The Secret to Getting More Done

Michael’s excellent project management post got me thinking about projects I have worked on that have gone well and others that were, um, less than fantastic. The core differences I think are things that many bloggers overlook in their own projects. Take a look at these factors and see if you agree:

  • Priorities – Many bloggers I see fuss over the design, or think all they need is one front page Digg story, etc. In fact, like any recipe for success, you need the right mix of ingredients.
  • Requirements – Requirements are your ingredients. If you try to bake a cake with a key ingredient missing, the best technique or reputation in the world will not save you.
  • Goal – What is the true goal? Many people embark on a project not knowing where they are really going with it. It’s like setting off on a trip only knowing that you will finish up in London or New York. Those are big places, where exactly will you end the project?

What happens when these factors are not correctly determined? People spend lots of time fussing over parts of the project that have little impact on the outcome, you get half way through only to find something critical was never arranged and the project drags on and on with no end in sight!

The good news is that with some clear thinking these things can be sorted out relatively painlessly.

  1. Start with the goal. What will success look like exactly? How will you know definitively that you are done and everything is as it should be? People underestimate how tricky this can be when you don’t think it through. For example the project might be to launch a blog. Is the project complete when the blog goes live or is it when you have X subscribers?
  2. Work back from the goal. At each stage work out backwards in time what you need and what needs to happen. So before launch you upload the files, to upload the files you need the files and database in place, to have the files in place you need them coding, etc.
  3. Prioritize. Each component and task should be assigned a priority. This priority should be based on how critical it is to the goal or a task that contributes to it.
    • Priority 1 is critical,
    • Priority 2 is non-critical but significant benefit,
    • Priority 3 is nice to have.

    Make sure all P1 tasks are complete and your project will be a success, 2s and 3s are bonuses.

You know what they say, “Failure to plan is planning to fail” 🙂


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One Response

  1. Michael Martine December 7, 2007