Plan the work, then work the plan. Here’s how to create a plan that works


After a lot of hard work, you’re ready to make your mark with your next project. You want to make a great first impression with your boss. Whether you’ve got big ideas to pitch or big challenges being pitched at you, execution matters.

You know that you need to communicate your ideas clearly. But you also need to communicate your ability to execute on them and rally the resources to help. That starts with demonstrating that you have a solid grasp of the nature, size, and complexity of the project.

So before you change the world, think about your approach. Are you following a known methodology? Your manager will need specifics, everything from your project timelines to a high-level action plan. (And, eventually, a detailed action plan.)

In short, you’ll need a work plan — a roadmap for accomplishing your work goals. Whether you want to streamline your team’s workflow, build a new app, or put on the event of the century, a strategic plan will take you there.

Look at What’s Not Working

When you’re figuring out how to make a life plan, it helps to know what you want to change, and in what areas of your life. Here’s where it helps to get out a journal and assess different areas of your life. This can be in list form, narrative form, created like a mind map, or in another format, but should cover the areas of life that are most important to you. For most people, that means a job, family, wellness, finances, other areas of stress, and even home environment. Think about what your values are in life, and assess how those areas of life are currently working for you.

When you’re making a life plan, you should work around your values–what’s important to you, and what you hope to maintain in your life. Do you value family, but find yourself spending too little time with your family because you’re working overtime at a job you hate? Do you value fitness, but find yourself watching too much t.v. instead? Oftentimes, people include activities in their lives that have little value to them without realizing it. To be sure you’re spending your time wisely, assess what you value the most in life, and pay attention to how you actually behave around the expression of these values in your real life; be sure you include activities that fulfill those values.

Look at the Future

As you make a life plan, it helps to plan not only months into the future but for years. Looking at your values and thinking about how you want the next few months, year, and five years to be (even up to ten years!) and then working backward can really clarify what next steps will bring you a payoff, and can help you decide where to put your time. For example, if you want to be working in a new field, maybe now is time to make connections and look for work experience that you can gain in your off-hours; you can take small steps to build up for a bigger change in the future.

Looking at where you’d like to be, and at where you are now, you can break down the path from “here” to “there” into small, manageable steps that you can more easily take. This way, you can more easily experience successes that can sustain your motivation, can look at where you may need to change your plan as you go, and can consistently put one step in front of the other and move forward. (See this for more on setting goals.)

Press Play for Advice On Dealing With Perfectionism

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring Peloton instructor Ally Love, shares how to focus on progress instead of aiming for perfection. Click below to listen now.

Tips to Write an Action Plan


ProjectManager can help you build your action plan and then execute it. Collect all your action steps tasks on our list view, which does more than light-weight to-do list apps. Unlike them, we can prioritize action items, customize tags and show the percentage complete for each task. Our cloud-based project management software gives you real-time data to help you create an action plan and stick to it.

Note Phases and Assignments

It’s important to note all the phases of the project timeline to know what action steps and tasks will take place, and when. You’ll also want to set roles and responsibilities to ensure the work is carried out properly.

Track Progress

Once you start the project, you’ll need to chart the progress of the work being done. This leads us to the timeline, where you’ll have a start and due date for each of your tasks, as well as how long you plan for it to take, so you can use this as a baseline and make sure you’re staying on target. You can make your project timeline on a Gantt chart.

Note Resources

Finally, your action plan will list resources. Who is responsible for which task, and what materials are involved? What are those costs? You also should have a section in the action plan for notes that don’t fall into any of the other categories. ProjectManager has resource management features that allow you to allocate resources for each action step and task of your action plan.

How ProjectManager Can Help Your Action Plan

If you’re looking to make an action plan and then take action on it by executing, monitoring and reporting on a project, then you’ll want ProjectManager. Our cloud-based project management software can import your action plan into an online Gantt chart. Now you can organize your tasks, link dependencies and set milestones. More than that you can filter for the critical path. When you’re done scheduling, set the baseline. This allows you to always see the planned versus actual progress of your project to help you stay on track. Try our tool for free today.


From there you can assign tasks and give teams a collaborative platform to comment and share relevant documents. Dependent tasks can be linked to avoiding bottlenecks, and when things change, the schedule can be easily edited by simply dragging and dropping start and end dates.


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