Any time I start a project, I make sure to list three things about it: a purpose, a reason, and a timeline.
The project purpose is simply what I want to create. This could fall into a few categories; A physical item, a virtual item, an experience, or a process. Following are some examples:
- Physical Item – A printed book, a hand crafted table, a planter box.
- Virtual Item – A web page, a digital photo, an app.
- Experience – A vacation, a birthday party, a physical challenge.
- Process – Automating monthly bill payments, an exercise routine, a morning ritual.
The project reason is why I want to do this project. If I can’t come up with a compelling reason why I’m doing the project I shouldn’t waste my time starting it at all. Having a compelling reason motivates me to push thru the inevitable challenges that always occur when working on a project.
The project timeline give me a planned start and end date for my project. Not having an end date can allow a project to linger half done for years. Having an end date forces me to focus. With many projects, difficulties can arise pushing out the timeline but that’s OK. Making adjustments is part of the project.
Once I have the above three items defined I then setup some ‘guard rails’ for my project. These are usually constraints I have for the project. A couple examples would be: My budget is $300 and I can spend 10 hours per week working on this project.
Then I start listing the steps I need to complete the project. these may be at a high level initially, depending on how familiar I am with the project.