Do Your Project Twice

You should complete your project twice. Once when you walk through it in the planning stage, and once when you do the work.

We served a birthday brunch at our place on Boxing Day. As I was preparing for the brunch, I made a project plan. I was reminded of how useful a project plan is, even for your little projects. In this project, the timing of the different dishes was critical. The cook-time for each item required a different start. In general, we were aiming to have the meal ready for 11:30 when the guests were expected to arrive.

Every time you are about to embark on a project, big or small, you should do your work twice. First, walk through the entire project in your mind. Put it on paper, lay out how it is going to work. Then do it in reality.

Most of the time we don’t walk through the project the first time. We don’t because we are scared that the first time through will show us the problems with the project. Specific tasks will take too much time and effort. We won’t ever be able to get the project done within budget. The way that we have structured our team is ineffective an likely to fail. We don’t want to know all of this in advance, because then we have to deal with it in advance. We expect that by diving into the project, many of these issues will resolve themselves. I promise they won’t.

If you don’t do start by planning your project as your first run-through, then your first run-through will be as you deliver the project. You will have to make the same adjustments that you would have made on the paper plan. You will have to make the same changes in real life. A quote attributed to the architect Frank Lloyd Wright says, “You can use an eraser on the drafting table or a sledgehammer on the construction site.”

If you are leading projects in the right way, you are working through your project twice. First, you plan it; then you do it.

My Brunch Preparation Project Plan