Planning a big project

Planning a big project is always a challenge, especially for those of us with executive function issues. Most ADHDers are so “planning averse” that they just dive right in. Occasionally this works, but most of the time it results in a variety of mis-steps, including: 

  • avoiding starting because there isn’t a clear beginning middle or end,
  • not finishing on time, 
  • not finishing at all, 
  • inconveniencing other due to the project being “in process” when it shouldn’t be, 
  • having to redo things that weren’t done correctly, 
  • realizing that the project is beyond one’s capabilities, 
  • wasting time
  • wasting money
  • making a mess
  • not leaving time to clean up
  • and general inefficiency 
Of course there are things you can’t plan for, but I’ve found that most of life requires a good deal of planning. I always think about the invasion of Normandy by the Allies. That assault was planned down to the smallest detail for over a year. In fact they even planned for the exact time of day, tides and weather. The landing was almost put off for an additional day due to cloud cover. (Apparently it lifted just in time.)

Not that any of us are invading Nazi held France. But, on a smaller scale, we have our own D-Days. My current project is the updating of my office, our dining room, living room, and front entryway. I’ve been going a room at a time this summer with painting etc. Now it’s time to think about electrical, scraping the popcorn ceiling, and refinishing the floors. I was hoping to get all this done before the week after labor day. But, things haven’t been as light as I thought they would be work and family -wise this week. So, I was literally lying awake at night, stressed about when/if I would get all this done. 

The key is that I didn’t know exactly how long it would take me to do all this stuff because I hadn’t really planned the details yet. As it turns out, this stuff is going to take me far longer than I thought. It’s absurd to try to do it before labor day. I now know this because I did the following:
  1. Break down all the tasks into all their constituent steps by making a really detailed mind map. I’m sharing it with everyone here: Or the picture should take you there as well.
  2. I put all the tasks in order so I had a sense of what needed to come first.
  3. I estimated time for all the steps and added up the things that needed to happen in single day. 
As it turns out, I need three straight days to tackle the ceilings and the floors. So, I game planned with my wife and have that scheduled for my off week in Sept with wiggle room figured in and a whole month to finish planning it.

Incidentally, when we bought our house and move in was the last time a made as extensive a mind map for anything personal in nature. D-Day doesn’t come too often, but this skill set in microcosm has helped me much over the years.

Note: I’ll take a screen grab of a section of the mind map just in case the link doesn’t work for everyone.

Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. An imperfect post completed is better than a perfect post that goes unposted.

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