Step by step I follow my goal. Planning of personal goals, projects, tasks.
I n this article, I want to share the experience of achieving personal goals, project planning and the sequence of forming up the tasks. Also, I will consider what projects are, their optimal duration and number of tasks. I have been working in the IT industry for a long time and have used many methodologies and practices thus in some tips you will notice similarities with common solutions.
Any goal, project or task starts with planning. Good planning reduces execution time because in the process of work we do not waste time for thinking. Also, the better the preparation is done, the fewer mistakes and better the result will be. At the end of the work, it is necessary to analyze the results, understand what has been done well, what can be improved and take this information into account when planning the next steps.
I start planning in the following sequence – Goal, Project, Tasks. There is a significant difference between the goal, the project, and the task. The goal responds to the question: «what do you want?», the project responds to the question – «how can I make it?», and the task responds to the question – «what should be done?». The goal is the final desired result, so it comes first. We still do not know how we will do, we just have a desire to achieve something. A project is a temporary enterprise aimed at creating a unique product, service or result. At this stage, we already know what we will do and how, and we can make a draft estimate of costs and time. I divide projects into small, medium and large. Depending on this, I use different approaches for planning. Small projects (up to 2 weeks) I can plan completely. For such projects, I don’t always set a goal, it’s clear what to do and what I want to achieve. Small projects do not require lengthy preparation and usually, they are not very costly. I pay more attention to Medium-sized projects (from 2 weeks to 2 months). It requires preparation, analysis of time and financial opportunities. I can not always plan such a project entirely, and therefore I create goals. Such a project can be divided into several small ones and fulfilled separately. Some tasks in such a project can be delegated to others which speed up its implementation. Large projects (more than 2 months) is a set of medium. In such projects, I definitely highlight the goal. I also create a separate project for planning and preparation. I analyze financial, temporary opportunities and select contacts for delegation of a part of tasks.
To summarize up, large projects can be divided into the medium, medium into small. One thing you should learn is that you should properly split projects depending on their size and carry out small ones. Next, I will show an example of 3 of my projects: small, medium and large...
Small ordinary project (up to 2 weeks)
Shelf for shoes. This project is pretty simple. I already had such a shelf and I needed to make a copy of it in the new sizes. I calculated the work on the project will take 2 days. The project consisted of 6 tasks:
- - make measurements and calculate materials;
- - buy materials (list: what and how much);
- - cut slats by size;
- - grind the slats;
- - apply varnish;
- - collect the shelf.
Someone may say that just one task is enough, namely to make a shelf. I recommend splitting up tasks in more detail ones (ranging from 1 to 8 hours). It does not take much time, but a more detailed plan speeds up the execution and increases motivation, as you see what you have done and how much is left.
For this project, I did not create a goal and did not plan a budget; everything is simple and clear here and spending is not big. I also had all the necessary tools. I knew what, how and when to do it. It was made quickly, efficiently and on time.
For 2 weeks I can plan the work more accurately, I understand that when I can do it, and if I see that I don’t have time, then I consider that this project is in «medium» category...
Medium project (from 2 weeks to 2 months)
Woodshed. I have a long-term goal: «Build a summer house.» Before starting construction, I set a short-term goal (2 months): «Prepare a plot for the construction of a summer house». On the plot under a shed, there was firewood and it was decided to make a woodshed for them. I broke this task into several small simple projects:
- - planning (pick up woodsheds, choose a place, take measurements and calculate materials);
- - prepare the site (cleaned and bricking up the base);
- - make the woodshed;
- - install a woodshed, move and fold firewood.
I devoted one week for planning and executed it at first. I picked up a convenient place, reviewed many different options (pinterest helped a lot), made measurements and calculated materials. After planning, I knew what, how and where I wanted to do and could do the rest of the parts. 2nd and 3rd part could be done in parallel. Therefore, I decided to delegate the preparation of the site (I have useful contacts), and I myself was engaged in building a woodshed. It took 2 weeks (mostly weekends) to create such a woodshed. I spent another 2 days on installation, moving and folding firewood. A total of 25 tasks were done.
