Hands up if you have ever hosted a social event–having friends over for dinner, for example. Sure, many of us have been there–we start by giving thought to what type of dinner it will be (casual? formal?) and what will make it successful. Then, we plan things like: what to serve; who we will enlist to help before and during and after the party; what time we would like to sit down to dinner (and boot people out afterward); and often a budget we would like to stay within. Truth is, we all have, to some degree, an “inner PM” we tap into when planning to get things done–dinner parties, vacations, home renovations, baking pies, you name it–to our liking within a time-frame and budget.
That said, getting from “I’ve got an idea” to “Here’s how I will make it happen” is not always easy. Use this checklist to help you unlock your inner PM:
1. What am I trying to achieve–what’s my ultimate goal; and how will I know when I have achieved it?
2. What stuff–tools/materials/equipment/ingredients, etc.–will I need?
3. What are the key steps that will need to be taken to accomplish my goal (think to-do list)?
4. What work will need to be done to complete each step?
5. Will I be doing all the work myself? If so, how much of my time will I need to spend on the work to complete each step?
6. If others others helping, how much time will they need?
7a. Do the steps/work need to be completed in a particular order? Maybe some need to be complete before others can begin; then again, maybe some can be done in parallel to others?
7b. How long will each step take? Estimate how long the work to complete each step will take, and write them into a calendar or daily planner to see the timing for everything that needs to get done to get you to the finish line.
8. How much will it cost me for all the stuff identified in step 2 above?
9. How much will it cost me for the work I will be doing? Think, “If I were billing for this work, how much would I charge based on my hourly rate?” Multiply this by the number of hours of work you will need (7b above) to do to complete each step.
10. Similarly, how much will I need to pay others for the work they will be doing?
Answering these questions gives you the information you need to plan for success because it forces you think about what you want to accomplish, how you will get there, how long it will take and how much it will cost.
Project or Hobby?
Of course, there are some endeavors we undertake for which we don’t care what, when or how much. These are hobbies; and, while we could manage them as a project, doing so is not advisable since there is no better way to suck the joy out of a frivolous endeavor than to plan and track it. Hobbies are about the journey, not the destination; and what we actually accomplish doesn’t matter any more than the time or money we invest into them. Conjure your
inner PM for projects; stifle it for hobbies.