A project management tutorial for starting and staying on track with your redecorating projects
In Part 1 and Part 2 of Decorate Smarter! How To Create Your Decorating Project Game Plan you acquired some useful tools for managing your decorating project: a Style Guide, a Floor Plan and a Budget. Now I’ll discuss creating a Design Schedule and using your new tools to complete your project.
Creating a Design Schedule (aka To-do List) and Project Completion
When thinking about the many things you need to get done for your decorating project, nothing helps more to stay focused and not feel overwhelmed than a Design Schedule. Creating this To-Do List will allow you to break tasks down into manageable steps and reachable goals. Plus, it feels awesome to cross things off a list and exclaim “DONE!”
1. Set-up: As I mentioned in Part 2, I prefer using Excel for my spreadsheets, but you can use any spreadsheet software you are familiar with and have available, or even set this up by hand using lined paper.
*Note: If you do not have any time constraints, and want a less complicated version of this schedule (a simple task list), leave out the “Lead time” and “Deadline” columns. I would still suggest noting vendor and contractor information for future use.
2. To-Do Items:
- The easiest way to start your Design Schedule is by using your Budget line items. Notice the highlighted lines above – these are imported directly from the example Budget in Part 2. Now you will break down each line item into tasks that need to be completed, using the following categories:
- SAMPLE – get material swatches and finish samples
- PURCHASE – complete orders, and contracts, or make in-store purchases.
- INSTALL – product deliveries and installations
- Notice that in my Design Schedule I actually noted each task with it’s category, for the purpose of illustrating my point. You obviously do not need to do this but I find that it is helpful in thinking about what needs to be accomplished. Also, be specific! The more direct your schedule, the less overwhelming the project will feel.
3. Lead time and Deadline: Track product lead times and delivery dates. This is especially important if you are working within a fixed time frame (for example you need the first floor done by Grandma’s birthday bash), as discussed in Part 2.
- Figure out your lead time (the amount of time from when you place an order to when you receive the order). If you’ve done any on-line shopping you should know that if something ships in 3 to 5 days, it doesn’t mean you are getting it in 3 to 5 days. Make sure you inquire about the amount of time a company takes to process orders and actually ship something out (That is your actual lead time).
- Work backwards from your end date – If Grandma’s party is in 6 weeks from today’s date, and the lead time for the couch you want is 3 weeks, then you need to finalize your purchase three weeks from now. However, if the couch you want is going to take 3 months for delivery, you may need to reconsider, or find a temporary solution (like a slipcover).
- If you like a visual reminder of your deadlines, I would suggest setting up a Calendar. Use whatever method works best for you (Google calendar, a wall calendar, etc.) but you need to be able to look ahead (it’s best to be able to view a month at a time). If you are looking for some suggestions, read this article about two different Calendar apps that are integrated with a task list.
Let’s look at an example:
- Sample – I will need to select a fabric for my couch so obviously I need to look at some options in order to make that selection. I have decided to purchase my own material so I add “Order swatches in floral pattern” as a to-do item.
- Purchase – After selecting a fabric from the samples I viewed, I will need to finalize my order with the upholsterer. Before I can do this I will need to confirm the details of the quote I received, including how much material I need to provide. I then need to order the material from my supplier, making sure it will arrive in time for the upholsterer to begin their work.
- Install – I will need to pick-up my couch from the upholsterer once it is completed, so I need to arrange for delivery from the shop to my home.
- Deadlines – My deadline (Grandma’s Party) is scheduled for May 25th. I want to have everything done by the week before, so May 18th is the date I will be working from. If I start working backwards from that date, I can determine that I need to finalize my order by May 4th, which means I need to have my material ordered by April 24th, and my samples ordered by April 21st.
1. Use the new tools you have at your disposal to move forward with finalizing your selections (i.e., Go shopping!!). Now you can easily make decisions of whether or not a piece “fits” – Does it fit in the room (Floor Plan), Does it fit in with your style (Style Guide), Does it fit into the budget (Budget), and does it fit into your time-frame (Design Schedule).
2. Realize that you WILL hit snags along the way – the fabric you want will be out of stock or the rug you love is suddenly on back order. Don’t get discouraged. Go back to your tools, figure out your driving factor (style, size, budget, time-frame) and come up with a solution accordingly.
So now, one final Congratulations! You are are all set to create your decorating Game Plan and begin your design project. If you have any questions about this series of posts or would like further advice please feel to email me or leave comments. I look forward to hearing from you!
- How To Create Your Decorating Project Game Plan (Part 2)
- How To Create Your Decorating Project Game Plan (Part 1)