First off: My friend and amazing librarian J. wrote to me on Facebook asking how I plan larger projects. And in her words she said the first thing she thought of was WWJD? That's right. What would Jacqueline do? Isn't that the best?
Here is her dilemma: "Do you have a favorite way of keeping track of a bigger project that takes several months to complete? I ask you because I think we're a lot alike in that I'm constantly searching for better, more efficient ways to get more stuff done. I use evernote to keep track of certain things and I love it, but it's not a great to-do list for me. I've been planning the summer programs on a legal pad with the first few sheets as to-do lists and subsequent pages as detailed lists for the children, teen and adult programs. But then I have to leave like 12 pages between each list because I need to expand. It's also gotten messy. lots of crossing out and writing between lines. So I guess I need something not bound."
Answer: There are three steps. The first is to use a Project Planner sheet (you can download it FREE here). This is where you list all the tasks in no order, but that need to get done. This is the big scary list of things to do. On it there are areas for who the primary contact is and when each task is due. The truth is that every project is just a list of tasks. I keep these project pages on a clipboard, but they would work in a binder or loose. The key is that some projects may have 10 project planner sheets. That is ok. You can grow it as things come up.
A note about Excel: You can do ALL of this in Excel. I just KNOW that I like paper. I like writing stuff down and crossing it off. I WANT to use an all electronic version of something, but I never do. I always come back to lists on actual paper. But if Excel works for you, it is the same principal.
Then you take that paper that you have on your clipboard and each night you add items that need to be done onto your daily to do list. Remember, I am totally in love with the 3 things to do that day. Get those at the priority and make sure they get done. These are the "if nothing else gets done today, I will feel accomplished and good enough if these three things do get done."
My Beta Project: Next step is bigger and on a trial run for me. I am taking every single thing in my big scary projec lists and scheduling them with times on my calendar. Seriously. I am adding: send out invoices at 11AM on Friday, March 29th. Everything is going on my iCal (if you use Google calendar it will work there). They are all being scheduled like appointments, because really isn't work an appointment for yourself? This is in beta (yep, an aspect of my life is JUST like a software program where I put it in beta mode) and when I have the final results I will post. So far, though, I love it. So, I suggest doing it for one project and seeing where it takes you.
Here it is: Download the Free Project Planner Sheet
Have a question? You can always reach out to me on Facebook! Ask and I respond; I'm wired that way.