The Zen of Project Planning ImageIf you are a mom, I can safely assume you have a lot of things you need to do.  I can also assume you can get pretty overwhelmed, trying to keep everything organized and figure out just exactly what you need to do to get each project done.

I can assume these things, because I am a mom and I feel exactly this way all.the.time.

I figured out early on in my parenting career I needed to approach my project planning a different way once I had kids.  I was feeling frazzled and overwhelmed and I wanted to feel in control and well…zen.


What is zen and how does it relate to project planning??

According to the Urban Dictionary: Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind. Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts.

I need to drop some illusions about my new reality as a mother and see things without distortion of what I “should’ be doing or how much I should be getting done.


I realized 3 things about project planning with kids:

  • First, I had to break down all of my projects into the smallest possible component so I knew exactly what had to be done to get a project completed.
  • Second, I had to assign a time to each task on the list and then add up the time so I had a better understanding of how long the project was going to take me.
  • Third, I had to use my calendar to know exactly how much time I had available, so I knew exactly how much time I had for my project and when it was going to be done.


Let’s look at these steps a little more closely to see how you can get zen with your project planning


Step One: Break Your Project Down

Brainstorm all the tasks that need to be done to complete your project.  Break each task down into the smallest possible component of each task. Think about all the things you need to research, buy, organize, and do.


Step Two: Figure Out How Much Time Your Project Will Take

Next to each task, write down (in minutes,) how long the task will take to complete. You can also use this space to limit the amount of time you spend on a specific task, like only 20  minutes on Facebook or only 25 minutes researching party decorations on Pinterest.  Try to break all your tasks into 60 minute or less chunks.  Then add up the total amount of time you need to complete your project.


Step Three: Figure Out How Much Time You Have

Look at your calendar (I like to use a week view).  Make sure you have all you set appointments and schedules listed, then highlight or circle the time you have available to  work on your project.  Add up the total time you have available.


Get Zen

Comparing the time to need from step two to how much time you have available in step three will give you an idea how long it will take you to finish your project.  Like the definition of zen, this will allow you to seeing things without distortion.

For example if your project will take 4 hours, but you only have a hour free this week, it isn’t reasonable to think you’ll get it done by the weekend.  You end up feeling un-productive and discouraged and certainly not zen, but you really didn’t have a chance to finish it anyway. Instead if you have an hour free each week and you have your project broken down into manageable chunks, you can project you’ll finish the project in a months time.  You can assign each step of your project to a specific place on your calendar, just like you would another appointment.

When you get to the end of the month, you’ll have your project done and you’ll feel more productive and accomplished!

Your turn!  Spend 10 minutes brainstorming out your next big project, estimate how long your project will take and consult your calendar to see how much time you have available.  Now you can move forward with your plan with a productive, accomplished and zen state of mind.