Managing Projects: Creatively & Productively

Project management.  It’s enough to strike fear into many a creative professional.  It conjures up images of gantt charts or spread sheets, long meetings and complicated software.


And yet the uber-detailed project planning we may aspire to may not even be the best way after all:  too much planning can actually be a bad thing!


It is more important to be ultra-agile than to be over prepared. For day-to-day projects, we should think in terms of 20% planning and 80% regular management, re-alignment and steering.

 The 5 Milestones Model of Projects

Avoid the temptation to overcomplicate your projects. The five-milestone model of projects is all you ever really need:


Establishment is getting your resources lined up and deciding what the overall project will look like. It’s the act of communicating what you think or jointly agree are the milestones to aim for and delegating the responsibility for each stage of the project to the relevant people.


Underway is really just checking the direction of travel. I often use this as a way of creating an opportunity or excuse for me or someone else to check on the progress of the first few days of the project or on the first few actions that have taken place.


How will you know that you’re on the home straight towards completion? Is there a halfway point to the project? The mid-way point in a project can be extremely motivating. Again, use it to check on progress and revisit the end goals to make sure what you thought was the final conclusion is still what you want to do – after all, the world has changed since you started the project!


Completion feels like the easiest to define, but so often this is the one that people get wrong. Make sure during establishment or at least as things get underway that your definition of complete is the same as everyone else’s! Define success carefully at the beginning, or your vagueness may return to haunt you!


In using this model, you can use celebration to develop opportunities for positivity, reflections, acknowledgements and learning points. Even just a short email or conversation with the main people involved can be enough to provide an important ‘thank you’ and some useful dialogue.  This should be as true if the only person working on the project is yourself as it is when there’s a whole team involved!

Graham Allcott is the founder of Think Productive – a company that runs time management workshops with a difference.  He is also the author of “How to be a Productivity Ninja” – visit

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