Intro to Shmorian Project Planning & the Qualities

Yes, two posts ago, I said the next post would be about Necessity. This is still not that post. We’ll come back to that.

Today, I wanted to talk about how our No-Brainer set of qualities can help us in planning our projects. And how we can plan projects in ways that bring more of those qualities into our lives.

When I’m planning a project for my business (or helping someone else plan), there are some very basic questions to answer.

Shmorian* Project Planning in under 1.25 tweets

What is the goal of the project?
What are the steps involved?
How long will the steps take (individually and in total)?
Are there any externally-imposed deadlines?
Most importantly: What is my capacity?

Once you have the answers to those questions, you can create your project plan. (Yes, there’s a bit more to it than that, but not nearly as much as you’d think.)

* “Shmorian” is a reference to my Twitter handle victoriashmoria. Friends often refer to me as Ms. Shmoria or even just Shmoria. Are we following each other, yet?

A few words on Capacity

Capacity is the thing that lets your plan be sane and sustainable. It simply means “the amount of time I have available to invest in this project.”

If you’ve got 10 hours a week to put toward the Thing you’re trying to do or create, and the steps you need to complete will take you a total of 100 hours, you’re looking at about 10 weeks to complete the project.

Capacities vary from person-to-person. And from project-to-project. Because it all depends on whose life we’re talking about, and what that person has on their plate at the time they’re planning.

100% capacity does not mean you have 24 hours a day to work on something. You have to account for sleep. And eating. Possibly a day job. Driving your kids to school and soccer practice and piano lessons. And don’t forget about transition time – nobody pulls into the garage and walks straight to their desk to be productive.

If you’re not realistic about what your capacity is, you will either lose a lot of sleep making up for it, or you won’t complete the project when you thought you would. It just doesn’t pay to set your capacity higher than what you can reasonably handle.

But what does this have to do with the Qualities?

Here are some questions (with my answers) to get you thinking in terms of applying your No-Brainer qualities to planning a project.

What are the qualities you’re wanting more of?

As mentioned previously, mine are Connection, Creativity, Fun, Stability, Safety and Sovereignty.

How can you infuse the goal of your project with your chosen qualities?

For the sake of the example, we’ll say that the goal of my project is to create a six-week group teleclass.

A lot of the qualities (connection, creativity) will be there by virtue of the connection brought by a group class, and the creativity required to develop the material.

I could increase safety by offering the class as a beta program to a selected group of people.

How can you infuse the steps with the qualities?

Safety and Stability could come from making sure I break down the entire project into very manageable pieces – maybe even making sure each step will take no more than 2 – 4 hours. That way, every day I’m likely to have at least a couple of things I can check off my list, so I’ll see steady progress.

How can you infuse your time estimates with the qualities?

Again, I can really increase stability and safety by being conservative with my estimates. It’s much better to overestimate how long something will take. And then add an Oh Shit Factor of 10 or even 20% of the time I’ve estimated for each task, so if something takes longer than expected, I’m not instantly running behind.

How can you honor your chosen qualities if there are external deadlines?

This one’s a little trickier. Let’s say I wanted to announce my course on a particular date, say at a conference or some other workshop. I don’t have the luxury of changing someone else’s workshop date.

This is where sovereignty and safety come in.

Maybe I can develop the course just enough to announce it. Not everything has to be complete before I announce the program.

Another way sovereignty can come in is with my own priorities. If I choose to move forward with announcing the class on a particular date, I can also try to take some lower priority items off my plate. And say no to additional opportunities.

I could also change the amount of material I want to cover. Maybe I make it a three-part course instead of six, so that it’s easier to complete on time.

Or I can check in with myself and see that this external deadline, although appealing, just isn’t reasonable, and I can say no.

How can I infuse my capacity with my chosen qualities?

Safety and sovereignty are huge, here. (So are support and flow, if those were among your chosen qualities.)

This is where being realistic about my capacity becomes absolutely critical.

I can decrease my capacity enough to make sure I get plenty of time for self-care and fun, because if I’m burned out, I won’t be as productive.

Another way I could look at it is to put some (or all) of my self-care practices into my official project plan. (Either way is fine – it just depends on what feels better for you. If you have trouble justifying self-care, maybe it would work better to schedule it into the project plan.)

I can also look at outsourcing some things so that I have more time to spend on the project. Or I could outsource some of the project itself.

How do you feel about planning your project, now that you’ve considered the qualities you want more of?

It feels less restrictive, because I can see that my plan is up to me, and I have options for how to make the process sustainable, even when there are external deadlines. I have a much clearer picture for why I’m planning the way I’m planning. And I didn’t think it would be so easy to bring my chosen qualities into something as technical as project planning.

Until next time…

Maybe we’ll circle back to Necessity. Or maybe we’ll explore project planning a bit more. It’ll be a surprise.

How about you?

What are your chosen qualities? What are some ways you’ll honor them when you’re planning your next project? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Liking this series on qualities and applying them to your business and life?

This is exactly the kind of work we’ll be doing in my upcoming course, starting 3/18. It all starts with getting clear on the qualities that are important to you. Then we’ll apply them to your business vision, your expenses and income, and your projects.

You’ll wind up clear on your vision, knowing where you stand financially, and you will plan and implement at least one new offering for your existing business or launch your new business. Tomorrow the price goes up $200, but you can still sign up at the discounted price here.

3 thoughts on “Intro to Shmorian Project Planning & the Qualities

  1. Marie

    Reading this almost made me cry. I have been presented with several personal projects I find challenging because others involved simply do not understand that MY capacity is not what they expect.

    I’ve felt overwhelmed and rather shamed that I couldn’t fulfill these projects at the pace expected. I have so many things on my plate and it just seemed like whining to take those into consideration.

    While I shouldn’t need your “permission” to consider these, you have empowered me to say boldly, This has to go at my pace. And I feel more confident about addressing sovereignty and safety, which are big issues for me.

    Thank you so much. You have certainly successfully reached me today.

  2. Kelly Parkinson

    I just came here to say, I wish all project managers had your philosophy. Wow. And Marie’s comment above just goes to show how hungry we are for a better way of thinking about work. Capacity is definitely one of my words for 2010. Capacity and Qualities! Now I kinda want to see “The Shmorian Business Plan,” etc… ;)

Comments are closed.