5 Tips for Scheduling Long-Term Projects

Read Time: 3 minutes

Franchesca Tan

Franchesca Tan

Updated: Apr 15, 2024

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Long-term projects are vital for any business's sustained growth and innovation, but planning for them can take time and effort. The complexity of these projects often involves multiple stakeholders, varying scopes, and unpredictable market conditions, which can make long-term planning feel like navigating through a fog. 

A robust project management strategy, bolstered by effective project management software, is essential to overcome this uncertainty. It ensures that businesses of all sizes, especially those with smaller teams, can keep their projects aligned with their strategic goals.

Let's explore five ways you can schedule long-term projects.

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Planning for short-, mid-, and long-term

To effectively manage a long-term project, start by defining its scope and breaking it down into phases: short-term (a few weeks to months), mid-term (several months to a year), and long-term (a year or more). 

Use project management software to map these phases visually, setting specific goals for each. Assign owners where possible and tie the projects back to your organization's goals. 

This division makes the project less overwhelming and helps prioritize tasks, align resources where they are most needed, and adjust plans with flexibility as the project progresses.

Setting clear milestones

When setting milestones, make them specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Identify key deliverables for each phase of the project and use these as milestones. Integrate these milestones into your project management software to track progress and hold all team members accountable. Updating these milestones based on current progress will keep the project timeline realistic and dynamic.

Setting clear, achievable milestones in long-term projects is essential for maintaining momentum and ensuring every team member is aligned with the project's trajectory. Milestones act as motivational signposts, offering tangible evidence of progress and helping to keep morale high. 

Regularly reviewing progress

Establish a routine schedule for reviewing project progress, such as weekly or bi-weekly meetings, depending on the project's length and complexity. During these reviews, update the project's timeline in your project management software to reflect real-time progress and challenges. 

Use these project meetings to engage team members in problem-solving and brainstorming sessions, ensuring everyone remains committed to the project's success and is clear on adjustments made to the plan.

These reviews are a form of contingency planning, offering a proactive approach to managing the unforeseen challenges that inevitably arise. By embedding regular review points into your schedule, you ensure your project remains adaptable and on course.

Allocating buffer time for unforeseen delays

Incorporating buffer time into your project schedule is a pragmatic approach to contingency planning—plan buffer times by first estimating the duration of each task. Then, add a percentage of that time as a buffer. For instance, if you expect a task to take ten days, adding two days as a buffer can help absorb any unforeseen delays. 

Mark these buffers clearly in your project plan so they don't get allocated elsewhere inadvertently. This planning helps maintain the project's flow without the pressure of tight deadlines that might otherwise lead to rushed and subpar outcomes. This foresight allows your team to absorb the impact of delays without compromising the overall timeline or objectives.

Providing time for the team to work on long-term projects

One of the most significant challenges in managing long-term projects is ensuring that day-to-day operations stay within project goals. Allocating dedicated time for your team to focus on the project is crucial. 

Use online calendars and scheduling tools like Doodle to pencil in regular "project work" blocks on everyone's calendars. During these blocks, minimize distractions by holding calls and emails unless they are urgent. 

This secures time for focused work and signals to the team that the project is a priority, deserving undivided attention during these periods. Such an approach ensures that long-term objectives aren't lost in daily tasks and that your team can make substantial, focused progress.

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How Doodle can facilitate long-term project scheduling

Doodle simplifies the complexities of scheduling and managing long-term projects. With products like Sign-up Sheets, Group Polls, Booking Page and 1:1s, Doodle provides the tools to schedule meetings efficiently, set milestones, and ensure dedicated project time, facilitating better resource allocation and contingency planning. 

Doodle helps keep your project on track so you can meet milestones effectively and efficiently.

Your long-term projects don't just stay on schedule—they thrive.

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