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Getting Started

Start your project off on the right foot with this module, which helps you create your project goals and design the processes you will need to achieve them.

Setting Goals

Getting started on a new project can be both exhilarating and daunting. Even if you know what you are trying to achieve, developing SMART Goals will help ensure what you do aligns with why you are doing it!


As Napoleon Hill said, “Goals are dreams with deadlines!” So make sure that you create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals for your project.

Group (i.e. “batch”) long lists of tasks into categories for better organization.

Be sure each task is doable and will move the project forward. Create benchmarks (“staged accomplishments”) to help you track your progress. These will help you measure success and decide where you may need to modify/adjust your project plan.


S.M.A.R.T Goals: Explained

Want a quick guide to setting S.M.A.R.T goals? This article is perfect for you.

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Wondering where to start with S.M.A.R.T goals? This resource tells all.

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Knowledge is Power!

If you are looking for some personal development books that’ll help you through your project journey, here are our top picks! Read them for free at York Libraries!

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Task Batching

Task Batching can improve your productivity. Learn how by watching the video linked below!

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Here is a S.M.A.R.T Goals Worksheet to get you started.

Who's Involved

Projects are inherently collaborative activities. Your project is likely to involve participants, funders, audience members etc.. Rather than assuming you know what they need and expect, take the time to ask them, at this stage, to prevent misunderstandings later. This is especially important if you engage with people from marginalized communities or who identify differently than yourself.


Don’t assume others’ needs and expectations. Ask them!

Prioritize your stakeholders according to their interests, influence and level of participation.

Avoid missing stakeholders by involving your team in the brainstorming process.

Be sure to assess the role each stakeholder plays in the project.



Here is a quick read about why your stakeholders matter and how to conduct an analysis.

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If you're looking for a more in-depth explanation, read the PDF linked below.

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On the other hand, if you just want an overview of what you need to know, check out this video!

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Unconscious bias

Did you know that we all have unconscious biases? Not sure what that is? Watch this video

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Now that you know what unconscious bias is, here’s how you can guard against it

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Grouping your stakeholders can help you prioritize them. Try this Power Interest Grid!

What You Need

Every project requires resources like people, materials, expertise, and money to name a few. To create a solid foundation for your team, be sure to fully understand the people working with you on the project as they are your most important resources! Learn about their skills, knowledge, and motivations for being involved, as well as what role(s) they would like to play.


Form a group charter that will help your team stay aligned with your project.

Identify and use your team’s superpowers!

Doing a S.W.O.T analysis can save a lot of sweat!

Find the sweet spot between what you want to do and what you realistically can do.

Organize yourself with free online tools like MS Teams, Google Sheets/Docs, or Notion.


Positive Dynamics

Understand your team and learn how to create a positive team dynamic.

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It is very important to set team expectations. Group contracts can help you with that. Here’s how you can make one!

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Do a S.W.O.T analysis to understand your project's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Never done one? Check out these resources!

What is a S.W.O.T Analysis?

How to Execute a SWOT Analysis


These group charter templates will help your team establish some ground rules, goals, roles, and responsibilities to get the project started. Be sure to check out the examples!

Creating a Project Plan

Once you've carefully considered your project goals, stakeholders, and resources, you are ready to put all of this into a project plan. This will ensure everyone is on the same page and that your project stays on track. Being organized is such a lifesaver!


Anticipate project resources, costs, and constraints.

Break the project into smaller milestones with deadlines to make the process less overwhelming. Celebrate when you hit a milestone!

Keep everyone in the loop using collaborative platforms.


Making a Plan

Looking for tools to help you plan? The Communication & Planning Tools Guide provides many of the resources you’ll need.

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Eisenhower Power Matrix

Not sure what to do first? Learn how to prioritize tasks using the Eisenhower Power Matrix.

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In a resource crunch? Understand whether you need to lengthen your timelines or get more resources.

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Planning a project doesn’t have to be a complicated process. York offers a simple Project Plan Template, or you can browse this project planning resource to download a template.

These free collaborative platforms offer options to help your team communicate efficiently and effectively:

Except where otherwise noted, all resources in the Student Project Toolkit, authored by the Learning Commons at York University in 2022, are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. If you reuse, adapt or build upon this work, please cite The Student Project Toolkit, Learning Commons, York University and link to