5 Simple Tricks for Tackling That Big Hairy Project You've Been Avoiding
There it sits. That giant, ugly complicated project that you have been avoiding for months. The more you avoid it, the more it nags at you. You know you have to get it done. But there are always more urgent or important issues to deal with and then the day is gone before you even start. Finally it gets to the point where your team needs completion and your reputation is starting to suffer.
No need to sacrifice your status with the team. A little focus and planning can solve the problem. When I find myself avoiding a project, I invite a colleague to work with me on the project. Then together we pull out the calendar and create blocks of time specifically for the project. The calendar insures time is set aside and the colleague brings accountability. Usually tackling big projects is more fun with collaboration anyway.
Here are more insights from my Inc. colleagues.
1. A little shame will get you started.
When faced with a big ugly project I have put off, I do two things. One, I tell my wife. She's a poster child for productivity and her raised eyebrow is sufficient to shame me into action. Then I decide I will do just one thing on that project, something concrete and specific. That reminds me even the biggest projects only require completing a series of small steps--each of which I can accomplish. (Just like eating an elephant.) Jeff Haden--Owner's Manual
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2. Break it into chunks.
I was once tapped to head an ASJA task force to create recommendations for the coming five years. I was thrilled to have this responsibility but then I froze, not sure how to start on something so massive. One of my team members suggested breaking our project into different segments and setting sub-groups to work on them. I followed her suggestion and together we created a report full of specific recommendations for the board. It helped our group strategize for several years.
Procrastination often happens when you feel flummoxed and overwhelmed. Breaking the project into manageable chunks, as well as getting help and advice, will get you over the hump. Minda Zetlin--The Laid Back Leader
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3. Set a hard deadline.
As a writer, my life is ruled by deadlines. But just like anything else, there are certain projects that I love to work on, and some not so much. Regardless of how much I would rather be working something--anything--else, there comes a time when even those big ugly projects need some love, and it's up to me to show it. To make one of these projects happen, I set a date and time on my calendar when I'll absolutely start working it, and when that date and time comes, that's exactly what I do. I take lots of breaks as I ease into the project, but then I force myself to get right back to work on it. In most cases, the project eventually takes on a rhythm of its own, and I am able to knock it out in short order. And when that doesn't happen, I just work twice as hard to get it done. There's a reason why they call it work, after all. Peter Economy--The Management Guy
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4. Talk about it.
When I procrastinate on a project it's usually because I'm not excited about it or I don't have a plan. When I can no longer avoid the work I call my coach or a willing friend and discuss the project with them. The simple act of articulating the purpose and benefits re-energizes me and allows the creative process and strategy to surface. I have to act fast though, otherwise I'll go right back to the stressful state of being stuck. Marla Tabaka--The Successful Soloist
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5. Ask for Help
When I am stuck on a project, I simply admit it and ask for help. The request for assistance comes with built-in accountability because I know that I will be required to share my progress. This first step gets me past the blank page that is my most common stumbling block. Once I meet with someone else, discussion about the project and feedback on my progress is usually the inspiration I need to create a path toward finalization.
I also use my network of vendors and business contacts to help move a project along by asking for their advice on the different components. Providing an explanation of a project to others and fielding their questions or confusion is a great exercise to understand what gaps I still need to cover. Eric Holtzclaw--Lean Forward