So you’re ready to start a project

So you’re ready to start a project


I assume you’re not planning to keep all the relevant information about this project in your head, and will make some notes, either on paper or on your phone or computer. Here’s what I see as the essential information you need to capture about any project you start.

1. Purpose and outcome

The why and the what are a great place to start - time for a problem / solution check. While you might evolve and refine them over time, spending 5 mins to clarify these, and then having them at the top of the page whenever you come back to work on the project, will get you focussed quickly.

Purpose (why): You’re looking to change something - maybe you have perceived a ‘problem’ and you’re looking to solve it.

Outcome (what): Specific and measurable, so I will know when it’s done. You’ve I thought through various alternative strategies, and decided on the approach you’re going to take. Now you can list the measurable outcomes, and the date you want to have them met.

2. Notes

While keeping the purpose and outcome in mind, getting ideas and thoughts out of your head and recorded will get your head into the project. Write or type without judgement for 10 mins and you just never know how your thinking about this project will evolve.

Some of what you capture in this step will likely inform the next step.

3. Tasks

The definition of a project is that it will require more than a single task to be completed in order to achieve the outcome. So take 5 mins and start noting the key tasks - ideally prefixing each new task with a verb so you can picture yourself doing it.

You’ll very possibly put these in a different sequence, and some of them will require sub tasks. You’ll likely find that adding more rather than less detail at this step, is immensely rewarding.

Once you have sequenced the steps you’ll know exactly what needs to be done first (then next).

4. Resources

Most projects will require accessing some informational resource, in order to complete certain tasks. Having these at hand when you need them is key to enabling you to focus on and progress the project whenever you spend time working on it.

If you put in 15 mins and gather the first of these resources, you’ll have a head start and not be wasting time finding them later. You’ll be able to get and stay focussed and achieve more, with minimal distraction or context switching.

You will likely find yourself adding more resources over the course of the project.

5. Keep coming back

Be sure to either schedule time to work on this new project, or have it as part of a bundle of projects with the same level of importance and urgency, so it shows up and can be chosen when the time is right to work on it next.

How it might look in CORA

If you are using CORA and spent the 30 mins or so required to capture all this, you will now have all need to know about the project in a single page. The properties (like the Followup date) will ensure it floats to the top in a timely fashion, and having the links to relevant resources at hand, will allow you to focus and take action to move the project along.