The first step in project management is to define your desired end result or outcome. This is the end result toward which you direct time, energy, and resources. If you are receiving a project from someone else, be sure to ask a lot of questions to be sure exactly what their expectations are. Now write it down. If you are giving a project to someone else, be sure to be specific as to what your expectations are!
Here are the two enemies that prevent us from doing the right thing:
Enemy #1: Working on everything but your project:
Today we are so focused on putting out the fires that progress toward finishing our projects on time is very slow or nonexistent. If your activity doesn’t contribute directly toward completing a project, you may be wasting your time. Remember: putting out fires just helps maintain the status quo. If you solve the cause of the fire and fix it, that’s something that improves the company and will get you noticed.
You must put your project plan into your calendar first, because these projects are the highest priority. Otherwise, your daily, weekly, and monthly plans won’t be as effective as they could be.
Enemy #2: Procrastination:
Because projects are often very large with long time frames for accomplishing them, we often procrastinate before starting them. Your next tip will help you overcome this enemy every time.
Have a clear vision of what is expected of you:
Make sure you know exactly what the desired end result of your projects needs to be. It’s faster to ask questions and be 100 percent right than to start with little or no information and have to do it all over again. This will also allow you to prioritize your work more accurately.
As you look at your desired end result, write down whatever pops into your head in no particular order. Some questions to consider are:
- Who are you going to need to help you? Are they available?
- What information do you need and who has it?
- What could go wrong and how are you going to overcome it? (What has gone wrong in the past?)
- What are my ideas about this project?
By brainstorming you are breaking your project down into manageable steps. This will cut down on the chances you will procrastinate working on your project.
The mind is a great organizer. When it can see everything you need to do, it will group them together and set up batching to speed its completion. There is a direct correlation between how much you write down and the probability of completing your project on time. And because we’re visual, seeing your words makes your commitment more obvious.
Write down a start and completion date: Writing down a specific start and completion date will increase your focus and the likelihood of completing your project on time. If you don’t get one when you are given the project, ask for one.
If you are the one assigning the project, make sure you tell your direct report or reports exactly when you expect the project to be completed. This will help them prioritize your request and eliminate confusion.
“You’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”