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5 Simple Tricks for Tackling That Big Hairy Project You've Been Avoiding

Got a major task gnawing at you? Here are several simple ways to break through the procrastination and get it done.

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

Want to read more from Jeff? Click here.

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

Want to read more from Minda? Click here.

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

Want to read more from Peter? Click here.

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

Want to read more from Marla? Click here.

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

Want to read more from Eric? Click here.
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Last updated: Aug 27, 2014

KEVIN DAUM | Columnist

An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies and the executive producer of Amilya! on 77WABC New York. Sign up here and never miss out on Kevin's thoughts and humor.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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