Sometimes, work can get so hectic that things start to get uncoordinated, the visibility of work completion is non-existent, and there’s poor communication amongst team members. How can one hope to complete projects properly and successfully in a setup like this? You simply can’t. It’s either the work is late or the quality is poor. This kind of system – or lack, thereof – just won’t do.
This is where project calendars come in. It’s not even solely about the Zen of being organized. If you create a project calendar and implement it within your team, you can expect an increase in productivity, improved timeliness and higher efficiency. Sounds great, right? We’ll walk you through how to create a project calendar but, first, a few of the basics.
A project calendar takes your project, breaks it down into tasks and subtasks, and allows you and your team to tackle each of them one by one. A project calendar gives you a visual sample of your project’s lifecycle, so to speak, so you can map out what you and your team do and when, until the project is complete.
Think of your project as a program where every activity has an allotted time, and one is lined up after the other until the whole thing is complete. You can create a project calendar and share it with your team so you can all move towards completion as one group with one goal.
If you’re not used to using such a resource, you will be surprised to find how quickly parts of the project fall into place and task dependencies make sense. You’ll find that progress becomes a lot faster, and results are overall better once you’ve employed a system as simple as a calendar. Because your team also has access to it, they’ll have a sense of accountability in making sure each task and subtask is done as soon as they are able.
Thanks to the sharing capacity and increased visibility within your workgroup, you can expect people to start looking out for the quality of their output. Since you know someone else will be picking up where you left off in the case of task dependencies, you will have the tendency to take better care of the work you do so the standard is passed down the line.
How to create a project calendar
Although your project calendars may vary depending on the project, timeline, and the size of your team, its main components remain the same, so you can have a set list to follow. If you want to create a project calendar, you can approach it the same way you create your own work calendar, but this time, you have other people involved in the process, like your team and clients.
The first step, of course, is to find the project management tool that works best for you and your team and fits your needs. You can do a whole lot of functions and activities with the right project management tool apart from being able to create a project calendar. The other steps are as follows:
Probably the most basic but also the most important part of any project and project management calendar. Your tasks take you from the starting gate to the finish line of every project and give you and your team a goal to shoot for. Make sure to map out which tasks need to be done first and then which one comes next, and so on.
Once you have your list of tasks, you can break them down further into subtasks. This is helpful for the bigger ones so you can cut them up into chunks and distribute them amongst your team so they can be completed faster. Also, identify any dependencies, if there are any so you can better manage the timeliness of each task.
When it comes to time management, make sure that each time frame is well-suited to the size of the task. Take into account the tools needed and the manpower as well. Make sure to also consider the SLA you set with your client, so you always have your main project deadline in view.
Whenever you create a project calendar, be sure to also identify which tasks you can afford to be flexible with deadlines. You should also have room to move tasks around since there may be instances where a task is stalled for some reason, or one has to be moved further up the timeline compared to the others.
This is where the importance of a project management tool comes in. A project planning calendar has to be something that can be shared with a group of people, such as your team and clients. Everyone involved should be able to make edits and updates as they go along without interrupting the workflow.
Identify who your key players are, which person is assigned to which task, and so on, to make responsibilities and scope clear. This is also essential when you need to assign approvers and give access to certain documents and files.
Stay on top of the goings-on to make sure nothing falls by the wayside and gets missed. Before you know it, your timeline is all wonky because of one missed deadline and you can’t have that. So, when you create a project calendar, keep in mind that you need to regularly check in to see the amount and quality of work that’s been done so far.
If you’re checking in on the tasks, be sure to chat with your team as well. You don’t have to have a full meeting but make sure you look in on the people in your team so they stay motivated and encouraged. Making yourself available in this manner also makes them feel they can come to you if they’re feeling overwhelmed. This is better than having them miss deadlines or under-deliver.
The project itself has enough moving parts already, and you need to make sure everyone in your team is on the same page. You can’t afford to lose people or let them fall out of sync because your vision and mission for the project is lost in the complexities of your project calendar. It’s a tool that should help everyone else stay focused on what needs to be done.
It helps to be clear and concise when it comes to your project planning calendar to avoid confusion. If you have instructions, get straight to the point quickly to make good use of the time you have. When providing feedback, use language that’s easy to understand so you won’t have people coming back to you for their marching orders more than once.
Don’t forget that your team can get tired and overwhelmed, too. Choose a project management software that allows you to keep track of their workloads so you can spread the work out amongst all of them. This keeps your team free from feeling burnt out and overworked while also distributing the workload and eventual gratification once the project is complete.
Use colors when assigning a task to someone in your team. The colors can give you a visual representation of the amount of work that person already has on their plate. You’ll know right away that some work redistribution is necessary once you see a lot of that color in your project calendar.
When you create a project calendar, remember that it’s an evolving tool for you and your team, and such, changes should be expected. Deadlines can move around, assignments can change hands, and references or tools can be updated. A project management tool that has Gantt charts or Kanban boards where you can move tasks around would be most helpful.
Be mindful of the people you work with as well. They might need a breather every now and then, which means you need to work around their needs from time to time. The requirements of the project may also change anytime, so keep an eye out for those events.
A smart manager uses all the tools available to them to their advantage. Creating a project management calendar helps you complete projects in a timely manner. You can also keep an eye on the quality of output and keep in touch with your team every step of the way. Being able to measure your progress and the standard of quality validates your efforts.
Make life easier for you and your team and make your daily productivity more smooth and efficient with a well-thought out and properly-crafted project calendar. Your main goal in project management should not only be to complete a task but to complete a task on time.