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Natural Planning - How do you do it?

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  • Natural Planning - How do you do it?

    Hi guys,

    I just started using GTD and seriously it seems that I am having my life/work under control with no stress Well it's so efficient that it seems that it just a part of me now.

    Well I have been able to tackle all the little projects like "Repair the DVD player", "Clean my closet from the old clothes", etc. Though I am now working on the projects that have been stuck for a while by applying the Natual Planning Method though it's not very clear in my mind.

    Most examples I have seen in the GTD book or on the web deal with simple projects like "Organize a diner" and stuff like that. I am trying to apply that to an e-Business project and it just seems like I need more details, numbers, specific goals into the planning. For exemple, in the purpose section, something like "Get the business back on track" or "Increase the monthly revenues" seem a bit too vague in this case.

    Can somebody share with me some natural planning used for an e-business project or for any busines project to see how you do it?

    Thanks

  • #2
    "Get the business back on track" or "Increase the monthly revenues" are too vague to be projects. I would put them into goals and then create projects to achieve those goals. I agree you should add more concrete values to these goals, such as "have $X sales in first 6 months" or "have X visitors by Q1."

    The natural planning model comes into play for each project when you assign a purpose and a real concrete successful outcome to that project, something that is attainable and that will bring you closer to your goals. You may want to do in-depth brainstorming for these projects and plan out some of the steps in advance. Many of your projects will most likely be brainstorming ones in and of themselves. Others will be more tactical and easily defined, such as regularly measuring the success of your strategy or implementing Paypal as a payment option.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Zoom View Post
      Can somebody share with me some natural planning used for an e-business project or for any busines project to see how you do it?
      Here's one I just finished.

      I sell wool primarily over the internet from our own web site. This last year wool sales have decreased a lot. SO my initial vague project was Increase wool sales.

      Then I looked at the purpose. I decided that I need to increase wool sales because we need the income and that I was not willing to lower my standards for cleanliness of fleeces I sell. That I am in a high end wool market.

      A successful outcome for me is that I do not have any leftover fleeces each year and so never have to run sales on last years wool. IOW success means selling all my wool each calendar year.

      Brainstorming started by issues/ideas etc.
      Rams wool is messy and no spinners want it because of the VM contamination. BWMS wool can be variable in length and coarseness making it unsuited to all purposes. The solid black color is either a benefit or a hindrance depending on what you want to do. You can't dye it but it won't run black dye and sadden other colors. Shipping costs to get it to a wool mill are expensive. Processing is expensive. Other farms can do value added stuff I cannot do or am not doing. Photographing black is hard so my web site pictures look crappy. BWMS wool is durable. Wool is a natural and environmentally friendly fiber. Wool is warm. Wool is fun to work with. Sheep coats to keep the wool clean are expensive to purchase. Wool can make good mulch. Web site is confusing. No one knows about the environmental benefits of buying from us. We need more value added products to get to a range of users. Lamb fleeces are at a premium.

      Then I started organizing and splitting it into smaller doable projects.

      I've got 2 main classes of wool, ewes and rams. I decided that rams wool was unsuited for sale due to VM but is good for mulch. I can't sell it but I found a farmer friend who needs it who is willing to trade my junk wool for vegetables. So I get income (or at least food) from the formerly trash wool.
      The project became Package skirtings and ram wool for X for mulch. Next actions included "Purchase more big plastic trash bags for junk wool" and "call x to come pick up junk wool and get potatoes"

      Another project became "Learn how to photograph black wool effectively." Actions there have included "Join Ravelry Yarnographers and ask for tips." "Practice photographing black fleece in all sorts of light conditions" "Set up a studio and try to photograph yarn" "buy a new camera" Those last 2 actually turned into their own projects.

      Another one was "Improve DW web site shopping experience" Actions there are things like add new pictures of black yarn, write new top level paragraph that promotes our environmentally friendly way of farming

      Other projects included explore more value added options and that resulted in a project to get socks made from our yarn which are now on the web site and being sold. Others included find a mill to make combed tops, which I did and now sell that as well. Another was to promote or quilt batts and I'm starting that one as well.

      Even more were locate and participate in Ravelry forums where buyers will be. And now I participate in Ravelry forums and can directly point to sales as a result.

      I learned to make my own sheep coats, located and found fabric I can buy inexpensively to make them and so on.

      End result is that I've got about 10 active projects related to wool in my manage our farm sustainably area of focus and they are moving forward. A bunch got finished (make socks, buy new camera, find place for junk wool) I'm starting to sell more wool online. The lead time is slow but I am making progress. I still have a lot of web site updates to do but it became clear that I first had to have the products, then the pictures (in process) and finally the web site.

      Does that help?

      Comment


      • #4
        Wow, that's a practical example from paper to application. Do you prioritize any of those projects? How does it look on Omnifocus?

        For a project like that, I almost want to break out the Gantt chart, color schemes for prioritizing tasks, projects, etc. Then I start thinking about task dependencies and what-ifs. How do you avoid that mess?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Mischka View Post
          Do you prioritize any of those projects? How does it look on Omnifocus?

