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  • I had sort of a small success in project planning today

    I completed a task yesterday and forwarded it to someone for review and approval. They want a week which is reasonable since they have to review it with several people with different work schedules.

    So if I was operating as I often do, right up against the deadline, I would be hurting. But since I had extended the project deadline from an arbitrary date to a realistic one, now it is no sweat.

    For me it is a very fine line between needing the pressure of a deadline and having time to work. Not an easy thing at all to balance since I appear to need the stress to function, yet too much stress just panics me and locks me up. So I think one logical conclusion is that I need to apply internal stress to myself to set internal task deadlines like I did in this example.

    This is helping a lot to break down my barriers to good project planning, always a difficult thing for me and I suspect many other people as well.

    So what tricks do you have for project planning? I'm sure there are some good ones out there that would be good for sharing here.

  • #2
    Yay for small successes, I say.

    RE project planning, if its a semi-formal or formal project, working backwards and giving yourself some projected deadlines is an oldie but goodie. So if you want a report completed by the end of week 8, you might think that

    End of week 7 - complete but for small amendments
    End of week 5 - end of first draft
    End of week 3 - finish brainstorming outline of report
    End of week 1 - collate key information

    Reverse this and you get an outline plan. Obviously these aren't hard deadlines, but they can be helpful when you're doing a weekly review to see where you are against them.

    Another trick I like to do when working with other people, is making these soft deadlines harder by setting a meeting half way through the timescale. People often rush to get things done for the meeting, where they would otherwise wait and then rush to get things done by the last day.

    A nice trick that was new to me until recently when we did some work with a consultant was to reverse your brainstorm and think of everything that could go wrong. So for the report it could be

    Final email didn't send
    Printer didn't work
    Information for report was out of date
    Staff that had the information on holiday for three weeks
    Used wrong template
    Postal strike
    Staff ill and no time to bring anyone else up to speed
    Computer failed with no backup
    Got wrong date for final submission

    and so on. For each of these you can then think of something that could mitigate the risk. This is more useful for larger projects, you wouldn't bother most of the time, but I think the idea is pretty neat.

    Comment


    • #3
      Excellent points, bishblaize!

      Originally posted by bishblaize View Post
      Final email didn't send
      Printer didn't work
      Information for report was out of date
      Staff that had the information on holiday for three weeks
      Used wrong template
      Postal strike
      Staff ill and no time to bring anyone else up to speed
      Computer failed with no backup
      Got wrong date for final submission

      and so on. For each of these you can then think of something that could mitigate the risk. This is more useful for larger projects, you wouldn't bother most of the time, but I think the idea is pretty neat.
      Those are excellent points for us deadline-crowding procrastinators! Just before my meeting on the subject I posted, the darn Excel file for some reason got bollixed up and printed really small. And PowerPoint has caused me untold last minute grief. Yes, building slack time into schedules is is good! The hard part is convincing a micromanaging boss of that.

      Comment


      • #4
        I love success stories

        I just make sure to always to a very thorough Planning and mind map. Then I do a mind sweep while organizing the project support matirials. Then relative to my experience with the project I set up little marker dead lines. Not really dead line but checkpoints that say "by this time you should be about here." this way I know where I am in relation to the finished project, but I'm not stressed about it, unless I get way off course. Or I get behind a couple of those markers. They're not dead lines because you can miss them with no real consequences.

        But I could never do this kind of "path marking" with out proper project planning.

        Congrats!

        Comment


        • #5
          Yes, for me planning has always been very difficult since projects always looked like impenetrable amorphous blobs. You have to really work to break them down into smaller properly sequenced steps. Luckily it seems like something you can learn. It always seemed like some people were just born planners and some (like me) were not, but now I think I am starting to penetrate the thicket. But I do still have a long way to go.

          And what makes it really difficult for me is simultaneous scheduling with allowances for new work cropping up. I really like the thought from the book that you don't do projects, you do steps of a project.

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