At the end of May I began the Couch to 5K Running Plan, a plan to get you running in your first 5K in nine weeks. This is a great example of what a good plan should be.Every plan should have a S.M.A.R.T., end goal; that is, the goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable (even though it may not seem so at the beginning), Realistic, and Timely. You should try to sum up the goal of your project or plan in one short sentence, just like the Couch to 5K plan does. It states “[o]ur beginner’s running schedule has helped thousands of new runners get off the couch and onto the roads, running 3 miles in just two months.”
Your plan should also have S.M.A.R.T. milestones. When referring to milestones, you could replace the “timely” with “time bound.” The Couch to 5K plan has milestones split by day and week. For example the milestone for day two of the second week (W2D2 according to those in the plan) is “Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 90 seconds of jogging and two minutes of walking for a total of 20 minutes.” Sounds S.M.A.R.T… or in the case of this milestone, time bound – right?
Finally, the “output” of your plan should be measured against the main S.M.A.R.T. goal you defined before executing the plan. This will help you ensure that you have met the goal and each milestone. It will also help you ensure that your plan or project is done….after all, if it does not have an end date, it’s just another task that keeps your life or business in motion.
I have vastly over-simplified things here because many of your plans or projects have more moving parts, but if you ensure that that your plan has a S.M.A.R.T goal, that you have S.M.A.R.T. milestones, and are able to measure your plan against those elements you will be well on your way to success.
Check out these great resources for increased productivity and better project management: