How To Tackle Your Next Big Project
Beginning a large project is no easy task even for the most productive people. But no matter how productive you are, you need to maintain a level of organization to be able to meet your goals—and have the ability to gauge your progress.
Along the way, you will find methods that work for you and others that simply don’t. This is normal and even desirable. You need to find the right method for your way of thinking about your projects and training yourself to become a Project Master.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, a good place to start is to create a mind map. Mind mapping is a form of non-linear note-taking that better suits the way that the human brain works. Some of the best things about mind mapping are that making one can help you generate new ideas and solve problems.
The most common approach is to take a single sheet of paper and write the project name in the middle. Necessary tasks can then be added and should branch out from that nucleus. Subtasks should branch from those accordingly. This way, the project gets broken down into parts that are easier to tackle on their own instead of causing feelings of stress and getting overwhelmed.
See this article The Theory Behind Mind Maps for more details and resources on mind-mapping.
To start, you might write “Marketing Plan 2018” in the centre and circle it. Your branches radiating from that might be revolving around newsletters, sales efforts, etc, and the sub-tasks might be a list of the things that need doing under that category.
These branches can be colour coded by project or by person. Using a mind map can help you keep an overall perspective of the project. For this reason, it might be a good idea to keep it in view and share it with team members.
Not only would the sharing of this mind map be beneficial to your team members from an engagement perspective, it opens the door for things to be added and therefore turns the practice into a collaborative effort.
Making this initial effort will also let you set the expectations early, define the scope of the project, and will be a clear indicator if your budget, your staff, and your timeframe are realistic.
The next step might be to set up a vision board. If you are working on a project alone, you might have it on a wall above your desk, on the back of a closet door, or even in a daily planner if you want to be able to carry it around with you.
If you are working in a team then it would be best of the vision board is mounted where everyone is able to see it. On it, you could start by putting your mind map in the middle, add some images, your company logo, and perhaps even a list of the company’s core values. That way your plan is visible for people to refer back to, and will help keep everything together.
Some Other Ways to Help You Get Organized
Agendas and day planners are great because the dates are already written in them and you can busy yourself with setting daily and weekly tasks based on your mind map.
Bullet journals are typically blank or dotted notebooks where you would design your own page layouts and make pages for specific goals, such as 5-year goals, 1-year goals, a money-saving regimen, etc. Bullet journals use a specific set of symbols to guide you in your productivity efforts.
Calendars are a tried-and-tested method, but the downside is that there is not always an abundance of space to write. It might help you plan your deadlines, however. Maybe you will use more than one method to maximize your output.
But if all of these ideas seem great but you’re really a digital person, there are many digital solutions available as well, such as Asana and Trello for project management and Scapple for mind mapping.
It’s a good idea to try a few of these. The digital options usually have free trials so you can see if the tools provided work for you and your team. ■