Over the past few weeks, I have been walking you through creating a planning journal like mine. If you have missed the previous blog posts, you can view them over here:
- Authentically Ash’s All-in-One To-Do List system
- Creating the All-In-One planning journal (Step 1)
- Creating the All-In-One planning journal (Step 2)
- Creating the All-In-One planning journal (Step 3)
This week I am going to look at the “Active Projects” tab of the planning journal and discuss the project creating process.
A project is anything that will require more than one step to complete, or is an ongoing activity. I always use planning a birthday party as an example of something that will take more than one action to complete, and an example of an ongoing activity is Housekeeping (cooking, cleaning etc.)
Whenever you find something on your To-Do list that will be a repeat activity, or requires further planning with multiple steps, then it is time to start a project.
The first thing to think about when starting a project is: “Why am I doing this?” In the birthday party example, the answer to that question could be “I love my son and I want to make his 5th birthday one to remember.” With the Housekeeping example your purpose could be “To have a clean and inviting home that provides myself and my family with a place of rest after a long day.”
If you did last week’s exercise, you should have already identified your projects, and you should have a page for each project behind the “Active Projects” tab in your planning journal.
I want you to write “Purpose” under the project title and decide why you are wanting to do this project. Write it down.
At this point you get to dream a little. If there was no chance of failure, what do you have in mind as a “Wild Success” for this project? For the birthday party example, you could say “That my son has fun and feels special on his birthday.” And with the Housekeeping example, a wild success could be “That my home is always 5 minutes away from being visitor ready, that my family love being at home and that my home is a restful and relaxing place.” On a more practical side, I once asked my husband and his band members what they saw as a wild success for the band their responses were “To be able to make music full-time. To release an album. To impact others through music. To do an international tour.”
Now I want you to write “Wild Success” down on the page and state what you would see as a “Wild Success” for the project.
This is the basis of your objectives (or goals) for the project. This is what you are striving to achieve by doing this.
Keeping the “Wild Success” and “Purpose” sections in mind, it is now time to brainstorm. The key question here is “What do I need to do to achieve the wild success?” Write down anything that comes to mind. It doesn’t matter how big or how small it is, just go all out. In the birthday party example, you could write down “Decide on a theme” and then straight after that “Find a catering company to bake the cake”. There is no order here and there are also no limits. You can add in “Get prices on Jumping Castles” even though you know you don’t have the yard space for a jumping castle. You will filter through all your ideas in the next step.
I find that spider diagrams are great for brainstorming. Another suggestion is to write each idea on a separate post-it and stick them all up on a wall. When you get to the organize stage (which is next) then you can sort the post-it’s into groups or order them with ease.
Now that you have generated idea’s, you can order them. What do you need to do first? Which ones are not viable and you are not going to do? Which ones are you going to incubate to reassess later?
In our birthday example, we could order them as follows:
- Discuss birthday party theme with son.
- Write up a guest list
- Create a budget
- Find a catering company
- Plan some party games
- Send out invitations
And so on…
You may notice that there are some gaps missing once you put them in order, for example, you need to create or buy the invitations before you can send them out. Fill in as many gaps as you can as you notice them, and write the ordered list under a heading called “Outline”.
The above list is the general outline that will keep you on track, up next comes the “Next Actions”.
Second to last, we have the “Next Actions” list. I want you to write the following 3 column headings underneath the “Next Actions” heading:
- End Date
Now, write down the very next thing you need to do to get this project going. In our birthday example, the next action would be “Discuss birthday party theme with son”, the context would be @Son and the end date would either be the “Due Date” (if there is one) or leave it blank for now and fill in the date when you completed the action.
Also remember to write the action on your @Son Action List behind the “Action Lists” tab of your planning journal. Or if you MUST talk to him about it tomorrow, then write it into your planner as a “Must do” task for tomorrow.
Look at the rest of the outline. Is there anything else that you can do to move this project along without talking to your son first? You could probably create a budget, so you would write that down as @Notebook “Create Budget”.
The last part of the project document goes under a heading called “Checklists”. This is to keep track of the repeat tasks that are assigned to the project.
In our “Housekeeping” project that I mentioned earlier, you might add “Wash the dishes” as a repeat task that you would try to do every day.
So, under the checklists heading you could write:
- @Kitchen – Wash the dishes
- @Laundry Room – Do a load of laundry
Weekly – Sunday
- @Home – vacuum carpets
and so on…
We will be discussing the checklists section of your planning journal next week. For now, just order the repeat tasks under your projects.
It is wise to use 3 pages for each project, stapled together:
- Cover page – containing the Purpose, Wild Success, Outline
- Next Actions – containing all the next actions for the project
- Checklists – containing the checklist information for the project
This allows you to update the next actions or checklists without have to print out a new cover page each time.
Here is an example project document, it is my “Homemaking” project, as it stands today. Please note that I deleted the page breaks so as to fit it on a single page, and also note that my “Checklist” is not complete, there is more on the second page which I am not sharing in this post as I simply want you to get an idea of what a project document looks like and not be overwhelmed by thinking “I should be doing …. ”
Next week I’ll discuss checklists and the Tickler section. This will be the final part of creating your planning journal.