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Hanging Christmas Lights can be a Project… Seriously?

BY: Tanya Foster

Did you know that all sorts of normal everyday activities can be projects?  We always think of these big, multi-million dollar things as projects… but in reality we start and complete projects all the time. Since it’s the holiday season, I thought we would use hanging Christmas lights as an example.  Now, you don’t have to use all five process groups since we’re just doing this for ourselves, but if you want to create a Project Charter and Scope Statement and have yourself sign it… by all means go right ahead.

We’re going to start with the planning phase for our Christmas lights project.  Plan out what type of lights you want; those great big ones? Small ones?  Icicle lights? Where are you going to put them; on the edge of the roof only? The edge of the roof and around the window panes?  The bushes and trees in the front yard?  Will our lights be on a timer?  Are we putting up that giant inflatable snow man that’s folded up in the garage that takes an hour to inflate?  I could go on and on here, but I think you get the point.  You can even create a work breakdown structure.  I highly recommend Microsoft Project for your WBS, but I know that the average Joe might not have that program handy… so you can use whatever you do have handy; Word, Excel, pen and paper work ok too.  I’ve gone ahead and created a WBS for us using Microsoft Project 2007.  Please feel free to copy this and use it at your leisure… I don’t have it copyrighted.

christmas-lights

Now we can execute our project plan.  You’ll notice that I only have two resources listed in our project, but of course you can add other resources to your project plan (i.e. your children, spouse, pets, etc.).  Our project is rather small, but some of you may do very elaborate decorations around the holidays, so your plan might be a smidge larger than this one.

We can monitor and control our plan by marking our assignments complete once we’ve finished them… although if you really have that much egg nog, you may not be able to mark much off after the third or fourth glass, just do the best that you can.  Whether your schedule finishes on time and within or under budget… again depends on the egg nog consumption.

As for closing our project, we’ll just release our resources and probably take note of our lessons learned for next year.  As for our lesson learned… don’t return Jim Bob’s ladder after that last glass of egg nog… sleep it off and return it the next day!

This was just one example of how everyday things can be projects too.  So don’t think of these little things as chores or simply a pain in the backside… think of them as project adventures that you as the mighty project manager are going to conquer!  Happy Holidays!

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