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Take a Bite Out of Planning
Q; How do you eat an elephant?
A: One bite at a time.
It is an old saying that still has a current application. No matter how daunting the project you face, there is a way to make steady progress.
Break it into manageable pieces.
That sounds simple, yet we tend to forget the concept when faced with a major assignment. Instead the task can develop into a procrastination issue as you postpone working on it until you have "enough time." Chances are you will not find an appropriate block of hours, and then suddenly the deadline is looming, panic ensues, and stress accumulates.
There are several steps to follow that will ensure you accomplish your goal within a designated period of time.
- Set a concrete goal. Define your purpose. Be specific.
"Increasing sales" is not concrete. Instead determine for what product you want to increase sales and by what percentage.
- What is the final deadline? If one has not been set, you set your own.
Something that is worth aiming for as a specific target needs to have a time frame. Otherwise it falls into that "Someday/Maybe" category. Put it on your calendar if you want it to happen.
- Break the project into sub-tasks. Group those sub-tasks into working blocks.
Start by making a list of every step that needs to occur in order to complete the work. Once you have a master list, group similar items together.
- Determine the progression. Is it sequential or are there parallel activities?
Sometimes one activity hinges on another, and sometimes different blocks can be worked on at the same time. For instance, if you are planning a conference, travel and hotel arrangements would be one block while booking speakers would be another.
- Create deadlines for each of the steps. Build in extra time for delays.
Start with the final due date and work your way backward, noting on your calendar what the deadline is for each activity. Mark your deadline a week or more ahead of the absolute due date to guard against unexpected events.
- Assign the tasks. Delegate what you can. Place the rest in your Daily Action file.
If it is a detailed or complex project, try to assign a full block rather that bits and pieces from several blocks. It helps with accountability and gives the person with the assignment a clearer picture of what is happening.
- Monitor progress. Develop a tracking log to follow up, noting:
- what was designated
- to whom
- due dates
A log sheet can be either paper or electronic. When the job is complex, be sure to meet regularly with those handling the different aspects. You want to be sure everything comes in together and that one person does not halt the progress of the others.
You face long- and short-term projects in both a work environment and home situations. End-of-year holiday preparations are a perfect time for employing these steps. Get your family involved instead of trying to handle everything on your own. It will help you look forward to the fun instead of dreading the extra tasks that steal your holiday spirit.
On Your Own: books and CDs to work at your