Top 5 Reasons You Need a Burn Chart

Meet deadlines, finish projects and quit fooling yourself.

So what’s a burn chart? It’s a tool programmers and techies designed to help them meet deadlines. More than just a pretty picture for your Instagram feed (although it can be that) a good burn chart can save you from your worst self.

1.    For some of us, if we don’t have a deadline—even our very own self-imposed deadline—we don’t have anything. A burn chart puts that deadline right there in front of you and forces you to properly evaluate the steps you’re going to take to get there.

2.    And for even more of us, getting started is the easy (easier) part. But finishing—there’s the rub. We get the manuscript, essay or proposal to the almost-done stage and there it sits. A burn chart prevents that by requiring that you fit ALL the steps towards completion in that space between now and the deadline.

3.    A burn chart is a “lag measure.” Most of us tend to look at lead time. How much time do we have to get this thing done. Lots! It’s due October 5 and heck, it’s only September 1! But then suddenly it’s October 1, the lead time is gone and you’re nowhere near 31/35ths done. A burn chart has a completion date for every stage of the process, and gives you an easy way to measure, every day, whether you’re on track to meet that deadline. Ideally, that means you nail it. But if not, you’re able to revise that 10/5 deadline on 9/17, when you see that you aren’t even close to halfway.

4.    A burn chart demands that you list your steps to completion, and then estimate, with some degree of accuracy, how long each step will take. You might find yourself revising those steps and the amount of work necessary each day to hit your goal—but that will be clear within days of creating the chart rather than with just days to go before the deadline.

5.    It IS a pretty picture for your Instagram. Even more importantly, it’s hard to ignore that visual reminder. If you’re not at the right dot on your line, or filling in the boxes up to the goal, you’re not on track, and if you’re not on track, you aren’t going to make it. It’s easy to fool yourself, but there’s no fooling a burn chart.

NEXT WEEK (Supporter Only): Top 5 Steps to Burn Chart Success (a How-to)

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