This is my project planning system on macOS and iOS. I use these apps to plan projects within the context of a personal productivity system based around the Getting Things Done (GTD) approach. When planning a project, I use these tools in the following sequence:
1. Task Management System
Project planning starts with a task management system. On macOS and iOS, the best app I’ve found for this purpose is OmniFocus. This is where I create a project and manage tasks for the project, including the project startup tasks.
I’ve spoken more about task management in Episode 191 of The Voluntary Life:
2. Project Documentation
As I start working on a project, I generate notes and graphics which need a home. The second tool in my planning system is my project documentation. I use Evernote on macOS and iOS for project documentation.
I explain my use of Evernote for reference material in Episode 120 of The Voluntary Life Podcast:
Once I have a project page in place, I begin to get into the detail of planning the project. The app that I find most helpful in organising my thoughts is a mind map. I do a brain dump and get everything out of my head into a mind map in a fairly unstructured way. As the mind map grows, I order and rearrange ideas on it, categorising different aspects of the project that I need to work on and issues that I need to resolve.
Episode 186 of my podcast has more detail on how I use mind maps in project planning:
4. Process Map
A process map is like a more rigorous and evolved version of the mind map. Whereas a mind map just has everything branching off from a single topic with no further structure, a process chart adds in the sequencing and logic of a project. I use InShort to create my process maps. For more detail about process maps see TVL Episode 205:
5. Gantt Chart
Once I have created a process chart, I can add in task durations and start times and create a Gantt chart within InShort. I find this process a bit tricky in InShort, but I haven’t yet found a good alternative app for it.
A Note On Project Planning Versus Project Management
This workflow is great for a single user doing project planning, but I use different tools for collaborative project management work. That will be a subject for a future post.