Here’s a shortcut that will change the way you work.
When you find yourself staring down the throat of that next humungous, daunting project, take a deep breath and ask yourself this one question:
“What is the absolute next thing I have to do to move this project forward?”
Resist the temptation to over-analyze and get too far ahead of yourself. It could be the tiniest thing: writing that first sentence, creating a project folder, making a phone call or booking a meeting room. Whatever that first step is, make it an easy one and take it. You’ll be amazed at the momentum it creates.
My step-by-step approach to slaying those b.i.g. projects
Now you’ve gotten started, here is a 7-step method I’ve developed to help you continue to move forward.
Step 1: Schedule a planning meeting with yourself to get all those To Dos out of your brain into the open where you can see them. If you’re a digital person, write them in a Word document, use a project management app or digital notebook (Evernote or OneNote). But a piece of paper and pen will suffice.
Step 2: Mind dump everything that has to get done. Forget about the order or categorizing or jumping ahead and actually doing some of the tasks you’re writing down. That is a sneaky procrastination tactic. If you get stuck, start with the end in mind and work backwards.
Step 3: Set key deadlines and deliverables. Mark them in your calendar. You may want to add a bit of a cushion to some dates to allow for the unexpected.
Step 4: Break tasks down into bite-size actionable steps and include everything you need to get those tasks done. For example, rather than writing: call designer, get more specific … as if you were going to explain how to do it to someone else: Call Glenn, designer at Molten Ice @416.555.1212. Ask him about his availability and interest in redesigning the website. That way, when you actually have to call Glenn, you have all the information at your fingertips and the task becomes easy.
Step 5: Decide what can be delegated or outsourced. Now that you have your To Do list in front of you, you may feel a tad overwhelmed. Think about which tasks could be delegated or outsourced. Even the small administrative items (like booking meeting rooms or proofreading copy) will save you a bunch of time.
Step 6: Block off work times in your calendar. Mark as busy if others can see your calendar. Otherwise, you’ll be challenged by others who want to pull you away from your priorities.
Step 7: Hold yourself accountable. Tell someone or announce the launch/delivery date. Nothing makes you get things done faster than a hard deadline with others waiting for the finished product.
Now that you have a plan of action it’s time to move forward. What is that project you’ve been avoiding because it feels too b.i.g. and difficult. Take that first step and be sure to make it an easy one.