Work Plans

Managing Your Workload
Just as spring sets into motion various activities in nature, it also jump starts the number of activities for watershed groups. From community day events to monitoring stormwater runoff, you hit the ground running to try and accomplish everything that needs to be completed. The high pace of your work, however, continues throughout the year. Grant deadlines, maintenance of membership, and education programs are just a few of the projects that can easily escape your attention until the deadlines rapidly approach. Work plans take a proactive approach, “keeping an eye on the goal,” to manage resources, identify needs, and delegate tasks to ensure activities are successfully completed. Such a document is a valuable tool for efficient and effective program implementation and should be used regularly and consistently as a monitoring tool for projects.

A work plan is a document developed by the project manager and staff, which lists all planned activities, the date on which they will occur or by which they will be accomplished, the resources they will require, and the person who is responsible for carrying them out.

Work plans are beneficial because they:

  • Foster an atmosphere of teamwork and cooperation
  • Communicate to staff the range of activities carried out by others
  • Motivate staff to work toward challenging but realistic targets
  • Provide staff with a sense of accomplishment upon achieving their objectives and targets
Getting Started

We seem to automatically jump into projects such as a stream cleanups, and not take the time to proactively plan to answer the what, who, when, where, and how questions. It is easy to think that creating a plan is a waste of time and resources, but thorough plans can save time and resources. Work plans can motivate others to become involved to complete the tasks at hand, and cultivate leadership in your organization by activating your membership. The work plan can also translate into a standard operating procedure document for repeatable projects.

The first question to answer is what is the goal(s) for the project? Do you want to educate your members about nonpoint source pollution, increase unrestricted funding sources, increase your organization’s visibility, or all of the above? The goal translates into the vision of how this project will fit your mission. An example for membership efforts can be to increase your general membership through new membership strategies.

The next step is to determine what objectives need to be completed in order to attain your goal. There are many ways to accomplish your goal, so choose objectives that will have the largest impact. Objectives should be S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

An example of a S.M.A.R.T. objective is to increase general membership by 25% in 12 months.
Specific – focuses on general membership
Measurable – targets a quantifiable increase in membership
Attainable – uses historical data to determine what is attainable, in this case we challenge ourselves to increase membership recruitment by 5% from last year
Realistic – financial and human resources are available to complete the project
Timely – sets a deadline to complete the plan in 12 months

After you determine the objectives needed to attain your goal, outline the strategies necessary to make it happen. Examples of objectives include:

  1. Set up an online membership form
  2. Target Princeton community for membership from Millstone Bypass success
  3. Hold watershed cleanups in 5 towns

Finally, determine the specific tactics that need to be undertaken to complete your objective. When framing the tactics ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What resources will be needed?
  2. Who will carry out these activities?
  3. When will the activities be conducted?

Now, the most important item to accomplish is to set these ideas down on paper in the form of a work plan. One time projects can easily be written into a table or calendar format. For repeatable and complicated projects it may be advantageous to accompany the calendar with a narrative describing the purpose and goals for the project, e.g. membership plans.This process is where you determine what resources are needed; you may find out that this objective may not be attainable. It can alleviate burnout by identifying areas where you can bring in volunteers to help meet specific tasks and deadlines.


  • Goal: Membership Recruitment to increase general membership by 25% in 12 months.
  • Target: Obtain 188 new members (25% of 754 members)
  • Results: 180 new members (8 members short of goal)

Click to Review Sample Table & Calendar Formats

Once the plan is complete, communicate your approach throughout the organization and monitor the progress. Reflect on both the process and the results. If you plan to repeat the project, incorporate changes from the lessons learned on the experience. Then, for next year, another member of the organization can take the document and run the program.

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