Planning

Planning

Have a plan. However bad it might be. It’s much better to come up with a numbered steps plan and ask people to help you to improve it than make them guess or create one for you.

Have troubles making a plan? Try Goal Breakdown

Having a big goal with many time-consuming steps can be very stressful, or even overwhelming. This is the type of goal that you will always start “tomorrow” or “next week”, but those times never seem to come. Learning to break your goals into atomic tasks will help you overcome the stress and procrastination they create.

Here are some tips for breaking goals into tasks:

  • Set SMART goals
  • Avoid creating tasks that require longer than one hour, unless absolutely necessary.
  • If you find a task is difficult to start, it might be too big. See if it can be broken down further. For example, “practice playing guitar” can be broken down to “practice the beginning of a song”.
  • Long tasks that cannot be broken down further should be set to a time limit
  • The tasks you create are not set in stone. If a task is more difficult than expected, break it down further or spread it out over more time. If a task is easier than expected, combine it with other tasks.
  • Protect the time that you schedule for tasks. Turn off your phone, go somewhere with few distractions, and set a timer to keep track of how long you’ve been working.

4-Step Principle

Follow these 4 steps whenever you approach a new task. It is important to get to the MVP stage as soon as possible and iterate often!

  1. Functional Requirements (business goals)
  2. Technical Requirements (what it takes to achieve business goals)
  3. Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
  4. Small Iterations

MVP

Minimum Viable Product

Get to an MVP as quickly as possible. A rough mock-up with missing features is good enough. Start with building everything yourself and involve relevant colleagues as needed, relying on them only to improve specific parts of the product, rather than solving abstract problems. The idea is to have a full skeleton from day one to see the product as a whole. It will help you identify bottlenecks early, involve the right people, and provision any additional resources in advance. A working MVP will also allow you to leverage task parallelization - multiple people can start working on improving different parts independently. Don’t expect your tasks to go as planned if you haven’t prototyped them. The worst thing that can happen is you discovering surprises in the last piece of puzzle the day before the deadline.