Sunday, February 19, 2012

Using a Planner Part 4

I haven't actually used this technique since I'm still formulating it. I just want to describe the idea and maybe, by putting it down in words, I might come up with something.

When I receive a long term goal, I need to track my progress. That's because my boss wants to be informed of how far along I am in achieving the goal. When we talk about the goal, he's always asking what I've done so far, what I still need to do and, the really vague part, how many percent complete is the job.

How can I say, with some certainty, how many percent along I am in completing the job? In my case, it's always been a guess and my boss has usually accepted my guesses at face value. Sometimes, however, after saying it's 75% complete, I get a thrashing of sorts when the job takes several months to actually complete. It's kinda difficult to answer the question, "How could it take three months to finish the last 25% of the job?"

So, I needed to come up with a progress tracking method. Outlook's Task List has a feature where you can choose the percent complete. It's just an drop-down box where you can choose the percentage. That's' nice but it doesn't help you determine what number to choose. So, here's how I'm planning to do it:

I plan to cut up each task into five to ten steps or mini-tasks. In our office, we call these "milestones."

Let's say you have a task that says, "Organize a meeting for the team at the Neville Hotel on March 22, 2012."

You breakdown the task into a list of steps or mini-tasks. One such list might be:
  1. Obtain the list of people who need to be a the meeting.
  2. Call/Visit the Neville Hotel and ask for a reservation for a function room.
  3. Inform all attendees about the meeting.
  4. Two days before the meeting, remind everyone about the meeting.
  5. Attend the meeting.
Since I have five steps, I can allot each step a 20% value. When I finish Step 1, I put 20% on the % Complete box. When I finish Step 2, I increase the % Complete to 40% and so on. When Step 5 is finished, I put 100%. Don't mind the Status box. As soon as you put a value more than 0% into the % Complete, the Status will be updated to "In Progress." When the value is 100%, it automatically becomes "Completed."

You don't have to evenly divide 100% into your number of steps. In the example above, you can put 10% for Step 1, 50% for Step 2, 70% for Step 3, 90% for Step 4, and 100% for Step 5. It depends on you if you want to assign a bigger or smaller percentage to a step.

Well, I guess that's it for this series. I hope someone finds something useful for themselves here. Let's keep those tasks rolling.

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