For those of us who love our jobs, this could be titled “Mixing Pleasure with Pleasure.” Job satisfaction aside, what I’m talking about is how to use the same LiquidPlanner workspace to schedule both work projects and personal items.
The subject recently came up when talking with a friend and LiquidPlanner customer, Gigi (names have been changed to protect the innocent). Gigi has a graphic design business. She uses LiquidPlanner to set up her work each week, and to make sure that she doesn’t over-commit her time, or provide false estimates to her clients. She is so enamored of how well-organized her business is, that she wants to know how to include her personal tasks and errands in the same workspace as her business projects.
How to set up the workspace
Helping her model this was pretty easy. Here’s a screen shot of how we structured GiGi’s workspace, beginning with a mixture of packages and project folders:
Here’s why we organized her workspace this way:
- The priority packages are at the top, organized by week, to prioritize a week of tasks at a time.
- The priority packages all have deadlines on them so that it’s super easy to tell if there’s room for adding more work that week. (See how the week of the 18th is practically full, but the next week still has some room?)
- The bottom three packages (Active, Pending, and Personal) are organizational packages that sort out her various projects.
- Note that both the Pending and Personal Projects packages are “on hold” (see the pause-button graphic to the left of each package). This prevents them from being scheduled even though the tasks may have estimates.
Next, we add the personal items
Now that you’ve got the basic structure down, here’s how we weave Gigi’s personal tasks into her work projects. (Of course, your version, will be a bit different.)
The image below shows an expanded view of the package for the second week (March 11-15):
- You can see that it’s loaded up with individual tasks from her various active business projects (Spec Project, Write site copy) and her personal task items (caulk tub, buy new shoes, etc.).
- Note that the work tasks have schedule bars, but the personal tasks don’t.
- As I mentioned in the first example, deadlines are attached to each of the priority packages. This way LiquidPlanner will immediately notify Gigi when she’s put more work in than can be done in a given time frame, based on her estimates and availability settings.
- Each week the goal is to empty out the priority packages. This means that the tasks either get marked done, or they get moved down to the next week if there wasn’t time to complete them. Once the package is empty, the package itself can be marked done. (This is very similar to how some of our agile dev customers use sprint packages!)
Make sure the professional tasks stay center stage
Since the personal tasks aren’t paying the bills, it’s not mandatory that they are worked on during business hours. Gigi doesn’t want her personal tasks to take time out of her billable availability within the LP tool. The schedule bars on the work tasks, seen creeping towards the deadlines each week, help keep Gigi on track and delivering to her customers on time.
How the personal stuff fits in
The personal tasks, while listed in plain sight, aren’t scheduled. They might be tackled during the evenings, before work, or on a lunch break. However, because of ranged estimates, Gigi might finish a project early, have a little extra time on her hands, and finds she can sneak in that shopping trip to Road Runner Sports before the 5 pm rush. And oh, the glorious satisfaction of marking those personal items done when complete!
And if they don’t get done, c’est la vie – drag-and-drop ‘em, and move them to next week’s package!
Liz Rosen is LiquidPlanner’s Customer Support & Adoption Manager.