Sample Project Plan

Say you're overwhelmed by how messy your house is. Project management for this problem would look like this:

What do we want to accomplish? This doesn't have to be fancy or impressive; just be honest. "I want the house clean enough that when my mother-in-law complains, I know she's unjustified in her complaints." "I want the house clean enough that I can walk from room to room without tripping over anything."

What will it take to get us there? Again, just list the major problems. In my house it would look something like:

  • Do dishes
  • Clean rest of kitchen
  • Pick up stuff in bedroom
  • Do laundry
  • Make bed
Those are all accomplishable, so we don't need to write substeps. And in this case the project is small enough that you should be able to finish it in one go, without setting deadlines. But do look at the order of things. If you keep dishes from your midnight snacks in the bedroom, you should clean the bedroom before you do dishes; otherwise you'll end up with another pile of dishes to do afterwards. Picking up stuff in the bedroom should probably also happen before laundry.

Who will do these things? If you're doing this project with your family or roommates, divide the list up now. Otherwise, it's all you.

You should be able to tell easily enough which tasks have been done. And if you made your list complete, it should get you to your objective. But if, as you're working, you notice something else that needs to be done in order to get your house clean, or notice that this isn't really helping you get there (You know, what my mother-in-law always complains about is the food. I should be cooking dinner.) then modify your plan.

That's it. The entire planning process took me 6 minutes and 36 seconds to complete, and made the housecleaning seem much less daunting.

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