6 Creative ways to use your Undated Planner for Project Management
Hi again from Nicola, here at My Inner Creative! I wanted to start off by explaining a little of my day job before launching into this blog post!
During the day, I work as an innovation advisor for our national regulator, which means usually I am in back to back meetings and have a million plates spinning in the air. As a lover of planners and journals, specifically my Undated Planner I need to find a balance between my online management of project and my love for writing and journaling. For my role, we focus heavily on agile project management, KANBAN, scrums, and High Performance High Engagement Teams. So we use project management in our day to day routine. When I get home, I have a blog, instagram and essentially a business to run, so I personally like combining the two to be able to create a meaningful synergy between my love for projects and my love for planning and journals!
Getting started with Project planning 101
So lets get started! If you are new to project management, or have suddenly become a leader of a project, or even wanting to start a personal project, its really important to define your "why". Your "why" essentially sets the stage for how your project is going to be scoped or run.
If your project is personal - lets say you are painting your house - your "why" might be that you want to increase the value of your home, or it might just be that you need to update the the look of your house. From here you will want to simply put your plan into action. A common way to to do this is by using the SMART strategy. S-M-A-R-T defines your project to make it more manageable, by setting a "S"-Specific goal, "M" making it Measurable, "A" Achievable, "R" Relevant and finally "T" Timely. By defining your objects with this simple method you can start thinking about the milestones you might want to attach to these.
So lets use again the example of the house painting a suggestion for this would be
Specific: I want to paint the outside of the house by the 16th of June
Measurable: 7 Panels of the house painted by the 16th of June
Achievable: 1.5 Panels to paint per week until the 16th of June
Relevant: Increasing our house value and making the house feel amazing
Timely: Due by the 16th of June
By doing this for your main or prioritized projects you can start setting milestones in your planner like "1.5 Sides of the house painted due 30th June".
So lets now take a step back, and look into your planner for the month!
Creative tip #1: Washi Tape Project Planning
When you are setting up your planner for the month, think about things that might be coming up as priorities or things you might what to prepare for. They can be small, or they can be big! So what I have done is mark my specific projects with colored washi tape to remind me when they are coming up in my planner.
Down the right side, I have used this pace for my key priorities. Down the bottom I have used my grid space to remind me of which washi works with which project, as well as a reminder for what SMART stands for!
Once you head into the actual pages of your your month, you can run the washi tape down the side of the page to show you when the project is due or running.
Creative tip #2: The Project Planning Dashboard
Sometimes in the undated planner it can feel like you might not have the flexibility or space to fit all the things in you need. This is totally untrue, and easily solved with a simple dutch door used as a project panel/dashboard.
To create the dashboard, I used a sheet of dot grid paper from my Archer and Olive A5 notebook, I cut it and used a pretty washi tape to stick it in! (Granted - I used a washi tape like, but it ended up not matching anything because of its color! HAHA!)
On the front of my dashboard I have a simple weekly task list with my time blocked out. I use "X" to show that I used the time, and a - to show it was missed. At the bottom I use my "Meeting Notes" stickers, which fit perfectly onto a half page of. dotted grid paper.
As you saw earlier you I used the other side to track my Projects as well as my actual weekly trackers. I like to know I am crossing of catch ups and follow ups, as well as the number of times our team meets.
You'll see another sneaky thing I did in my planner was in increase my meeting space writing, I used washi tape to cover Saturday and Sunday and create the space to be able to take more notes as that is something that is important to me, far more important that weekly plans which is essentially non existent for mums! Hahaha!
Creative tip #3: Blanking out your extra days with dot grid note paper
When the month happens to end on the left side of the page, what I usually do is stick in an extra sheet of my Archer and Olive dot grid note paper and use the space for whatever I might need.
Creative tip #4: Mini dashboards for short weeks
It's really tricky to keep track of your projects if you month ends on a short week. I found these great Ombre week sets what I stuck in with some washi tape! It makes it really easy to see the week at a glance, and not lose the the fact that its a short week for the month.
Creative tip #5: Use your weekends for extra space
As I mentioned earlier in the post - I don't really use my weekend in my planner, so I usually cover it up and use it for extra note taking space, or space to make things feel a bit more "pretty" or "plannery" (is that even a word!?)
You'll also notice on this spread, I have tracked when I get paid and the bills that need to come out.
Another thing I find that helps me is using small meeting stickers which describe when, where, who and actions from meetings. This helps me keep track of things I might need to action later in the month or for next month!
Creative tip #6: Make a mini KANBAN Board
Kanban was originally designed to be a high performance team strategy at Toyota for quick delivery of projects and for transparency on projects. The idea was to have a list of things that were delayed or coming up, things that were currently going to be done, things you are doing and things that have been done!
Obviously if you are not sharing your projects with others, it's not critical to make this transparent. So to keep in simple I have used sticky notes that are easy to move from section to section.
Using the little sticky notes make it really easy to swap and change the locations. This is a great way to follow your projects and if you have dates on them you can see how well you've done and keeping track of your projects.
On the other side of my Kanban board, you'll see I've mapped out my my year projects to make sure I have a high level over view of all of them. I could absolutely use my undated section up front for this, but I like using that for key productive milestones to kinda....you know....feel good about things things I am achieving. Again using that extra space on the dashboard that I made with the other half of the sheet I had from June.