Essential Planning Tools for Surface Pattern Designers and Creatives – Gantt chart template
If I am a surface pattern designer/artist, do I really need to use a Gantt chart template for my planning?
The answer is simply: Yes, you do need a Gantt chart for your planning
We, as creatives and most often, solo entrepreneurs, need to acquire the best routines to plan efficiently our working days to make them more productive.
I find this process very essential in order to keep a healthy daily workflow, as it is very easy to get lost among all the different tasks that we need to attend to in our creative business.
WHAT IS A GANTT DIAGRAM AND WHAT IS ITS PURPOSE?
A simple Gantt chart template is one of the most essential tools used in project management, for displaying projects against time.
Each activity included into the Gantt chart, will be represented by a coloured bar and its length reflects the starting date and the ending date for that project.
To give you some historical perspective, these type of planning charts were initially created by Henry Laurence Gantt around 1910 and got very popular thanks to its usefulness, so as you can see, it is a very old planning tool.
The good thing is that today we can rely on digital spreadsheets to create our Gantt chart templates and take advantage of all its automatic features to work more efficiently.
Planning Complex Projects vs Planning Tasks
For an optimal planning it is highly recommended to use a Gantt chart template to schedule complex or large projects and support it with a calendar (digitally or on traditional paper).
Calendars or planners are ideal to show in more detail all the tasks that would be included in those projects.
For example, a complex project entered in my Gantt chart template could be:
“Prepare a new online fabric catalogue”
And for this big goal we could hypothetically plan and schedule 14 days to complete it, such as in the example:
With this first part planned and organized, then in my calendar I can break down all the tasks that are involved in that big project, dividing them up into those 14 days assigned in order to achieve my goal.
These tasks could be something such as:
“Decide on the patterns to be included in the new Fabric Portfolio”.
“Create additional blenders and coordinates for my hero patterns”.
“Prepare all the fabric mockups that will show the patterns applied to”
“Prepare a new Template for the new brochure using InDesign”
So, my planning would be clearly organized, efficient and it would make sense, which will lead me to be more focussed in my work every day and therefore, be more productive.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN BENEFITS OF USING A GANTT CHART TEMPLATE FOR YOUR PLANNING?
Gantt chart templates are very useful because they will allow you to see at a glance:
-All the big projects that you need to complete
-The starting and ending dates for each one of the projects.
–When projects overlap with other projects.
So in summary, it is a tool that helps you to plan better your working time in order to successfully complete all the activities that you need to accomplish.
GANTT DIAGRAM STRUCTURE
You can find online lots of different ready monthly Gantt chart excel templates or you can create yours using a spreadsheet program.
For my planning, I have developed a specific Gantt chart template on Google sheets for surface pattern designers and creatives, that has already included rows with all the different departments involved in every creative business.
CREATIVE BUSINESS STRUCTURE
Although the purpose of this post is not diving into this matter, I need to mention it here, just to highlight some of the tasks or projects of all types that we have to perform in our creative business.
These projects and tasks can be compiled into these:
In this department we work on tasks such as designing artwork, producing templates, mockups, portfolios, research for trends, etc.
In this department we have tasks such as preparing budgets and work estimates, contacting companies, submitting portfolios, scheduling meetings, visiting design markets, attending to industry trade shows, etc
Blogging, Social Media, Advertising, Analytics, etc are typical tasks of this department
IT & APPLIANCES DEPARTMENT
Creating Backups; keeping the hardware and software always running properly; keeping the website up do date, or social media makeovers; plus buying all the office facilities and supplies are tasks that belong to this department.
Preparing all the contracts when you make a deal with a client; being on top of all the laws and regulations regarding your creative business; creating the copyrights are some of the tasks that belong to this department.
All the accounting & bookkeeping, invoicing, budget planning, etc, are tasks from this department
Tracking your products when you send them; researching new courier partnerships, etc are tasks from this department.
Developing your skills through new classes, getting new certifications, or taking yoga classes to improve your health are tasks that belong to this department.
How to use a Gantt chart Template
STEPS TO FILL IN THE GANTT
ENTER PROJECTS WITH STARTING AND ENDING DATES
After reviewing all the previous projects or tasks, basically, now we can use the Gantt Chart to include the complex projects that we are planning to complete in a month, trimester, semester or in a longer time for each department and assign them a starting date and an ending date.
In this example, I am going to continue with the same big project that belongs to the Product Department: Prepare a new online fabric catalogue .
The Gantt chart will give you automatically the real number of working days to complete that big goal and it will display the coloured bar for those days.
For this project, it shows that I have 14 working days to complete it.
ENTER DAILY TIME PERCENTAGE
The following data we need to enter is the initial daily time percentage that we consider we need to work on each project, in line with its importance.
When you enter this data, the Gantt will automatically give you the daily hours that you should work on that project in order to complete the planning successfully on time.
For example, I have estimated that preparing a new online fabric catalogue will need a big chunk of my time, therefore I have initially entered a 60%.
So, my Gantt is telling me that in order to complete this project, I should work 5 hours per day on it.
This planning is quite good, actually, especially if I bear in mind all the different tasks that are included into this big project which I listed previously, remember?
Well, if I already have another projects scheduled in the Gantt chart, I can always adjust the percentages, especially those days when the projects overlap, according to my needs.
DISPLAY DIFFERENT CALENDAR VIEWS
There is an option that I have entered in my Gantt chart that will give you a precise view on a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly basis of your planning, adjusting automatically the blue bars, as it is shown in the next example:
As the days go by, the Gantt chart will show the percentage of the planning progress, until it is fully completed.
When a project is finished, the status column will show COMPLETED and in the meantime it can display IN PROGRESS or NOT STARTED.
As this is a spreadsheet document we can use filters for different criteria, helping us tremendously in our planning.
WORK SCHEDULED FOR THE CURRENT DAY
There is also an additional feature that I have included in this Gantt chart template, that it is a dynamic table which gives you the work scheduled for the current day and the numbers of hours involved.
With this information, you can again make adjustments to your daily planning according to your needs.
In the video below, you can see how it works in depth with all its features.
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