Having worked in a variety of different fields and with many different groups of people there is one thing that in hind sight makes the difference between a project going well or lots of havoc.
No matter how many times you have gone to the supermarket for food you know that you are more likely to get in and out of the store with exactly what you need if you made a list. You may find that things are on sale so you make an extra purchase or remember you need something after your list is prepared but if you take a few moments to plan before you start things always go smoother.
This is true for any project that you attempt. A small project may only need a list of things you need to buy at the store. For instance if you are going to paint that bench on your deck this weekend taking time to see if you need to buy paint or sandpaper or whatever else, making a list of what you need, then buying what you need on Friday means you planned not just on your head but on paper too.
If you are going to build a shed in your backyard that might take a few days and can’t be planned on a single piece of paper then you need to research your materials, method of building, draw up a plan on paper that has dimensions and put together a list of items to buy.
Planning will let you walk through your project before you actually do it.
Assembling a list of materials will let you make purchases at the best price and also make sure everything you need is available.
Finally making a plan that shows dimensions of lumber, hanger sizes and locations and shows all the materials you will be using will let you walk through your project on paper to make allowances for any offsets .. beams or joists that need to be moved and it will let you understand if by changing your plan slightly you might end up with a better result.
For instance lumber is sold in specific dimensions and if you stick with theses sizes you will definitely save money.
Instead of making your shed 9 feet deep and 11 feet wide you would save money, time and aggravation if you could make it 8 feet by 12 feet and use standard lumber sizes.
You would cut fewer boards which could lead to a mistake and you will have a shed that is basically the same size.
Instead of cutting lumber you will just take it off the pile and nail it.
Now there are times when you just need to build that shed 9×11 feet just because this is what will fit in the location it will set in. So planning on paper the size of every piece of wood before you get started will let you know exactly what boards need to be cut and how long they should be.
Even something as simple as taking breaks can extend projects much longer then necessary. If you plan your project correctly you can take breaks while paint is drying, concrete is being poured by someone else or drywall compound is setting up… just understanding your project will give you so much more freedom and let you understand when taking a break or staying on the job an extra 30 minute will save you 3 or 10 hours in the end.
Honestly the first step of any project should be a plan. The proportion of time that you take planning can be reduced by experience but even the best carpenter, mechanic or other craftsman will tell you that taking time to plan your methods of work, materials used and adding a timeline will get things done much faster.
In other HowTos we will cover how to make paper plans including timeline planing and budgeting.
Remember if you are not willing to take an hour or even 15 minutes before you do something .. even a tiny project.. you are likely to waste hours or days in the end.
And if you are working for yourself and you do not have a project manager on site that only runs around and makes sure things are going smoothly … then you really need to heed this advice.
People say Measure Twice Cut once… well maybe having a plan should be added to that.