Creating a Project Plan

Project planning

Whether you want to start a recycling program, host a green fashion show, or reduce energy at your school, you’ll need to create a plan for how you’re going to execute your project. A good project plan has a few key components:

  • SMART goals
  • Roles
  • Timeline


One of the first steps to making a project plan is to set a goal. How will you know if you are successful with your event, project, or campaign? Once you’ve set your goal, check to see if it’s SMART:

  • Specific: Is your goal specific? For example, “Improve the school’s recycling program” isn’t very specific, but “Increase the school’s paper recycling rates by 10% over the spring semester” is quite specific.
  • Measurable: How will you measure your success? Is it possible and do you have the tools to be able to measure it? This could be pounds of waste reduced, number of people in attendance, total number of letters written to the editor, etc.
  • Achievable: Is your goal achievable with the people, resources, time, and skills that you have? If yes, can we go bigger? If no, what do we need to achieve it?
  • Relevant: What makes this project relevant for the people at our school? How is it connected to our mission as an Action Team?
  • Time-bound: Set a date for your event and work backwards, with specific dates of completion for each task to keep you on track. This will also help you decide if your goal is realistic.


Whenever you’re planning an event or project, there are likely going to be a number of tasks that need to be done. Breaking your Action Team into groups to focus on each of these needed roles can help keep all the pieces moving at once. For example, if you’re organizing an event, you might break your Action Team into these groups:

  • Budget and fundraising
  • Outreach to attendees (postering, announcements, emails, etc.)
  • Outreach to the media (newspapers, radio, etc.)
  • Logistics (getting permission, finding space, getting food, gathering materials, etc.)
  • Outreach to speakers, performers, workshop leaders, etc.


Creating a timeline for each of these different groups and then putting it all together into one timeline will help you see how the pieces fit together and whether or not you’re being realistic with the task you’ve set in front of yourselves. Here are some tips for creating a group timeline:

  • Create a big calendar on the board with all the weeks from now until the end date for your project or event.
  • Break your Action Team into groups based on the roles they will play in the project. Give each group a piece of paper.
  • Each group should work backwards from the end date and plan what they will need to do to prepare their piece of the event or project.
  • Based on their plan, each group should write their weekly goals on Post-It notes.
  • Call on each group and have them put their Post-Its on the appropriate spot on the big calendar.
  • As a big group, look at the full timeline together: Do you need to adjust some of your deadlines? Did you forget anything?
  • Add anything that’s missing and move the Post-It notes around until you have a timeline that looks complete and realistic.
  • When you’re done, take a picture and have your notetaker write up the timeline and send it out with your notes. Use this timeline to help create your agenda for each meeting to keep the project on track.