A simple, fast template for planning so-called micro-projects—short, usually low-cost, low-effort projects that will take just a few days, or at most a few weeks, to complete. A fast outline to keep you organized and help you spot and overcome obstacles to success.
What this is
A simple template for managing so-called micro-projects—short, usually low-cost, low-effort projects that will take just a few days, or at most a few weeks, to complete. Examples of possible micro-projects include short work projects, like designing and programming a new report or upgrading software on a few computers in one workgroup, and ordinary life-projects like moving, selecting the right college, or planning a family vacation (the example used for this document).
Why it's useful
When you're confronted with anything that leaves you wondering—even for a moment—what the next step is, you have a project on your hands, and even small projects deserve to be managed. First and foremost, this template demonstrates that it is possible, and even rational, to apply basic project management to just about any project, as long as you don't go overboard.
Beyond that, this template will provide a useful outline for anyone looking to plan and "manage" a short-term, low-effort project that doesn't warrant a full-out project plan. Taking the time to establish what you want from a project—your objectives, flexibility, budget constraints, etc.—can help you achieve your goals in surprising ways, and in spite of any obstacles that may leap into your path.
How to use it
Ideally, your micro-project plan will serve only as a thinking tool, and a reminder to jot some quick notes about what you're trying to accomplish and why. There should be no need to hold a formal meeting or get plan approval for most projects of this type. (An exception may be when you're trying to convince a manager that it's worth a little extra time on a pet project—a well thought-out plan can go a long way toward making the case, and insuring that the new effort won't undermine existing deadlines or objectives.)
You should be able to answer all these questions for yourself and your micro-project very quickly, by having a few informal conversations and taking the time to think through the template. From the perspective of others involved, it should look like things are falling into place fairly easily, and that you're very organized—not like you're managing things and people within an inch of their lives. The example plan in this document takes just 2-1/2 pages, and very little text.
Remember to seek out the lessons learned from previous projects. If you've done a similar project in the past, review it quickly in your head. Have you incorporated all of the lessons you learned the last time? If your previous project involved others, tap them on the shoulder and ask them for some brief input as well. Yours is not the only memory of how that project went, and your version of events may not be the most reliable. Don't discount any of your team members; they may contribute important insights.
When you've finished, review your plan. Does it still look feasible? Is it worth the effort now that you've thought it all the way through? Make any necessary adjustments, then implement your plan by starting with the first action item on your list and knocking them off one by one.
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