Project Management Pt 4: The Jigsaw Puzzle

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

This is an ongoing series about managing writing-related projects. In this edition I want to get deeper into analyzing time. The original post is here, part 2 is here and part 3 is here.

The following is an excerpt from the original post on comparing time needed and time available. I want to take this information and then share from the other posts to gain more perspective with these elements of project management.

Compare time needed to time available: You know how much time you have per week and how much time a project and tasks need but how do they mesh together? Perhaps you have a novel to revise and estimate 50 hours of work. If your deadline is a month away then based on your weekly available time you know how much time is available to assign per week to the revision using a little math. Now you have a reasonable expectation for daily and weekly goals. But hold on there! You also have other tasks or projects during the week to address. In this case you should scale back expectations on the revision and assign how much time you need for these other jobs. Here’s where knowing your priorities comes into play. If you know your long-term, main priority is finishing the novel then it gets both weekly and daily priority, meaning it gets the lion-share of time applied to it. However, say you need to complete blog posts during the week. Since these are shorter and need regular attention your might assign time each day to blog. Or you might develop all of a week’s worth of posts in one day and then schedule them to be published. It’s up to you to divvy up the time that meets your needs according to priorities and available time. Regardless, you must make reasonable time for each item that needs your attention during the month/week/day in order to know what to expect.

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If you’ve read the other posts you begin to see that available time and time needed combined with setting prioritized goals begins to be a puzzle of sorts. But to be organized you must sort the pieces and put them together. To do that you need perspective. I’m sure most people have put together a jigsaw puzzle and used a method similar to this:

  1. Sort out all the edge pieces.
  2. Sort the remaining pieces by color or identifiable objects from the image.
  3. Frame the puzzle by putting all the edge pieces together.
  4. Consult the box-top image for clues to where the remaining pieces go.
Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

Managing your writing projects is a similar function. By sorting your various pieces effectively with your survey you gain clarity. With clarity your survey provides perspective to make decisions about scheduling. As long as you pursue this with flexibility, that is, understanding what’s affecting your time, goals, priorities and schedule you can pivot your schedule to suit your demanding life and changing needs. For instance, you may find that you may need to suspend some long-term goals in order to complete a string of shorter ones. In doing so, you can clear a path to the long-term goals.

Now is the time to inspect your pieces and how they fit together. Ask yourself how will this information improve your effectiveness? Your answers should address short-term needs but keep you moving toward long-term goals.

What do you see from your survey? Can you see a way to move along daily to meet your goals? How will this make you more effective? I’d love to hear from you so won’t you leave a question, idea or strategy in the comment section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today!

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

2 comments

  1. The jigsaw analogy is a good one and it fits my situation perfectly (sorry, couldn’t resist).
    As a stay at home Dad, balancing the time available against the time needed has been a haphazard trial and error process.
    Thank you for the guidance, a survey of my time spent/time available is now a priority.
    I just need to schedule some time to do it…

    1. Ironic of course. I’m constantly tweaking how I schedule anyway. Sounds like you may need to schedule one day at a time but knowing when, how and what you will do eliminates days of doing nothing at all – unless irony kicks in…

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