Plan Your Project Time

The other day I received a massage and I was struck by how efficiently the therapist used the allotted time.  It got me thinking about how it could be applied to my work.

The process she followed was:

  1. Assess what needs to be done
  2. Start the work using a specific plan of how to complete it
  3. Within the plan there was flexibility to spend more time on problem areas
  4. Wrap up the time with a review of what was accomplished

This process can be used anytime you start working on a more complex task or project.

Assess the Work:

Before jumping in spend a few minutes reviewing what you want to accomplish during the timeframe you have allocated.  Make sure you have the materials you need readily accessible.

Plan Your Attack:

Know where you are going to start and then have an idea of the flow of the work.  If you are doing the same type of things on a regular basis having a set plan for how you will accomplish the tasks will allow you to get into the flow more quickly and you will be more efficient.  It’s important to have a clear starting and ending point with the steps between mapped out.  It doesn’t have to be a detailed, written out plan that is followed exactly every time.  Just understanding what needs to be done and in what order is enough to keep you moving.

Plan for Flexibility:

Your plan needs to be flexible enough to allow you to spend extra time on one step or another if needed.  Even routine actions are rarely identical every time so make sure you are able to adjust the time and effort as needed to get the work completed properly.  Hurrying through a problem because you have only allowed 15 minutes and this time you need 25 minutes will lead to errors and rework.  This is much less efficient than taking the extra 10 minutes up front and adjusting the time of a later step.

Wrap-Up and Review:

In your plan allow for a few minutes to wrap-up the project.  This includes cleaning up materials as well as noting where you are stopping if this project will continue another day.  Even when you are completely done a quick review will let you look at what went well and what went poorly so you can adjust you plan the next time.

Creating a systematic approach to larger tasks/projects will help you get into the work more quickly and move through it more efficiently.  Typically I am good about the first three steps I outlined above and I realize the last one will actually help me get more out of my time if I do it consistently.

What tips do you have for planning your work on a project?

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