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Getting Things Done project management tips for personal lifeEven if you are not a project manager by trade, you likely can use some project management tips for personal life. We all have some projects we are going to tackle, whether it is planning a party, remodeling a room, organizing photos, or applying to colleges. If you’re like most people, you spend some time procrastinating getting started on the project! We often make these things into something way bigger than they are. When the project scope, steps, and goals are vague, this is easy to do. So how do we get started AND complete a project?

Getting Started

Getting started on your personal project is the hardest part! Here are a few ideas on how to get the project management ball rolling:

  • Brainstorm – What you would like to accomplish with this project? What is your goal? When do you want or need to have it complete?
  • Plan Backwards – Follow these steps to create your plan in backward order then you will execute in forward order.
    1. DONE – What does DONE look like? If it is something you can sketch out, do it! Even a rudimentary sketch of a complete project will help you define what you want to accomplish. For example, if you need to write an essay, sketch out how many pages it will be, draw in photos where needed, add in space for footnotes, etc.
    2. DOING – How do I get to the sketch I drew? What are the steps? How long do I think each step will take?
    3. TO DO – What materials do I need to get my project done? How do I get ready?

Project Management Tips for Personal Life

  • Decide what kind of task management tool you will use to manage this project. Try not to get bogged down in technology for project management. There are many applications out there but for a typical personal project, you won’t need anything that robust. Here are a few examples:
    • Outlook Tasks, GMail Tasks (Outlook has a robust task manager that allows you to set up recurring tasks, drag and drop related emails into the task, set start and end dates, track percentage complete, assign tasks to team members, categorize and prioritize and so much more.  It’s probably the best feature of Outlook and the least utilized. This video will show you how to get started using Outlook Tasks. The first 5 minutes should give you what you need to know.)
    • Task App
    • Post-it Notes
    • Index Cards
    • Simple Text Outline on Paper
  • Now that you’ve defined your project scope and deadlines and created an outline of the steps, take a look at the sequence of the steps to ensure they are in the correct order. Move them around until the order seems right
  • Estimate how long each step will take. I like to use the 20% rule and add 20% more time than I think it will take
  • Set deadlines for each step of the project, keeping in mind your final project deadline
  • Determine what your optimal energy periods are for this type of work. Are you a morning person? Will you only have time for this on the weekends?
  • Schedule time for this project on your calendar. Actually write an appointment with yourself on your calendar or you will easily forget what you have committed to! Without this step, your project is just a dream

Staying Motivated

You planned backward and you are ready to now work forward. But how do you keep the project management motivation going?

  • If you struggle to work on your own on projects, find a friend or family member who would like to work side-by-side on their own project. The will act as a “body double” and will be an example of working diligently
  • Give yourself rewards for completing steps in the project! It’s amazing what a little motivation will do to get through a difficult step
  • Stay on track by checking your priorities and setting boundaries with those who are asking for your time. Read more on setting boundaries in this “Saying NO and Setting Boundaries” blog post.

Looking for more project management tips for personal life? Check out this post on Employed for Good.

Share with us how your project management is working. Did you get the big project done?