So, medium-sized projects basically begin with preparation and planning. In such projects, there may be parts that can be done in parallel and delegated. The ability to delegate part of the work is very important, it speeds up the execution, improves the quality and motivation (I don’t like to work with concrete). The budget of this project is also not very big, but after planning I made an approximate calculation taking into account the materials and delegation of one of the tasks. Having the project, I did not make a separate goal, it was carried out for the purpose: «Prepare a plot for the construction of a summer house». To achieve this goal, besides this project, there were several more. The goal was calculated for the estimation of 2 months, I reached it and was ready to start working on a large project, I think you guessed what kind of project it was ... :)
Large project (more than 2 months)
Big projects always start with a goal. I set myself a goal for the year: «To build a summer house». This is a long-term big goal. I didn’t know what house, material, size, number of floors, budget and I needed to study a lot of things, so I created an average monthly project: «Planning (study summer houses, decide on basic materials, select a construction company, calculate an approximate budget)». After doing this part, I was able to calculate the budget and I realized that those materials and that kind of house I wanted to have could not be done in a year, two years is a correct period of time. Yes, here I was wrong and had to change goals. I moved the main goal for the year. For the 1st year, I planned to do all the external work (walls, roof, communications). For the 2nd year - all internal works, doors, and terraces.
I created a goal for the 1st year: «Make the foundation of a summer house (walls, roof, communications)» and broke all the work into medium projects:
- - prepare a summer house project;
- - conduct communication lines (sewage, water, electricity);
- - prepare the foundation (main, columns);
- - bring and fold materials;
- - to build walls (with external grinding and painting);
- - make the roof (filing, painting, insulation, drains);
- - prepare a house for the winter (put the windows, temporarily close the openings).
After dividing into medium-sized projects, it was necessary to decide who and when would do each of the parts. I found a company that did the main work (the project, the walls, and the roof). But I delegated some of the work to other people (the foundation, part of the communication), some I did (part of the communication lines). Of course, it is more convenient to order one company for all works, but I had contacts of people who could do some of the work and it turned out much cheaper. Also, I wanted to do some tasks myself.
The project was ready within 2 weeks. According to the project, there were made the foundation and communication lines. Then they brought the main materials (wood), brought it, folded and covered against rain. I ordered the materials for the roof myself. It took about a month to build walls and roofs.
It took 3 months (summer) to achieve the goal of «Making the foundation of a summer house (walls, roof, communications)» and 124 tasks were done. In the course of the work, I divided all medium projects into small ones and create tasks for them. Everything went fine and the 1st goal was achieved. There were, of course, problematic issues, for example, when importing material, a car (very high) could not drive to the place of unloading, a tree branch interfered near the road, but everything was resolved (the tree did not suffer :)).
Last year I completed the 1st part, this year I plan to make the 2nd and complete the goal that I set myself: «To build a summer house». I have already broken the 2nd part into medium projects and some started to do, such as the selection of materials and equipment for interior decoration, stove, plumbing, etc. I plan to prepare everything before the summer, and in the summer period to complete all the work.
So, large projects necessarily begin with preparation and planning. In such projects, it is very convenient to use a long-term goal and a short-term one. After planning, you need to evaluate the budget and contacts (who and what can do). Large projects need to be divided into the medium, medium into small. It is necessary to determine the connection between projects, which can be done in parallel, which sequentially. Tasks should be planned for 1-2 weeks since for such a period it is possible to determine exactly who, what and how will do it.
Five years ago I did the project «Autonomous irrigation system» on my site. I didn’t spend much time planning, and although the project was completed, I made some mistakes: I had a lot of extra material left, I had to redo one line. After that, I began to pay more attention to planning and developed an approach that gives good results. I do not spend a lot of time on this and do not plan all the work in advance. If the project is large, then I break it into medium ones, make preliminary estimates, build a sequence of execution, study the subject area, and when I am ready to begin execution, I break down the averages into small ones, but only those over which I am ready to start work. Small projects I fill with tasks for performance. Also, I have accumulated a lot of «useful contacts», and when some tasks arise, I know in advance who to delegate them to. After the implementation of the project, I look at the result, analyze, think through whether everything has been done well and what can be improved. After completing several projects with this approach, a personalized process is developed which is convenient for you.
Goals are achieved by a series of successive tasks. The better the work is planned, the fewer mistakes will be made, the fewer effort and money will be spent. The better the work is planned, the better the result will be. Look at the main picture in the article and think: who are you, the person on the left or the right? Spend time planning and you will achieve what you have in mind!
Efficient work. In search of the ideal process.
The IT industry I work in offers plenty of methodologies and solutions facilitating productivity. Agile, Waterfall, RUP and many others are aimed at initiating teamwork and minimizing the risks. The products like TFS, Jira and others aid in the technical arrangement of human interaction processes in the teams and successful work on the project or standalone tasks...
Dream, plan, act.
Look around, most of what surrounds us were once someone's dreams. They went through the phase of dreams, and then they were planned and realized. Something was done by a big teamwork; something was done by one person. "Oh, what is that on the shelf? ... Yes, yes, on a top of the shelf." This model is a boat I wanted to do when I was 16, oh, how much time and effort it took, but it was still one of those dreams that came true...