Starting a new creative project is always exciting—it's a fresh start, a blank slate, and an opportunity to create something really impactful! It's easy to get swept away by those feelings and dive right into the project, but that's not always the best move for the ultimate success of your project. How many times has this happened to you— you're working on a project, everything's going smoothly, and then all of a sudden, you realize you've backed yourself into a creative corner, so to speak.
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Once you get stuck on a project, getting unstuck can be really difficult—sometimes so difficult that it's better just to scrap the project and start afresh. Project planning is the key to keeping your creative ventures on track, and in this article we'll cover everything you need to be successful, including:
-Resources for creating a project planning document
-How to plan a creative project
-Ways to jumpstart your creativity in case of an inspiration emergency
Online tools make it easy to organize and share your creative projects.
Online Content Collaboration Tools for Planning Your Next Project
Before we get too far along—you can't just keep your project plan in your head, so how are you going to record it?
Of course, you have plenty of options—like good ol' fashioned pen and paper and word processors to name a few. However, the creative process often involves some degree of collaboration. Whether your creative project is a collaborative one from the beginning or you simply anticipate sharing your work to get feedback later on, choosing an online content collaboration platform makes sharing your plan a breeze.
When you select a platform, it pays to shop around. Compare features to make sure your online content collaboration platform has everything you'll need. Some even come with awesome features like a built-in project planning template, so make sure you do your research!
Every great project plan contains a few key elements—make sure your plan has everything it needs to keep your creative project on track.
The Anatomy of an Awesome Project Plan
Every great story has a good beginning, solid middle, and satisfying ending. Similarly, there certain elements that every great project plan should include. To keep your creative project on track, your project plan should include:
- Summary box
- To-do list
Depending on the nature of your creative work, your project planning document can get pretty long. To keep you (and anyone else you might invite to work on your creative project) sane, include a table at the top of the document summarizing the most basic information about the project. This way rather than digging through pages of detailed work to find the piece of information you need, you will know exactly where to find it.
A summary box should include:
- Description. In 2-3 sentences, what is your project all about? What are you trying to accomplish?
- Status. How far along is your project? Whether you are still in the planning stages, working through the phases in your plan, or done, make sure you keep a brief status in the summary box for reference.
- Team. If you're collaborating with other creators, working with business professionals to get your work out into the world, or otherwise working with different people, create a list. Defining clear roles in the summary box will help keep you organized and avoid confusion later on, especially if you are working with a big team.
- Related. As your project evolves, it will definitely include more files than just your project planning doc. This is another reason why using an online content collaboration platform is a great idea—you can simply link to related documents in this section for easy access.
If you don't give yourself deadlines and commit to keeping them, it can be easy for your project tasks to fall into a never-ending cycle of "I'll get to it eventually." Keep your project from getting stuck by setting the kickoff date, milestones dates, and the deadline at the beginning of your creative endeavor.
Make sure when assigning dates you give yourself ample time. Unexpected things happen, so if at all possible, make sure you give yourself a little wiggle room.
That being said, it's also possible you will need to adjust your timeline later on as your project grows and evolves, and that's okay! However, giving yourself a timeline is a great way to keep yourself accountable and keep your project from losing steam.
This is the fun part of the project planning document because it's so open-ended. This section can include notes from brainstorming sessions, images and videos that inspired your project, tables, lists, and anything else that might be helpful. Include as much detail as you can to capture your vision for the project.
To Do List
This one's pretty self-explanatory. After you have decided what the milestones of your project are and clarified what you want the project to look like when it's done, it's time to break the project down into small, actionable to-dos. If you're working with a team, it's also helpful to include who is responsible for completing each to-do and making sure to-dos are organized in the order that they must be completed.
Even the best-planned projects need a boost sometimes. Get the ideas flowing again with these simple tips.
How to Get Out of a Creative Slump
No matter how well you capture your idea in a project planning document, it is sometimes difficult to keep the momentum of a project going. If you're feeling uninspired, take a little bit of time to refresh your creativity.
Try these strategies for boosting your creativity and getting back on track:
- Take care of yourself. Creative projects are emotionally and physically draining. If you're having trouble keeping the ball rolling, it may be because you need to step back and decompress before moving forward.
- Talk to people outside of the project. Sometimes all you need to get a creative project back on track is a set of fresh eyes on the problem. Grab a coffee with someone who isn't involved in the project—whether you speak directly about your work or not, sharing ideas with someone else can help give you a new perspective.
- Make a small change. If something doesn't feel right about the direction your creative project is taking, there's nothing wrong with changing the plan! Before considering a total overhaul, try making a few small changes and seeing how they affect the project. You might just find the solution you didn't know you were looking for.
How do you turn an amazing idea for a creative project into reality? Developing a thorough project plan is essential.
Jumping into a creative project is equal parts exciting and daunting, but when you create a solid project plan, it gets much easier to manage. How do you keep your creative projects organized? Let us know in the comments section below!
This is a sponsored post for Dropbox. All opinions are my own.