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Blog: Can We Have Some Order Here?
Project Management Made Easy

Managing a project is a lot like taking a journey. You have some idea of where you want to go, but you're unsure what steps will get you there, or what to expect along the way. It's easy to get overwhelmed -- but project management is actually quite easy, when you have the right plan…

Getting Started

They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step -- and the same is true of your project. You have to start somewhere. Maybe your first step will be working out a schedule or drawing up a list of tasks. Or you might want to have a meeting to brainstorm with your team. Don't spend too much time worrying about exactly which step to take first -- any move forward is a good one. You may feel stuck at the beginning of your project, but just getting started often provides the momentum you need to keep you moving in the right direction. Of course, the first thing you need for any journey is a road map. So start by examining the project and asking a few simple questions:

- What are my goals? What result am I trying to accomplish?
- What is my deadline?
- Who will I need to include in this project?
- What supplies/resources will I need to get this done?

This is a grounding exercise -- designed to help you get a basic idea of what this project will require of you. You will then find it a lot easier to break these "big picture" ideas into actionable steps.

Your Itinerary

Most long journeys actually involve a series of smaller trips, stopping to see this site or visit this town along the way. The same is true for your project's journey. Every project, no matter how large, is just a series of smaller tasks – and your job is simply to figure out what those tasks are. For example, if you are putting together your company's annual budget, the steps might include items like creating a chart of accounts, gathering financial data from each department, listing big expenditures for the next year, calculating cost projections, and compiling the report. Each one of these steps constitutes a "milestone," and each milestone helps get you a little closer to your end goal.

While you never want to lose sight of your final destination, your project will be a lot less overwhelming if you simply focus on your next milestone (bit sized is always easier to swallow!) Once you accomplish that task, move to the next -- in no time, you will find that you have systematically worked your way to the end of the project. And if a particular step still seems too big, break it down even further. Get to the cellular level, if that's what works for you.

On any journey, you also have some idea of how long you plan to spend in each location and when you will need to arrive at your next destination. The same is true of your project -- but instead of scheduling from your departure date forward, you will schedule from your arrival (or deadline) date backward. Ask yourself when each previous step must be completed for the next step to happen on time -- as well as how long each step will realistically take to complete, and plug each of those mini-deadlines into your calendar. If your deadline for the budget is 11/1, you might need the cost projections by 10/20 so you have time to write the report. You must have the list of expenditures and financial data by 10/13 to give you time to calculate cost projections, so plan to finalize your chart of accounts by 10/7. By setting smaller milestones along the way, you can see progress toward your goal, know that you are on track to complete the project in time, and remove some of the pressure of "the deadline."

Coordinating Your Trip

Just as you would have a place to keep your travel paperwork when preparing for a trip, you need a system for storing all of your project files in one location so you never have to waste time searching. And like travel paperwork, project files are temporary -- they will only be used until the project is completed. So assign a separate drawer or hanging file box for your project paperwork. And of course, the best possible project organizing system is portable -- so you can take them with you wherever you go on your journey. You may also need storage for larger project tools -- when remodeling the kitchen, you might have a tub with flooring samples, wallpaper swatches, paint brushes, and cabinet hardware. Give yourself as much room as you need.

If your project involves other people, it's also important to have a system for keeping everyone on track. Create a log of tasks for which each person is responsible -- with milestones and deadlines for each. And be sure to schedule regular team meetings so you have time for brainstorming, group problem-solving, and following up with each member to make sure he or she hasn't hit a roadblock along the way.

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posted on: 8/25/2011 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips

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Discuss This Post

by iphone 5 on 9/12/2011 6:56:37 PM:

Greetings! Extremely useful guidance on this informative article! It really is the tiny alterations that make the largest modifications. Many thanks a great deal for sharing!

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Can We Have Some Order Here?

by Ramona Creel

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About Ramona:

I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!

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