How to tame your to-do list with a schedule management plan
July 06, 2022
Picture this: it’s Monday morning, and your inbox is screaming out for attention. You have paperwork on your desk, the phone’s ringing, and you’ve just remembered that 10 AM meeting you aren’t fully prepared for.
You have a million things to do and no idea where to start. Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone.
A lot of people feel like they’re constantly running behind and can never quite seem to get ahead. But there is a way to fix this. It’s called a schedule management plan.
A schedule management plan is a tool to help you take control of your workload. You can use it to track deadlines, assigned tasks, and daily responsibilities. It’s also useful for creating a timeline for projects so that you can complete everything on schedule.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what it is and how it can help you and give you a step-by-step guide to creating your own. So, hit pause on the inbox, grab a coffee, and let’s dive in!
What exactly is a schedule management plan?
A schedule management plan is a document that outlines how you’ll manage your time and tasks. It includes a list of daily responsibilities and deadlines as well as a timeline for projects, so you can plan ahead.
Why is it important to have a schedule management plan?
If you’re on the fence about making a schedule management plan, here are reasons to consider it.
- It can help you take control of your time and workload. If you feel like you’re constantly running behind and can never quite seem to get ahead, a schedule management plan can help you get organized and get everything done.
- It can help you track deadlines, assigned tasks, and daily responsibilities. You’ll always know your upcoming deadlines and have ample time to prepare.
- It can help you create a timeline for projects to ensure you finish everything on time. This is especially important when working on a large project with multiple deadlines.
- It can help you better manage your budget. By tracking all expenses and income, you can get a better understanding of where money is going and how to cut costs.
- It can help with resource allocation. If you know how much time and money are budgeted to complete a project, you can better allocate resources to ensure the project finishes on time and in budget.
- Finally, it can help to improve communication between you and your team. By having a clear plan, you can avoid misunderstandings and keep everyone on task.
How to create a schedule management plan
Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating your schedule management plan.
1. Make your plan document
Before you even start to think about deadlines and resources, you’ll need to create your plan document. This is where you’ll list out all of your tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities.
To do this, you can use Microsoft Word or Google Docs, but your best bet is a project management tool like Backlog. As part of creating your plan, you’ll need to pull together lots of information, review it, and decide what needs completing and when.
So, having a single platform that can handle every step makes things a little easier. PM tools also come with ready-made templates (way easier than messing around with MS Word formatting) and tracking features that allow you to be more hands-off with your team.
With your PM tool, create a work breakdown structure (WBS) — a document that visualizes a project framework as smaller, more manageable tasks. It’s especially useful for large projects, as it can help you see the overall picture and make sure nothing is forgotten. Once you’ve created a WBS and have your schedule management plan document ready, it’s time to begin populating it.
2. Assign tasks and deadlines
The next step is to assign tasks and deadlines. For each job, you’ll need to decide who’s responsible for completing it and how long it will take. (Top tip: A project management tool can help you easily manage resources and tasks).
You can also use a Gantt chart to visualize tasks, deadlines, and dependencies. Once you’ve assigned all of the tasks and set the deadlines, it’s time to start working on your budget.
3. Create a budget
The next step is to develop a budget to track all the project expenses and avoid overspending. To create your budget, you’ll need to determine how much money you can spend on your project. Do this by reviewing internal and external funds and expenses.
Now, start listing all the project expenses, such as materials, labor, logistics, and overhead costs. Then, allocate a certain amount of money to each expense.
Finally, review your budget regularly to ensure you’re on track. This is especially important if your project spans a long period, as costs can change. Oh, and don’t forget to run this past your stakeholders.
4. Share the plan
Sharing is caring! Once you’ve created your schedule management plan, it’s important to share it with your team and stakeholders. What do they think? Does it work for them? All important questions to ask.
Get input from all involved to see if there’s anything you need to change. Getting feedback not only helps you spot things you might have missed but also increases buy-in from the wider team. If stakeholders help to shape the plan, they’re more likely to stick to it.
Make sure everyone knows the schedule and what their responsibilities are. You can do this by holding regular meetings, sending updates (via email, chat app, or your project management tool), or posting the schedule in a public place.
Read our guide to organizational communication for tips on getting everyone on board.
5. Test your plan
Once you’ve created and shared your schedule management plan, it’s time to put it to the test. Tackle one task at a time, and see how well it works. If you run into any problems, make sure to adjust your plan accordingly.
It’s also a good idea to simulate different scenarios, such as what would happen if a team member fell sick, missed a deadline, or went on vacation. Thinking through alternate scenarios will help you figure out how your plan would hold up in a real-world situation and make necessary changes. By testing your plan, you can ensure it’s effective.
6. Do the fine-tuning
Did your tests throw up any issues? If so, it’s time to make some tweaks. Adjust your schedule as needed to account for any problems you encountered.
It’s also a good idea to review your schedule regularly once you’re using it for real, even if everything is going well. This will help you to spot any potential problems and make changes before they become an issue. Plus, the more you improve your plan, the more effective it will be.
Creating a schedule management plan is an important part of project management, as it helps to keep your project on track. To make projects run as smoothly as possible, make sure you have the right tools in place. There are many moving parts in schedule management, so the more heavy lifting and admin you can hand over to the software, the better.
With Backlog, our PM tool, you can manage and allocate resources with a button, use handy task/issue templates, automatically track progress, send out updates, and more. You can also take a zoomed-in view or take the bird’s-eye approach — so, at one glance, you can see everything you need.
With full control, customization, and automation at your fingertips, you’ll never need to feel overwhelmed by a Monday morning again!