Planning Projects that Actually Get Done by Danielle Lively
Danielle Lively Neal is a former professor turned entrepreneur who provides brand strategy consulting, career coaching and marketing services for clients.
You are starting a new project and you are SO EXCITED!!! New client, new ideas, new products, new marketing…ALL THE THINGS!!! And then, reality hits. All the things means…ALL the things. As with any new project, regardless of what it is, it’s going to entail planning and checklists and deadlines. Are you the type of person who thinks of this with dread? Or are you a planning or task master queen? Well let me help you plan projects that actually get completed with tips and tricks that help you get the job DONE…and done beautifully as the amazing boss babe you are!
Many of you probably think I am going to start with writing down all the tasks to be completed to start with, but I am not. The best laid plans aren’t going to get completed if you haven’t set up good habits overall. That’s what happens when you have this amazing plan set up and it all seems to fall into the black hole of not getting done. The habits you have set up around you aren’t working.
The number one thing you can do to improve your habits is to have good organization. That can be anything from how you keep your files and client information to have automated systems and workflows created around you and your team. The harder you have to work to find something you need to do your planning, the less likely it is to get done!
Second, learn how to say NO! Let’s say it all together now…NO!!! Put some oomph into that! If you are very specific about your plans and goals then some things may have to go. I am not talking about your non-negotiables, like spending time with family and friends, because you need that for your mental health, but I am talking about that extra Board or fundraiser a friend wants you to be on or plan. If it doesn’t help you get to where you want to go, doesn’t align with your non-negotiables and where you want to put your time, then the answer is no.
Third, and one of my personal favorites, is to GET A LIFE…outside of work that is. These are what I would call setting your non-negotiables. We all have non-work priorities and we need to ensure that they remain PRIORITIES and not the things that fall to the bottom of our to-do list or get neglected. This is critical to your overall mental health and enjoyment of your life. I cannot stress how important sticking to this habit is because you are able to stay more focused and on task during the times you have set aside for that when you know you have your “fun” time to look forward to. You are also just generally a happier person because of it!
And lastly, for the habits anyway, is follow through! That is obviously the topmost key in getting stuff done, but beyond that, make sure you set your environment up to support that. For example, make sure your office or work area is free of clutter and distractions. Yes, I realize for the busy mom who is homeschooling their kids this may be easier said than done. But try to create that “zen” work area as much as possible and, depending on the age of your children of course, set boundaries as to when mommy needs to be left alone or when there is a certain sign on mommy’s door….gotta do what you gotta do. Personally, when I have clutter on my desk, I seem to procrastinate by needing to clean up my area to clear my mind, at least that is the justification I give myself. In reality, it’s just procrastinating something I don’t want to do.
Now that you have set up some great habits, remember that practice makes perfect and keep practicing them! Now, however, let’s focus on the actual planning stage for your project. Here is where you write down all the big things, all the tasks that have to be completed in order to deliver your final, major deliverables, your product, your service, or the like. Essentially, work backwards, start with what the actual deliverables for your client are and then work backwards towards all that must be done before that task is complete.
Then break it down more, what things need to be done to make those big tasks become complete as part of the larger picture. For example, your deliverable may be an awesome website for a client, but the bigger deliverables would be creating graphics, creating copy, website design, etc. and then the breakdown on those deliverables would be search for stock photos, finding out the brand voice of the company you are working with, having a meeting about the website design they are looking for, things such as that. Break all of those down as much as you can. Then, plan it! Set target dates and create an entire structure of how this project will get done. Plan what dates deliverables will be done by and get them on your planner now. Heck, put them on a focus priority list, like this Focus Planner. Personally, I am a fan of using these glitter highlighters from Zebra to prioritize my big tasks in my dot journals, like this one from Rachel Wilkerson Miller. I mean who can’t use a little sparkle in their life now and then!
Lastly, don’t procrastinate! You have set up your plan, your good habits, now follow through on it! If you are a gal who needs some incentives, don’t just plan deadlines for your tasks…plan rewards for milestones you achieve! Or plan a treat of some kind or some sort of visible reminder of what you have been accomplishing vs. just looking at what you still need to do.
Now that you are feeling all super planning savvy, check out the September Sparkle Hustle Grow box that’s all about the planning and never miss completing a single project again!