4 Steps to manage any project: It’s a cake walk

4 Steps to manage any project: It’s a cake walk

Projects are a part of our everyday lives.  We all have a project to accomplish: home DIY projects, work projects both individually and with teams, and some of us are participants in various projects as a key contributor, an influencer, or even a stakeholder.  We don’t always think of our planning efforts as a ‘project plan’.  And if asked, ‘what is your plan’ I bet you spout off a terse ‘I got this’.  And you probably do.  Probably.

Through the years we learn how to stay on top of things and we tend to develop our own method of tracking our progress.  I’d like to share a few steps to managing almost any type project you find yourself on.

Any project by definition has a planned start and finish date.  Whether you are planning to finally finish organizing the garage to completing the marketing product video to building the next great software solution.  There will be an intentional start and a finish date.  Many of us will construct a mental plan.  We know what we have to do first and various steps along the way.  As a 1E Senior Project Manager, I’m expected to flow through these steps daily.  So let me offer a few pointers to help order your thoughts.  At the end of this post, you will be able to show off your project management skills with ease.  And your peers, family, and friends will wonder how you make your busy life look like a cake walk.

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Step #1. Begin with the end in mind.

Ask yourself, “What do you want to achieve?  What’s the end game”.  You’ll want to be able to clearly articulate the project outcome in the simplest terms.  ‘Be able to walk through the garage and make it to the kitchen door safely, publish the product video by the start of the quarter, release version 2.X’.

Step #2. Identify and remove obstacles (at least minimize the impact)

They say that life gets in the way.  So prepare for those foreseen and unforeseen events.  It helps to take 10 minutes to anticipate distractions from your goal.  If you’re the procrastinating-type, you may look forward to a few distractions.  But if you are intent on seeing this thing through be proactive about planning for the worst case scenario (including your own need to simply stay focused).

Step #3. Establish an inventory of the resources needed and get them lined up.

What tools, information, people, approvals, or even skills are needed to get the project completed?  No man is an island.  So it’s likely that you’ll need some help or support to wrap up your project.  Be sure you understand exactly what that help or support is.  There’s nothing worse than realizing halfway through the grocery shopping list that you need a cart.

Step #4. Order the tasks.  Consider priorities and dependencies.

Tasks or steps in your project will be either consecutive, parallel, or have dependencies; meaning there could be things that can’t be completed until some other step is done (maybe by someone else).  Take my advice.  Create an action list, let it marinate and come back to look at it a few times.  You will almost always modify your action list a few times, even after you start the project.  No concerns there.  It’s almost impossible to know everything upfront.

Once you have visualized the end game, removed obstacles, lined up everything you need and created your task list, the only other ingredient is guts.  Get it done! It’s a cake walk.

LOOK FOR OUR NEXT BLOG.  COMING SOON.  ‘3 Tips to jump start project stalls’

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