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AP 0662: What Process Do You Use for Planning Projects?

AP 0662: What Process Do You Use for Planning Projects?

By Pat Flynn on

AskPat 662 Episode Transcript

Pat Flynn: What’s up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 662 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. As always, I’m here to help you by answering your online business questions five days a week. Really quick, shoutout to all the kids who are listening to this, maybe in your parents’ car, or, I don’t know, the living room. Thanks for listening, guys. Keep up the good work—you rock.

Today, we have a question from Adam. Before we get to that, I do want to thank today’s sponsor, which is That’s a site that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses outsource or crowdsource custom graphics, logos and web design from designers around the world. Again, has more than a half million designers from over one hundred countries ready to help you with any creative and design projects you might have. Check out to learn more and get started at Again, that’s for a special VIP offer just for you. Awesome.

Thanks so much, and here’s today’s question from Adam.

Adam Spencer: Hey Pat, Adam Spencer from I’ve got a question about projects and planning. For example, when you’re coming out or putting together Will It Fly?, AskPat, FoodTruckr, or any other projects that you’re working on. What does that process look like for you? How do you plan things? How do you break them down from a really big overarching view of what you want to achieve and then break that down into little goals, what does that look like for you? What process do you follow? I’d be really interested in hearing your thoughts on that. Thanks for all the work you do Pat. I love the podcast, been listening for a long time. Keep up the good work.

Pat Flynn: Adam, what’s up? Thank you so much for the question. Adam from, everybody, if you want to check that out. Adam, this is a great question, and something only I’ve only recently started to learn how to do properly.

For the longest time it was kind of a fly-by-my-seat kind of thing, which means, hey, I think I’m going to work on this project, and you kind of just go. That’s how it starts often, because you don’t know what it’s like until you do this enough, and are conscious about what you are doing and always looking to improve and optimize. Sometimes it even takes having other people show you what to do, which is what was the case for me. Having my team members come on board, connecting with other influencers, and people in my mastermind groups who were just really good at planning it seemed that I finally was able to learn how to do this. Everybody has their own different way of actually planning these larger projects and breaking them down and what not. I’ve gone through a number of different ways of doing that. Currently it’s a team effort between myself and my project manager and my editorial manager.

My editorial manager, her name’s Janna. She has more than just a job of making sure the content gets posted on the site, she’s kind of the master planner too. I’ve picked up a lot from her. The one thing that I learned is that I always want to achieve more than is humanly possible. I think that’s just the case for most entrepreneurs.

Fun fact: When Will It Fly? came out, that was suppose to be one of four books that came out within the span of a year. That was my initial plan, I just wanted a suite of books that people could choose from, depending on what level they’re at because, Will It Fly? is obviously a very beginner level. After putting that into a spreadsheet and working backwards from what was all required to make that happen, it was very clear to see that I was only able to, or I would have only been able to accomplish one, maybe two books, during the year if I pushed. I decided to stick withWill It Fly? and just focus on Will It Fly?. Of course I’m working on courses right now and what not, which relate to that too, which if I moved onto the other books that probably wouldn’t have happened. I am glad I’m slowing down a little. That’s the first thing.

Secondly, though, it all depends on when I want these things to be done by. That’s what’s the main factor that starts everything. When is the thing suppose to be out there in peoples hands? That’s variable number one. Variable number two is, what do we want to put in it? Variable number two is, what is it? How does it work? What’s inside of it? What all needs to be included? That’s variable number two. And then variable number three is cost.

You can any one of those variables. If you image a triangle and each of those variables are on one of those points, you can have one of them be the one that matters most. The others fluctuate based on that. If you want something to come out at a certain time, you might need to compromise on how much content is in it, or what the quality is like, or you might need to increase the cost of whatever it is that you’re doing, or hire people out which will increase the cost, so you can see how that works. Maybe the fixed thing is the cost, in which case maybe the time is the thing that needs to wait a little longer, and you need to delay things. These are again things that can all … if you imagine this triangle, and it kind of morphs and changes and stuff.

For me, it’s the fixed date, and that is something I chose because I know that I am most motivated when I have a specific date when something is suppose to come out. That’s what it takes for me to figure how to break it down. Everything that happens before that, if it’s broken down into weeks, maybe months. Will It Fly? was a month by month kind of thing. By this month I needed this to happen, by this month I needed this draft to be done, by this month I needed the artwork to be done or the cover … breaking it down. It’s an organic process, but it starts—at least for me—with the end in mind, and the date. Working backwards from there is, what needs to be included, and then it’s putting those things into a calendar. Literally looking at a yearly calendar for those especially larger projects to see when certain things are suppose to be done. Then, because I don’t know everything, I work with my team or some other people to say okay, here’s the plan so you create a very skeletal … start with the end date work backwards, here’s all the moments and milestones that need to happen. Then, I share it with people. That’s huge because a lot of times other people will see things that I cannot. Again, like is said, I’m not perfect at any of this so, I need help. I’m not afraid to reach out for help. That’s one thing I learned ever since I’ve started. I can do things much faster and better if I simply put my guard down, my pride away, and I just ask for help. In the beginning that was so hard for me to do. It is so pertinent as an entrepreneur to go out there and ask for help when you need it, to understand what your weaknesses are and find help to fill in those gaps. That’s what it looks like. It’s all … initially it started with pen and paper back in the day. It kind of worked in the same way, working on my end date and working backwards, and creating a task list of things that needed to happen, and putting dates to each of those things. That’s what helped me get up in the morning, because I know- not on a day by day basis, but typically on a week by week basis, what needs to be done.

I’ve tried to do the day by day thing … breaking down, you have a year … you want to write a book in a year. I don’t break it down day by day because it can often feel incredibly overwhelming, you get behind, everyday is different. Plus, with two kids, and that sort of thing, some days you have a lot more time than others. I don’t ever say, by today, for this larger project I want this thing done. I just have a list of tasks I know I need accomplish by the end of the week, and if I have time in the front of the week I’ll work my butt off to get those things done, knowing I have not much time in the second half of the week, or vice versa.

Adam, hopefully that helps you at least wrap your head around my thinking behind all of this. Looking at the yearly calendar, I bought a yearly calendar that is all in one sheet. It’s quite large, it’s laminated so I can write with a dry-erase marker. Putting in dates of certain things, and color coding different projects, that helps me see what’s overlapping, that helps me understand okay, well this is a little too close to this, so I’m going to move this apart from each other. I got this from Amy Porterfield and a few other people. They use these large yearly calendars. All laminated, all on one page. You can get them at paper stores or craft stores, or whatever sometimes. My gosh, it has changed everything, because now I see this bird’s eye perspective of what’s going on in my business, in the upcoming months. I can look at my week to week and see what tasks I need to accomplish. That’s that.

Adam, thank you so much for the question. I appreciate it. We’re going to send you an AskPat T-shirt for having your question featured here on the show. For those of you listening, if you have a question that you would like potentially featured here on the show, you know what to do. All you have to do is head on over to You can ask right there on that page. I appreciate it. Please keep asking the questions. Thanks so much, I appreciate you for taking the time.

Here’s a quote to finish off the day by Mr. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook: “I think that people just have this core desire to express who they are, and I think that’s always existed.” That’s such an interesting quote. In what you do, are you giving people an opportunity to express who they are?

Thanks so much for listening in. I appreciate you. I look forward to serving you in the next episode of AskPat. Hey, really quick, if you listened to this episode, you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes. I don’t ask for them very much, but every little bit helps. I appreciate it; thanks. Look up AskPat on iTunes, leave an honest review. I appreciate you. Bye.

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