You probably have a lot of projects that you want to get done. But, sometime when you are working on a big project, it can be difficult to figure out how to start and how to finish. I recently decided to take on the complex project of writing and publishing my upcoming book GET IT DONE. This project was complex, and I found it pretty difficult to get traction and get moving on the project. I needed strategies for managing my time and effort toward completing the project.
In the process of writing GET IT DONE, I surveyed or interviewed 60 successful business, community, and family leaders to learn how the recommend tackling big projects. Based on their insights, I have created THE 10 Ps of PROJECT COMPLETION. There is some great advice in the ideas below - read through these ideas and consider how you could use them to get one of your own big projects going.
- Know what you want to do and where you want to go.
- Define what you want to accomplish and why.
- Remember that your goals are worth working hard at
- Know what you are doing so you can defend it and persuade others to see your vision.
- Make sure you’re passionate about it and that completing it’s important, perhaps answering
- some burning question that you have.
- Create a priority list.
- Do things in order of importance.
- Get a look at the big picture so little tasks so it doesn't seem overwhelming
- Find some way to move what you really value to the top of your list-- for me, this is an ongoing issue, as it's always easier to work on things where there are deadlines/accountability, and my own creative work doesn't have those built in.
- Set achievable goals and “chunk” them into manageable “bite-sized” pieces.
- Set deadlines for the smaller-chunked items
- Use a calendar to plan.
- Schedule time as needed for focusing on the tasks.
- Set aside enough time - be realistic and then add some time on top of that.
- Clearly define what it means to accomplish the project
- Understand the resources you have to work with: time, money, collaborators.
- Understand the needs of ALL the project's stakeholders.
- Don't work on open-ended projects-- set a deadline for completion-- even if it seems arbitrary or unnatural.
- Set specific times to work on the project.
- Google is your friend. The more information you have, the better your plan will be.
- Allow others to assist in areas that require more help than you can do alone.
- Find a mentor and solicit their input.
- Determine who you need to involve to get it done, share your goals with them, and ask them to hold you accountable.
- Tell other people about your plans to work through issues you may come across.
- Be accountable to someone.
- Don't be too afraid to ask for help, but learn who to ask.
- Delegate what you can.
- Utilize the people around you. Even if it’s not their field of expertise, sometimes a fresh perspective helps.
- Have a support group if possible.
- Don't work alone.
- Find people to work with, start with a timeline early on, and schedule monthly meetings.
- Be flexible to other ideas. Sometimes the breakthroughs come from others.
- Get a lot of sleep so you can focus.
- Anticipate what you’ll need to have on hand so you don’t get side-tracked.
- Start the project in your mind well before you are ready to really start it - that is, give yourself time to think about it and have your subconscious work on the problem.
- Get started on the project as soon as you can - don't wait until it’s right on top of you to get
- Don't wait till you can see the end before you begin. Oftentimes, if you step out before you have all of the answers they will come to you as you need them. If you wait till you can see how it will end, you'll never begin.
- Try even if you don’t think you can do it.
- Just get started on part of it.
- Start right away; don't delay the whole project. Start part of it as soon as you can.
- Act early enough on tasks and don’t leave them until the last minute.
- DO IT NOW; don't procrastinate.
- Sit down and do it. There is no substitute for work.
- Refine in passes - in other words, just get a version of the project done then go back and clean it up. Then go back and clean it up some more. Don’t try to be perfect along the way.
- Fail fast, so you can improve and get better.
- Find some ways to make working on that project an everyday routine. If you have the habit, it
- will be much easier to get work done every day, and you'll feel better about it
- Don’t ever give up.
- Exert continuous effort - don’t quit until it’s done.
- Life is a marathon...just do it one step at a time and focus on what's immediately in front of you while making considerations for the road that lies ahead.
- Work hard and don't make excuses.
- Don’t stop, even if it gets tough.
- You can take breaks, but make sure to get back to your plan.
- Work on it every day until completed.
- Turn off your email and instant message programs for blocks of time while you focus on your project.
- GET OFF THE INTERNET! Why do you need to open so many tabs, ya maniac?!!?!?
- Eliminate distractions
- Don't work at the project until you are sick of it. Takes breaks and take advantage of distractions
- (not all distractions are bad). I feel I solve the most problems when I walk away and come back
- Work on it a little every day when you’re not busy. This will reduce your stress the closer you get to the end of the project.
- Don't give up when it gets hard. Take a break for a day and then regroup.
- Keep your eye on the things that matter most and don't let anything else sidetrack you. Be aware of your priorities.
- Write down goals and record your progress.
- Practice realistic optimism.
- Cultivate a sense of humor.
- Celebrate along the way, as well as when your plan becomes a reality.
- Think of the next task. That way, you won't get overwhelmed.
(yes permute. It really means to change or Make Adjustments but we wanted it to be a P word, so I chose permute. Please don’t judge.)
- Sometimes you've got to take a step backwards in order to advance forward. (often around an obstacle or to access a better path);
- Set goals to get you started and if things change, re-evaluate your goals, rewrite them and keep going towards your end goal
- Know that setbacks will occur and plan how you will address any setback in advance
- There have been occasions where I have abandoned a project and without the weight of the project on me, I was mentally able to look at it from hindsight perspective and discover a solution to the show-stopping issue, find a different way to take the project, or a new solution presents itself when it was previously not there.