Use a Visual Timeline Chart to Plan Projects

It's easier to complete projects with many people if you use a visual timeline to coordinate tasks. Get-It-Done Guy shares his simple, yet effective strategy.

Stever Robbins,
January 7, 2014
Episode #296

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If one task must precede another, like creating blueprints before building out an office, make sure the “create blueprints” task line is entirely to the left of the “build-out office” line. If there isn’t room in the calendar for the tasks to fit, you may not have enough time scheduled for your project.

Start by Working Backwards

Now we work backwards. Europa must do the build-out before the store opens. It will take a month, assuming good blueprints. On Europa’s line, we draw a horizontal line from the “store opens” date back one month.

Blueprints must be done before Europa starts the build-out. On Bernice’s line, we draw a horizontal line from the start of “do build-out” back two months. Blueprints will take two months, because Bernice carefully calligraphs every letter in the blueprint. “It’s not just a blueprint,” she says, “it’s a beauty-print.”

Before the blueprints can be done, Melvin must decide on the inventory. We draw a horizontal line from the start of “create blueprint” back two months. It takes Melvin two months to choose the inventory because otherwise, the text doesn’t fit in the diagram in this episode’s transcript showing what all this will look like.

The last task that needs to go on the project plan is Melvin actually ordering the inventory. That can be done any time after choosing the inventory, but before the store opens. We draw a horizontal line from the end of “choose inventory” all the way to “store opening” to show the inventory can be ordered at any time.

A Little Planning Saves Lots of Time

Here’s what the timeline looks like:

GANNT chart

Next time you have a project that involves coordinating several people with different tasks, spend a few minutes with a timeline. Identify which tasks have to happen before others, and map it out visually so you can see what has to get done when so that the whole project comes in on time. A little planning up front can save oodles of time later. And you’ll need the extra time, because you never know when the Audrey 2s will begin to get restless.

If you have questions about how to Work Less and Do More, e-mail your question to getitdone@quickanddirtytips.com,

Group meeting image courtesy of Shutterstock.


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