Eisenhower Matrix3: A decision-making tool that helps you prioritize your tasks based on their importance and urgency.
- SMART Criteria4: A goal-setting framework that helps you define clear and realistic goals.
Step 9: Review your performance and results regularly
- How will you review your performance and results at regular intervals throughout the project? (I use a simple checklist system.)
- What are the key performance indicators that you will use to measure where you are in your productivity process?
- How will you track your findings? (I use a daily planner to write in where I have come so far, and where I finished that day. I also jot a couple notes to prompt me where to start the next day.)
- How will you identify your strengths and weaknesses, as well as areas for improvement?
Step 10: Celebrate your achievements and learn from your mistakes
- How will you celebrate your achievements and reward yourself for completing the project successfully?
The most important reason why to use these tols is to help yourself accomplish what you are needing to accomplish.
I am writing now for my job, and I need to complete other projects that assist me in writing. I have found that the day doesn’t just flow on its own. I have to navigate the day or I won’t get to my destination. I may float along, but I really don’t accomplish anything and days just seem to rush by.
Here are more articles to assist You in accomplishing more and having better days every day! See them HERE
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I’d love to hear from you what your big project is that you want to work on and accomplish!
Debbie (Mills) Booth