How to Determine Project Size

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to plan. How can we really determine what size our project actually is? How long will it take to get the actionable pieces (a.k.a. chunks) going towards getting those projects done?

And then there are the time horizons. When you first dig into Momentum planning, you might wonder which time horizon to start off with: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or Quarterly? 

Luckily, there’s no “right” answer to these questions. It really depends on you, and what your needs are. 

You can try to whittle things down by mapping out your top projects. Once you know which projects you want to focus on, you can decide if the projects you have in mind are week-sized, month-sized or longer. 

Start by compiling your project list (pro tip: keeping the list to no more than five). 

We’ll wait. ⌛

Okay, now that you have your projects in mind, ask yourself: 

  1. What are the main elements of the project?
  2. How long will it take to take specific actions to drive the project forward? 

This is tied to the process required for chunking down your projects

What we need to do now is convert this vertical list of To-Dos into a horizontal, time-based plan.

There will be small hiccups along the way when you start. Making chunk sizes too big, forgetting some projects or chunks, not seeing how they link together, and putting them in the wrong sequence, are all a part of the learning process. 

Think of this exercise like putting a LEGO set together, with pages missing from the instructions, and some pieces you can't see because they're hidden behind others. If you're planning effectively, you'll be reworking your plan multiple times. 

The project/chunk dump 

Now we move on to a dump of all the chunks of the project(s) you have on deck that you can think of. During this phase, don't worry about what size the chunk is. It's not necessary to think about the 15-minute tasks of the project, but if they come to you, don't fight them.

You may find it easier to mind-map your project rather than just listing out action items, but whichever technique you use, use one of your messy spaces for this part of the project. 

And leave room, as you'll be adding chunks in another pass.

Use your verbs 

When creating this mindmap of your projects (which will make up the basis for how you use Momentum) make sure you’re using specific verbs

Verbs can do a lot towards helping you determine how much a particular project chunk — and eventually the project itself — will take. 

The simplest way to create a project chunk is a verb, plus a noun. That will tell you the action that's being taken on something. 

So, "book" or "closet" or "John" is not a chunk because it's just a noun; "read book," "clean closet", or "email John" is a chunk. 

When you make chunks for a project, you’ll almost always use the same noun. The verb however will help you determine size. 

Take "Hire John" as a project. Throughout the project, the verb sequence might be “Research > Email (to Schedule) > Interview > Evaluate > Decide-On > Hire.” 

Put your projects and chunks in Momentum 

Now that you’ve figured out how to chunk your projects, and have specific action verbs for what each piece of the project will require, you’re much closer to figuring out how to determine a project’s size.

If you can estimate the amount of time needed for specific project chunks, you’ll have a good idea whether the project itself can be accomplished in a week, a month, a quarter, or a year. 

All you need to do now is plug and chug. Take your project, and if you’re estimating a month, plug it in within the Monthly planner. Then go ahead and create the project chunks within your Weekly and Daily planners. 

This is how you’ll get those longer projects to done. 

The interesting thing about planning is that your plans will likely shift as time goes on. For example, if you plan a project for a month, but it looks like it will take longer, you can always go back into the app, and readjust, pulling that project/ goal out to the Quarterly planner. Play around and see what works for you and your plans.

Looking for more tips and tricks on how to get started with Momentum? Check out our knowledge base, which includes ways you can set up the app to work for you, webinars, and more.

Mary Clare O'Donnell

Writer & Content Creator at Productive Flourishing and Momentum. She's passionate about our climate, nature, foreign languages, and discovering uncharted places.