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Take Your Creative Work to the Next Level Through My Simplified Project Planning Method
Write More With Less Stress
Project planning isn't just for corporate teams. The best and most prolific indie creatives use project planning to analyze their ideas, solve potential problems before they become crises, and keep their projects on schedule.
Professional writers, bloggers, and other creatives don't let writer's block stop them - because they know that successful planning is the key to beating writer's block before it has a chance to start.
Content and Overview
This course is designed for creatives - not full-time project managers. I'll introduce you to all of the concepts and terms you'll need to know. You'll be able to get started quickly, and apply the lectures, worksheets and templates included in this course to your current work-in-progress.
As you work through the 8 projects in this course, you'll analyze your current resources - including time and energy, then break your project down into a step-by-step task list.
You'll use that information to create a realistic project schedule that you know you'll be able to stick to. And if life happens, you'll learn how to recover and get back on track.
This course will help you do more of what you love, and will give you the tools you need to stand above the crowd in today's creative marketplace.
This course begins with a few assumptions and expectations:
I assume that you are:
A few things you can expect:
Project planning is simply a roadmap of your project, with turn-by-turn directions.
It allows you to focus on each of the three aspects of your work (creative decisions, craft, and the business of writing) separately.
Let's be sure you've got the basics down before we dive into the process.
In Section 2, we begin to analyze the resources you already have. This section contains two important projects:
In this project, you'll learn more about how you accomplish your work. You'll discover that some tasks take time and physical energy, but relatively little mental or creative energy, while others are more taxing on your creative resources, but require little physical energy.
You'll also begin to gather data on how long typical tasks actually take you to accomplish. This will be important later in the course, when you schedule your tasks.
Some projects require more physical tools and resources than others. Even if you don't think you'll need any tools or supplies for your project, this is the time to do some preventative maintenance:
These steps will ensure that you're ready to start work on your project, and that you won't lose time to emergency repairs later on.
It's always a good idea to start a new project knowing your ideal outcome. In this lecture, we'll take a few minutes to dream big and to answer one crucial question:
Why are you investing your time and energy in THIS project? What do you hope to accomplish in each of three key areas:
In this project, you'll take your brainstorming from the previous lecture and write a brief, 1-page or less, project description. This will help you stay on track when you're tempted to follow tangents.
You'll also refine your ideas and goals pertaining to the three key areas of creative excitement, career advancement, and financial improvements.
In this section, your project will begin to take shape. Even if you're anxious to get started, stick with the planning process. Breaking down your project now will help you foresee complications and problems early, while they're easy to solve.
There are three basic ways to break down a creative project:
The important thing to remember is to use the method that makes the most sense for your work style and your project.
A task is any action that:
A phase is simply a collection of tasks that are related, either chronologically, contextually, or in some other way.
A milestone is a task that marks the completion of a phase. It reminds you to come up for air, do a gut-check on your project, and celebrate your progress.
In this project, you'll brainstorm the tasks required to complete your project, and learn two effective brainstorming techniques.
Use the method that makes the most sense for you and your project.
Now that you have a list of the tasks you'll need to accomplish in order to complete your project, it's time to dig out your time journal to figure out how long those tasks will take.
If you don't have specific data from your journal on a task, make your best guess, and add 10-25%.
A dependency is "that thing you have to do before you can do this other thing."
In this project, you'll bring your task list and dependencies together to create a high-level map of your project. When you're finished, you should have a good idea of what your project will involve and how complex it will be.
Each serve a unique purpose in keeping your project on track.
In this lecture, you'll learn how to revise your project time line if you want to complete your project sooner than forecasted.
This project is where it all comes together, and you find out your project's completion date. You'll map the information from your time line:
onto your calendar, where you can adjust for holidays and other commitments.
When it comes to monitoring your project, there are three key lessons to keep in mind:
In this lecture, you'll learn how to put all of the information you've gathered together into a cohesive project plan document. Include your
In your final project, use the Project Plan Template in the resources section to create your final project plan document. This will be a useful guide for you as you go through your project, as well as a tool for bringing other people on board.
Congratulations on finishing the course!
Some of you noticed an odd shadow at the end of the lecture on Phases, Milestones, and Tasks - nope, the course isn't haunted, we just had a photobomber!
Tricia Ballad began her professional life as a web developer for application teams at TransUnion, Greenwich Capital, and Follett Library Resources. Driven by her interest in productivity and project workflow, she studied best practices and strategies for getting more done.
In 2004, she left the corporate world to pursue a full-time writing career while caring for her growing family. She has authored and co-authored several books, including Securing PHP Web Applications (Addison-Wesley Professional, 2008), PHP & MySQL Web Development All-In-One Desk Reference For Dummies (For Dummies, 2008), Access Control, Authentication, and Public Key Infrastructure (Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2010), Daughter of Oreveille (Faeland Press, 2013, and Lady of Gaia (Faeland Press, 2014).
She also started several successful blogs, including a travel blog called Return to Disney, where she writes about Walt Disney World vacations for families affected by autism, ADHD, and food allergies. Her blogging career really took off after she and her husband took their children to Walt Disney World in 2010 to get away from the world after two of their sons were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. They needed a break from reality.
Tricia's interest in productivity and project management became a full-blown obsession as she faced the challenges of meeting her professional goals while balancing the responsibilities of a large, creative, and demanding family of special-needs kids.
In her decade of creative entrepreneurship, Tricia has modified the project management skills she learned in the software development arena to apply to unique needs of writers and other creatives. In 2011, she formed the MomWriters Goals Group, where she mentors other writers facing challenges related to goal setting, project planning and management, and staying on track despite distractions. She currently blogs about writing amidst the chaos of life at TB Creative.