I always get overwhelmed when first assigned a new project. It’s that point in time when you have no answers, limited information, and no plan that evokes the fear of the unknown. My head begins to swim with questions, ideas, and thoughts as the new assignment is laid on me. It’s not until I have a moment to sit down and organize the muddled mess in my mind that I begin to relax and move forward with confidence.
When tackling a new project, organization is key. You have to organize your thoughts before you can even begin to make sense of it all. Here is what I do during the initial stages of project planning:
Get as much information as you can right from the beginning, and take notes. Make sure you are clear on expectations, timelines, and assumptions. If you don’t know something, leverage the knowledge and experience of others. The more details you can get from the beginning, the less chance you have of losing time by heading in the wrong direction.
Make a list (1 of many!)
This is how I release all those thoughts clogging my brain, so I can think clearly. I write things down in lists, starting with the major components of the project. I sort these sections in order of urgency and sequence. From there, I break down all the actionable items into tasks for each.
Create a timeline
Once you have a better understanding of the work breakdown structure, it’s easy to start creating a timeline or Ghantt chart. Be realistic with your time estimation; you have to find the balance between over ambitious and dragging your heels. Give yourself a little cushion because overly aggressive timelines could set your project up for failure.
I always feel much better once I have done these things. What do you do when journeying into the unfamiliar territory of a new project?
To a happy, healthy, and productive life!