          For a project like that, I almost want to break out the Gantt chart, color schemes for prioritizing tasks, projects, etc. Then I start thinking about task dependencies and what-ifs. How do you avoid that mess?
          I only put them in the order in which there are dependencies. And I figured out most of those during the planning/brainstorming. Some ended up becoming separate projects (get a new camera) that meant everything else that depended on the camera (take pictures learn to photograph black etc.) was on hold. A careful weekly review, esp taking time to read my someday/maybe or on-hold projects caught all the ones that were languishing.

          All are projects in the folder Wool Work which is within the folder Manage our Farm Sustainably which is one of my Areas of Focus.

          I used the ability to create subprojects and changed the serial vs parallel options within Omnifocus as needed to accommodate the dependencies of both projects and tasks. At weekly review time I was able to quickly drag and change the order of things if I needed to.

          Because there really weren't any deadlines no GANTT type stuff was needed. It all was "As soon as I could" and frankly some are not done yet but they are moving forward.

          The initial planning and brainstorming took me a long time because I am slow at it. I had the natural planning model worksheet in front of me and spent maybe 2-3 hours or so doing all the steps. I had to revisit the NPM stuff a couple of times during weekly reviews to get it all down the way I wanted it. I probably should have just added an action item to my lists to do the NPM on whatever problem I was stuck on but I found it easier to just plow through it during a longer than normal weekly review. I sort of thought of it as doing work as it shows up.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
            I only put them in the order in which there are dependencies. And I figured out most of those during the planning/brainstorming. Some ended up becoming separate projects (get a new camera) that meant everything else that depended on the camera (take pictures learn to photograph black etc.) was on hold. A careful weekly review, esp taking time to read my someday/maybe or on-hold projects caught all the ones that were languishing.

            All are projects in the folder Wool Work which is within the folder Manage our Farm Sustainably which is one of my Areas of Focus.

            I used the ability to create subprojects and changed the serial vs parallel options within Omnifocus as needed to accommodate the dependencies of both projects and tasks. At weekly review time I was able to quickly drag and change the order of things if I needed to.

            Because there really weren't any deadlines no GANTT type stuff was needed. It all was "As soon as I could" and frankly some are not done yet but they are moving forward.

            The initial planning and brainstorming took me a long time because I am slow at it. I had the natural planning model worksheet in front of me and spent maybe 2-3 hours or so doing all the steps. I had to revisit the NPM stuff a couple of times during weekly reviews to get it all down the way I wanted it. I probably should have just added an action item to my lists to do the NPM on whatever problem I was stuck on but I found it easier to just plow through it during a longer than normal weekly review. I sort of thought of it as doing work as it shows up.
            the part that gTD does not cover well is working with deadlines. GTD works on getting things done asap.

            Comment


            • #7
              Hard landscape.

              Originally posted by humblepie View Post
              the part that gTD does not cover well is working with deadlines. GTD works on getting things done asap.
              In GTD you've got a calendar for your hard landscape. You can put there your deadlines. You can also use a Tickler File.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by humblepie View Post
                the part that gTD does not cover well is working with deadlines. GTD works on getting things done asap.
                Hey, nothing's preventing you from adding a deadline to a Project, e.g.:
                Build product website (by 4 February)
                If it's an important part of the Project, add it.

                I've also been maintaining an extra sheet of paper, hung in my cubicle, with upcoming deadlines written on it. Works well so far.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                  I only put them in the order in which there are dependencies. And I figured out most of those during the planning/brainstorming. Some ended up becoming separate projects (get a new camera) that meant everything else that depended on the camera (take pictures learn to photograph black etc.) was on hold. A careful weekly review, esp taking time to read my someday/maybe or on-hold projects caught all the ones that were languishing.

                  All are projects in the folder Wool Work which is within the folder Manage our Farm Sustainably which is one of my Areas of Focus.

                  I used the ability to create subprojects and changed the serial vs parallel options within Omnifocus as needed to accommodate the dependencies of both projects and tasks. At weekly review time I was able to quickly drag and change the order of things if I needed to.

                  Because there really weren't any deadlines no GANTT type stuff was needed. It all was "As soon as I could" and frankly some are not done yet but they are moving forward.

                  The initial planning and brainstorming took me a long time because I am slow at it. I had the natural planning model worksheet in front of me and spent maybe 2-3 hours or so doing all the steps. I had to revisit the NPM stuff a couple of times during weekly reviews to get it all down the way I wanted it. I probably should have just added an action item to my lists to do the NPM on whatever problem I was stuck on but I found it easier to just plow through it during a longer than normal weekly review. I sort of thought of it as doing work as it shows up.
                  Wow, thank you for the detailed description Oogiem! Also, what is this "natural planning model worksheet" you speak of?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by humblepie View Post
                    the part that gTD does not cover well is working with deadlines. GTD works on getting things done asap.
                    Well actually it does work for deadlines. Just need to use the calendar or tickler file for that. I just decided that for this batch of projects there were no real deadlines, only that I wanted to get it done as soon as I could.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mischka View Post
                      what is this "natural planning model worksheet" you speak of?
                      It's one of the worksheets you can download from Connect. I'm not sure exactly where it is, but it's a PDF file. Called Natural Planning Model. I found it using search but I think you have to be a connect member to get to it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks Oogiem, I found it.

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