3 simple steps to action plans

Whether it’s sending out an email newsletter, doing DIY on the house, getting healthy or starting a new business, many of us find we have mini projects to do as part of our day-to-day responsibilities.

These small projects may, at first glance, not seem to need much thought. However, occasionally, we can overlook a key step or “to do” item that can through us completely off track.   So why not learn from steps that businesses take.

How do you make sure that you’ve covered everything? Are there any actions that need to be taken early on in the project for it to succeed? And are you clear about when you need to do key tasks, in what sequence, to meet your deadline?

Action Plans are simple lists of all of the tasks that you need to finish to meet an objective. They differ from “to do lists” as they focus on the achievement of a single goal.

Action Plans provide a framework for thinking about how you’ll complete a project efficiently and what order you’ll tackle your actions. They help you ensure that you don’t miss any key steps and assign deadlines to keep you focussed.

To draw up an Action Plan, simply list the tasks that you need to carry out to achieve your objective, in the order that you need to complete them. (This is very simple, but it is still very useful!).  Here’s how in 3 simple steps:

  1. Identify tasks – use whatever works for you, try mind mapping techniques or write a list.  Or brainstorm with a friend or colleague.  The best place to start is always the beginning.  What’s the very first action you’ll need to take? Once that task is complete, what comes next? Are there any steps that should be prioritised to meet specific deadlines, or because of limits on other people’s availability?
  2. Analyse – Now that you can see the entire project from beginning to end, look at each task in greater detail.  Are there any steps that you could drop, but still meet your objective? Which tasks could you get someone else involved with? Are there any deadlines for specific steps? Do you need to arrange additional resources e.g. hire a plasterer?
  3. Check Resources – so you have everything you need?  For a DIY project you might need to go out and buy paintbrushes etc.  Setting up a business this might be about knowledge.

Once you’ve completed your Action Plan, keep it close and update it with additional activities if required.

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