So far in this series, I have outlined my classic “boom and bust” cycle of working, and I have already discussed Step 1 in more detail. Now, it is time to move on to the next step, Step 2 – Plan the Scope Too Wide.
Successful projects have a solid plan. This is a fact. Without a stated goal, projects become nebulous, and almost impossible to complete. This plan is the scope of the project, detailing what the purpose of the project is, how much it will cover, and how it will be implemented.
However, planning is easy, and in many cases, it can be fun. The drawback to this is that it can often lead to the scope of the project becoming too wide. This results in a lack of focus, and as such, many of the same problems occur that would occur if you lacked a solid plan in the first place.
The scope is there to define boundaries to the project, so that you can focus on what is important, and not get sidetracked into other issues, decisions, ideas, and topics. In turn, this allows you to get projects completed quickly and efficiently, preventing you from wasting time doing things that could be used to finish up your project on time.
Ultimately, the narrower the scope, the more focused your project will be, and the quicker it can be completed. Completing a project is the starting block for a successful project. After all, an abandoned project is typically an uncompleted project, and thus unable to become a successful project.
A good scope is simply a set of boundaries that allows you to focus on a single given topic easily until it is completed. This largely depends upon the resources that you have available, your working patterns, and the current circumstances in your life. A single writer on their own project will normally work better with a narrower scope than a team of 5 people, for example.
It is often tempting to try and cater for success with your projects by trying to cater for everyone, but this is often a futile task that will undermine your project instead. Likewise, it can be enticing to plan for a project to last weeks, months, and even years, often without regard to what such a commitment actually means for your scope.
In general, shorter, narrower scopes are best, and have the most chances of succeeding. More importantly, wider scopes can often be broken down into narrower scopes, making them more manageable, and more flexible.
I am consistently making my scope too wide to be effective, and as such, despite having what I considered to be a good plan, I actually had a nebulous one due to a lack of concrete boundaries that suited my purposes and resources.
I am an advocate of the Gamer Lifestyle program created and supported by Johnn Four of Roleplaying Tips, but this method does have a few flaws for someone like me. It requires dedication and commitment, and actually advocates planning wider scopes, before tunnelling them down to a bunch of more specific, narrower scopes, which then become tasks that need to be done.
This is ideal if you are a very organised, capable multitasker with enough time and resources to handle the relevant tasks and the upkeep they require. After all, the Gamer Lifestyle is advocated for individuals that wish to become both Games Designers and Entrepreneurs, since a big part of the program involves setting up and maintaining your own business to publish, sell, and market your own work.
Unfortunately, I am not that good a multitasker – I simply don’t have the resources or capability to maintain such extensive upkeep on a simultaneous number of different fronts. Instead, I am much better at focusing on a single task, getting it to completion, and then moving onto the next.
As such, I am better suited to using a narrow scope, to allow me to isolate a single task at a time. That means I am much more likely to complete my individual tasks, and thus more likely to result in more successful projects. Just as wider scopes can be broken down into narrower scopes, smaller completed tasks can build up into larger completed tasks, and eventually into whole completed projects.
An example of using such a process of narrowing your scope to individual tasks, and then using these tasks to build up to more complete projects can be seen in this very series.
What I have done so far is to plan the scope for this article series – I am looking at my “boom and bust” cycle, which contains six steps. As such, I can break this series down into six articles. Adding an introduction and conclusion to this series, means that I have a scope of eight articles, each of which has been clearly defined in a narrower scope. By completing each of these articles, it can build up into a complete series, and thus a complete project.
Since each article is being published on this website, I can focus on writing each article up individually, direct to the website. Once done, I can add in links and artwork. It is a fairly simple process, but the scope of each task is quite narrow, and thus more likely to be completed.
My scope doesn’t currently include any plans to support or propagate this series. These tasks are beyond the scope of this project, but could easily become the scope for later projects, be it a retrospective of this series in a year from now, or writing a guest article related to this series for other websites, like Roleplaying Tips. Alternatively, I could compile this series into a free PDF for people following the Gamer Lifestyle. There are a lot of options that I could take in the future, but they are just that – in the future. I will never get to any of them if they become the focus, and get in the way of completing this project right now.
Speaking of now, it is time to practice what I preach, and bring this article to a close. I have finished this article, and have discussed the issues of Step 2. Next time, I will be looking at Step 3. Until then, stay AWESOME!