While you might not think of the terms project management and simple living in the same breath, I believe that lessons learned from the field of project management can be very helpful in helping achieve simple living.
I have long believed that many sophisticated methodologies are really simple at their core. One has to wonder if they only became complex to provide a business opportunity for some.
What follows are some accepted best practices that might have relevance for your life.
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
Oftentimes, PM’s (project managers) have no idea what is involved in creating the finished product so, they use the team to help deconstruct the end product into components and further break down the tasks each component requires. This allows them to assign reasonable time estimates to each of the tasks and roll them up to figure out the total time the project will require. It can also help you, by allowing you to break up a big project into small steps that aren’t so overwhelming. This allows you to budget time needed and, to tackle small chunks of a project without feeling overwhelmed.
Everything we do has risks. The important thing is to identify the risks and think about what you can do to deal with them should they come to pass. Most commonly, you can transfer the risk (you might sub-contract something out or insure against it), or mitigate the risk (by affecting the probability of the risk occurring), you could avoid the risk (by by eliminating the potential cause of the risk) or you can accept the risk. The key though is to think through what might go wrong, what is the probability (and the cost) and what will you do if the risk comes to pass.
Remember too, that risks can be good things not just bad things. They still merit review as they may affect the project outcome.
Sophisticated project management products offer easy construction of tools like GANTT charts (see the graphic for this post). But you can also easily build a similar chart to help you “manage” your projects. Using the WBS (above) you can make a simple GANTT chart. Just put time ranges on components and tasks, take account of things that have dependencies (this is what happens when something must be done before something else), and once you have completed it, you have a plan that will make it possible for you to calendar key dates and allocate time to accomplish needed tasks.
Why not try these handy tools out on just one project you are struggling with and, if it helps, let us know!