Archive for May, 2011

Simple project planning for creatives

Friday, May 27th, 2011


post it notes med

I absolutely hate to plan, but I know that, without any plan, my life is in chaos, I procrastinate and I am not productive.  So, a bit of forward-thinking can save huge amounts of time and can lead to a more successful and peaceful way of living.

So why do I resist it?

Well – mainly because when I’m in a state of creative excitement or enthusiasm, I tend to dive straight into doing stuff. I go from idea to idea, finding all sorts of cool and interesting things that make me fizzle with enthusiasm. And, before you know it, I’m in chaos. I’ve completely lost sight of what I was trying to achieve in the first place!

But one simple idea changed my life and my thinking. It was put forward by a controversial Italian economist called Vilfredo Pareto. He called it the 80/20 principle. He discovered that 80% of wealth resides with 20% of people. He also discovered that this ratio applies to most things in life, including the way you spend your time. Therefore, in time-management terms, 80% of your productivity comes from 20% of your efforts.

So – here is my SIMPLE strategy for planning a project that takes minutes, but saves masses of time and effort in the long run.

How it works:

You start the process by thinking about your end result and then work backwards – SIMPLE!

If you work best by writing down your ideas , it’s great, because it’s physical, too, which helps you to solidify your thoughts.

Ten Steps to a Well Planned Project

You will need some Post-it notes, a notepad and a pen. Use one Post-it note for each step, so you can move them around as you think through the details.

1.     Imagine that your project has been a huge success. Close your eyes and visualise or imagine what would be happening. Take time to notice what you see and hear or who is involved. Indulge in this picture for a while – have fun and enjoy any feelings that come up for you.

2.     When you open your eyes, write down anything that you remember of the imagined scene in as much detail as possible.

3.     Now write down a more specific outcome that you want to achieve. Write it as a SMART objective – i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound, eg. “I want to sell 1,000 books by June 2013” or “I want to be interviewed on Woman’s Hour by December 2012”.

4.     Next, on separate Post-it notes, write down any actions, in any order, that you need to take along the way to achieve this outcome.

5.    And now, similarly, write down any skills that you need in order to achieve the outcome.

6.    Write down the milestones that you will need to reach along the way in order to achieve the main outcome.

7. Reviewing these action steps, ask yourself whether you could delegate some of them, and, if so,, who to.

8.     Move the Post-it notes around into a logical sequence that will work towards achieving your desired outcome, ie a successful project. Add any additional steps that come to mind.

9.     On each Post-it note, write a rough date by which each needs to be done.

10.     Transfer your notes onto a simple project plan with a time line. See the example below.

Project outcome:

To complete a book and sell 1000 copies by June 2013

Timeline2011-June 2013 February 2011 March  2011 April 2011
Write a book summary Write three chapters Write three chapters
Research rival books Contact three magazines Contact radio editors
Buy writer’s handbook Send out newsletter
Research and write list of editors Send brief to ten publishers

How to wake up happy

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011


Ok, so if you resemble something that came out of Jurassic Park first thing in the morning and don’t make any conversation until after 6 cups of caffeine with sugar – you’ll probably appreciate today’s tips.

Being your own boss and working from home can be heaven and hell – depending on how you wake up first thing. It’s easy to get into terrible habits – getting up late, failing to plan, slouching through the day and then cursing yourself for not getting anything done. You then end up dreading getting out of bed and life becomes a cycle of quiet desperation – not the aim when you went self-employed!

But here’s the thing – your morning routine will have a huge impact on how you feel and what the rest of your day is like. If you’re feeling low and want some ways to wake up happier, here are some of my favourites:

  1. First thing in the morning, write down the things that you appreciate about yourself and your life. This can be anything from your warm bed, the beauty of the trees or the fact that the sun is shining. By getting in the habit of feeling grateful, your mind will start to notice more and more things that it appreciates and it will help you to move into a more relaxed and resourceful state of mind.
  2. As well as appreciation, write down your achievements, however small. By focusing on what you’re doing well, you’ll train your brain to focus on the good stuff, rather than what’s not working and this increases motivation.
  3. Finally – write down the most important thing that you want to achieve that day. If you’re starting a new business, it may be to write one blog or to make an important phone call.  You will probably do more of course, but when we are overwhelmed, we tend to become distracted by doing completely insignificant things because we’re scattered.  Focus on the one meaningful thing will help you to feel back in control.
  4. Meditate.  Creating time to connect with your higher purpose, or to simply have calm time can make a huge difference to how you feel throughout the day.  We can get some really useful insights from this inner connection.
  5. Exercise. A quick run, yoga or simply bop to some of your favourite music at home.  Choose physical exercise that you find fun, rather than something that you have to do. I love nothing more than having a dance samba marathon in my pajamas first thing!  I look ridiculous and I feel fabulous 😆
  6. Instead of caffeine, try a hot water with lemon first thing.  Rehydration helps the brain to wake up gently.
  7. Remind yourself of what’s really important and keep focused on the big picture and what you’re doing it for.






Nicky Moran Empowering Creatives

Stoke Newington, London, UK  Email:

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