So, as promised, I am back with an easy-to-use tool to plan ahead for 2010 (downloadable link below).
What does it do?
It helps you keep all your projects and deliverables in check.
Helps you see your months/weeks when you will be most loaded, so you can plan ahead.
What does it not do?
You need to do the tracking and completion yourself. Preferrably weekly.
You need to add other projects that might pop up.
So, how does it work?
1. You input all your BIG projects in the left hand column. You should have around 5 big projects that will determine whether this year you performed well or insuficiently in your job. If you have less, lucky you! If you have more, try to prioritize them and group them under larger umbrellas.
If you’re not clear which these 5 projects or deliverables are, I suggest you go talk to your boss
Try to spread these projects through the year. It’s no use cramming up the second quarter, if you’re going to do nothing over summer. For the “low” periods, put in those projects which deal with “improving”, “strategy” or “development”.
2. Split these projects in easy-to-define tasks. Such as “Do project plan”, “Have first meeting”, “launch project” or “summarize results and present to the board”. Make sure you’re clear on the delivery date for each “Big” project, and/or how it’s going to be measured. For example, you may have a Big project that will be delivered in Jan, but the results aren’t going to come until March. Maybe there’s some extra action that you need to take between Jan and March.
You don’t need to put all possible actions in this excel file – just the area of interest you will focus on. It might be “planning”, “meetings”, “selling” or “reporting”. I put “design strategy” and “communicate strategy” as two separate chunks in my planner, but I didn’t go into all the details.
Make sure you input your vacation (even estimated time is ok) and personal projects that are nailed to the wall. I plan to run a 10K marathon in October, which means latest in July I have to start training strongly for it. Even if I plan to run weekly even before July, there’s no need to put this there. It will become a big focus area only in July.
3. Now comes the fun part. Each week, go to the designated column and print it out. Put it in your agenda, nail it to your office wall or paste it somewhere you can see it. Even just reviewing it on Monday mornings is enough.
Let’s see, week 8-14 of Feb, what’s there to be done?
Well, there’s Project X update, ah, and also the monthly recurring task.
Now you’re clear what your priorities for this week are.
4. After each week, or at least monthly, look back at what you managed to do. In my example way above, I greened out the completed projects, and reddened the ones that have not been completed and I’ve no clue when they will be done. Probably end Jan. But I have them there, stinging my eye :).
The downloadable link is just below.
Kudos to my colleague Luiza who invented this tool, and is one of the most organized people I know.