Whether we are planning our Projects in Excel or a software like Asana or Trello, or even old fashioned pen and paper we must decide on our headings, and which are placed within these as a list or set of lists.
There are three dimensions used to track our progress within our Projects.
Time, Categories and Actions
When creating a map of our projects we need to decide if we will measure progress based on Time, Categories or Actions.
To demonstrate the contrast is easiest done in excel. Swapping the Categories and Actions alignment as in the first two images.
For simple projects where only two dimensions need tracking Excel is a great tool. I find with more complicated Projects that need all three dimensions taken care of a project management software like Asana works best, especially if you need to co-ordinate with multiple people.
To illustrate this I’m going to share an example of using the three different types of Project Headings in Asana.
Using Categories as headings with building an extension.
In this project, the categories, for us, were most easily determined by the person who will do the task. Eg Architect, Builder, Inspector.
It was most simple to measure progress based on Categories. The Categories became our column headings with a moving task list underneath.
As each task is completed it gets dragged to the next category for the next person to take action.
You can see in the Asana board below that the Design tasks by the architect are all completed. As that column contains no tasks.
The sub-footings (in the Compliance category) have been designed, built, and checked for compliance. This is demonstrated by the tick of completion.
The next step for the builder is the Floor. (This may not be entirely accurate as my awareness of building is limited, the list is based on the stages I need to pay invoices).
We also added a Category of Finance in the Project Plan. Generally, by the time you are working with a builder the finances would also be complete, but we had enough to start and so are seeking finances later in the game. These tasks are not dragged across but marked as complete in that column.
Using Actions as headings with creating a course.
Creating an online course is another example of a project.
There are two ways we could use to map our journey through the project.
Content chapters (Categories). Eg: The Design Your Success course contains a series of content headings: Dreams, Experiences, Sustainable Goals, Increasing desire, Getting out of the way, Next Steps
Content construction (Actions). The elements required for the sharing of content. (Eg: Script, Audio, Animation, Video, Handout, Upload).
Again, my preference (this week) is to use Asana for tracking. Different to the building I prefer to use the Actions as headings, and move the Categories through the actions. You can see in this example a number of items are at the Script stage of creation. Some items are still at idea stage.
In this course I am creating content in batches and so they will mostly move together to the next column as I progress. Sometimes I am more sporadic and I have content at varying levels of creation.
You can see this in the Design Your Success Course progress board.
Using Time frames as headings with house cleaning
Our third set of headings is time based.
This works best for a Project that has recurring tasks and is an ongoing project. While a builder may build many houses, and a course creator create many courses, they are usually unique and tasks within a certain category are not repeated in that project.
The Project of cleaning a house however continues. On a Daily, Weekly, Monthly basis. On occasions there will be a “Crisis” such as an older female relative coming to visit… It’s also good to have a documented plan for these times as well.
Cleaning schedules could be sorted by room (Categories). Eg. Kitchen, Bathroom, Loungeroom,
Or repeated cleaning tasks. (Tasks). Eg. Walls, Floors, Light switches, Windows, etc.
Or, as is my preference for ongoing repeated tasks, based on the timeframes. Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Seasonal or Crisis
Again, I prefer Asana, this time utilising the List view.
As we expand the list view under the Time Headings we can see some contain categories and some tasks.
Daily Tasks and Weekly/Fortnightly List contains tasks.
Monthly Cleaning by Room and Crisis Cleaning Plan contain Categories.
In the Weekly Fortnightly list - Inside the tasks we find the categories to mark as completed.
In the Monthly cleaning by room - Inside the Categories we find the Tasks.
Whether you are using an excel spreadsheet, pen and paper or an app like Asana it is essential you determine at least some of the Time Frames, Categories and Actions for your project.
Once you have determined these, you need to review how you will best track progress on your Project. Will it be by
- grouping tasks under categories (the building example) or
- moving categories through your tasks (the course creation example) or
- grouping tasks and categories under time frames (the cleaning house example)
Whichever you choose then becomes the Labels of your Columns or Lists in your Project management. Then add in your other information, the tasks, categories and/or time frames.
With this map you can now have the structure to move forward with certainty on your Project.