You must have heard the saying “people who fail to plan, plan to fail” – as a past Team Leader, and Project Manager in IT this has been one of the most important aspects of any project that I’ve been on.
Whether you used MS Project, or even a list of tasks that need to be performed if the tasks were not documented the project was doomed to failure or atleast you’d be working double-time to ensure everything was on track.
Put the tasks onto simple lists and share that with the team, and you only had to follow-up with the people on the team. Everyone knew what they had to do, and when they had to have it done by. Everyone on the plan was held accountable for their part of the project.
If someone didn’t come through, it usually impacted everyone downstream and could potentially impact delivery dates and other projects and Project Managers that were sharing the resources.
I’m not here to teach you about Project Management, there are plenty of good books out there and many great organizations that can do a much better job that I can.
But I am here to tell you that you are guaranteed to fail, if you don’t plan.
This is a fact. Argue all you want, if you don’t have a plan where are you going?
When I started this site, I had a plan. I planned to post daily, sometimes 2x or even 3x per day. I planned to work on my first information product — it’s in progress and nearing completion. I planned to complete this within 3 months, I’m on track and in fact will be ahead of the plan.
I’ve got several great tips on planning that I will share with you over the next few days / posts. I hope that you will put these tips to good use.
But I won’t leave you high and dry waiting for the first post!
So you’re planning for something. Perhaps it’s your first product, or your website/blog. Regardless you want to plan.
What needs to be done to get to the end? Lets look at something simple, such as your website/blog:
- Need a domain name.
- Register the domain name.
- Purchase a hosting account.
- Point the domain to the the new hosting account.
- Set-up the blog on the hosting account.
Now you probably won’t write this out — but this will get you thinking about planning and creating lists.
So we’ve created a list of things that need to be done. The list should contain everything that comes to mind — write it all down! At this point DO NOT edit or stop to think about anything — just keep building this list.
…hey, does this sound familiar? In fact, many writers (and non-writers) do this when developing ideas for articles (hint, hint, hint… future topic coming up!)…
Now prioritize the list according to importants. The easiest way is to categorize each item into three major sections:
- (A) Crucial must do this – this is an important and urgent task
- (B) Important – but secondary, there are more important things to get done
- (C) Not important, or urgent
As you go through your list, look at each of the tasks and ask yourself if the task is important or not. What would happen if you dropped it entirely from your list? If you can tolerate the answer then drop the task — or at least mark it as C for now.
Many times your instincts will tell you what is very important, and not as important. Listen to that inner voice, it is seldom wrong.
Items that you mark as A must get done and should take top priority, no matter what. The B’s are next followed by C’s. C’s may even be determined to be tasks that you don’t need to spend any time on (perhaps these are things that could be outsourced???).
By preparing a list you give yourself little time to wander aimlessly. You know exactly what needs to get done and you can knock off tasks in rapid succession!
Now that you have your list, chances are you will have multiple important items so it might be tough to do all of them at once. Probably you won’t be able to.
I hate to say it, but even with your A tasks you’ll need to prioritize the list. Not everything needs to be done right now. Perhaps one of the items on the list can only be completed once the previous one has been completed.
I have got some more great tips for you in the planning area, and hope that you will follow along.