The hardest part of starting a project, for me, is the actual starting of it! As you can imagine, that makes it even harder to finish it!
If I don’t have a plan I tend to end up with a bunch of post-it notes all over the place. The only way I can seem to get myself started is to break it down into 5 Simple Steps Explode Focus When Completing a Looming Project.
Try these steps to complete a project the next time you feel a bit overwhelmed by the start of it.
Before we get started, hop over to the post in The Vault and grab the project planner to make it easy to follow along or grab it below:
Prioritize The Project You Want to Complete
We’re going to set up a plan to complete a project using 5 steps – and we’re going to do it in four weeks. Four weeks is long enough to complete it without losing focus and short enough so you can see progress quickly.
Chances are you have many projects you’d like to do. Review your goals (you DO have them written down, right?) and choose a project that will move you forward to achieving them.
It’s important that you don’t choose a project that will take longer than 4 weeks. However, if you have a project that needs longer than four weeks you can still choose to do it – just be sure that you split the project into 4-week increments and follow the plan for each segment.
Be sure you note the project (or segment) on your planning sheet so you have a record of it.
Brainstorm the Steps You Need to Complete a Project
Write down every step you need to take to complete a project. Don’t worry about them being in order, just list them all out. You may need to break some of them down further.
This part may take some time. Don’t rush it but try to get everything down on paper.
You may want to print out two copies of the planner so you can rewrite it once you have your first copy marked up.
Once you have all the steps written out, go ahead and number them.
Choose 4 Benchmarks
Look for some natural breaks in your brainstorming steps to use as weekly benchmarks. Hitting those benchmarks as you complete a project will help with your focus because you can measure progress by hitting them. Try to space your tasks out as evenly as possible, or as spaced out as needed for your schedule.
Note this: This planner isn’t meant to force you into doing the entire project in 4 weeks. Use it as a tool, a guide to help you plan. Make it work for YOU. I’ve used it to complete a project in 3 weeks, and I’ve used it to complete a project in 6 weeks. The point is just to allow it to lead you to completion.
Record those benchmarks on your project planner.
If you haven’t downloaded it yet, here’s another chance:
Condense, Combine and Batch
Now that you have your list and your benchmarks, go ahead and record the steps in your weekly boxes. Keep in mind the tasks that you can combine and condense. Are there any you can delegate? If so, note them – with a due date – and get them assigned ASAP. Get them off your plate.
Keep in mind the tasks that need to be done in order and those that can be done ahead. The key is to get the plan written out.
If you are transferring the plan to a fresh copy, be sure to color code the steps that need to be delegated or can be done ahead to make them easy to see.
If you are working with others, be sure to provide them a copy of the completed plan so they can see what they need to do to complete a project as well. it’s helpful if everyone can see the big picture and the map to get there.
The Final Step of the Plan
Now it’s time to pull out your planner and plug the tasks into your schedule. You may have days when you work on the project for a couple of hours and other days that you don’t do it at all. Just be sure to add the tasks according to YOUR schedule – and try not to OVER-schedule yourself. That’s a recipe for burnout.
Record your benchmarks in a different color (or highlight) so you know exactly where you are at any given time. It’s a good idea to also record in your planner the tasks that need to be done by others with the due dates. You need to stay on top of those if you want to hit your goals for this project.
I’m certainly not anti-post-it notes – I love those things and use them for other types of planning all the time! I just find this project planner method helps me finish the smaller projects or portions of a larger one much easier. I can map it out and assign tasks to a VA from the beginning so we’re both more organized.
Here’s one last tip: file away the project planner (or scan and file in your Google Drive) so you can refer to it later. You’d be surprised how it can get your planning juices flowing the next time you need to plan one!
One last time, here’s that planner:
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