Simple Project Planning

I have a friend who collects tea cups. She has some that are dainty pink with roses, others that are white with gold handles. They're gorgeous.

When I was younger, my mom would embarrassingly collect all of my artwork, from my caterpillar finger paintings in preschool to nude charcoal drawings in college (the joy of being an art major). 

I've always wanted to be a collector of something, and this week I realized that I already have a collection. But the items I've been collecting aren't as cool as tea cups and artwork... I collect projects. Freelance design work, DIY Pinterest finds, class work, blog posts, home chores & fix-its... the list is embarrassingly never-ending. Oftentimes I take them on without calculating just how much time it will take me to crank them out, and inevitably I end up overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, and stressed out.

So I designed a helpful little strategy to keep up with my project collection, and I put it on paper to share with you. Introducing the Daybook Project Planner (a.k.a. my life-support). This simple page has made my life so much easier

Allow me to walk you through my project planning strategy.

This week I started designing some collateral pieces for a photographer friend. After our Skype meeting on Monday, I immediately pulled one of my Project Planner inserts out of my Daybook and got to work planning out the project from start to finish.

I began by filling in the simple details, like the project name and description. Then I listed the deadlines we discussed in our meeting.


The Action Step section helped me think through each step in the project and estimate how much time it will take me to complete it. Once I had every project step accounted for, I penciled each step into my Daybook Planner (keeping project deadlines in mind, of course).  

This Action Step section has been helpful in so many ways:

  1. It helps me assess and plan for how much time a task is going to take.
  2. It keeps me on task and prevents me from getting lost in the details.  If I set a specific time to get a task done, I'm challenged to complete it in the time that I've designated.
  3. It helps me determine how much I'm getting paid per hour for design work. When I detail out each step, I have a better idea of the total time a project will take.
  4. It trouble-shoots. When I take time to think through the entire project, I usually come up with steps that I hadn't otherwise considered.
  5. It keeps me from taking on too many tasks and overcommitting. When I write out each step and visually account for it in my planner, I can see just how much time it's taking out of my day. 
  6. It prevents procrastination. I hate feeling rushed and having to play catch up, don't you?

And last but not least, I use the little note section at the bottom to catch important links, reminders, and other helpful resources as I'm working on the project.

I know that I'm a little biased, but I love the Elle & Company Project Planner insert. It encourages me to stay on schedule and gets me excited about keeping up with my 'project collection'. A little organization goes a long way.

Now it's your turn, friends! How do you plan for projects? Are you prone to collecting projects like I am? Which planning tips will you try to implement the next time a project comes your way?