In the book “The Art of Getting Things Done” there is a 5 step model for starting projects called The Natural Planning Model. The five steps of the model are Defining the purpose and principals, Outcome visioning, brainstorming, organizing, and finally identifying next actions. These five steps are used whenever you have something to do that needs to be planned out.
One example that the book gave was the example of planning going out to dinner with your friends. So for step one the purpose would be that you wanted to have dinner with your friends at a restaurant and then the principles were the boundaries of your plan. Next would be the outcome visioning. This means that you begin to think about how the night would look. Things like who would be there with you, what the restaurant would look like inside, and maybe even what you would get to eat. So once you’ve gone through the first two steps and you have identified what your purpose is and what the outcome might look like you have to start brainstorming on how exactly to make it happen. This is where you start asking questions like where should you go, is it open, how far away is it , and can you afford it. After this you have to organize everything you automatically start to organize these thoughts into groups and prioritizing them. Finally you reach the last step where you decide what the next action step would be to actually make your project or plan become a reality.
This is called the natural planning model because this is what we naturally do when we have a plan however sometimes it can be very effective to know all the steps and go through them one at a time to help really break down your planning process to make it the most effective it can be.