How to Actually Start Working on Your Big Project
You’re about to embark on a big project that’s been on your mind for months, and today you’re taking the first step. Or at least that was your plan. There are so many things that get in the way. Here are three steps to move from talking about your ideas, to making them a reality.
Escape the research and planning stage
You’re getting set up to begin. You’re one step closer to reaching your goal, and then another step, and then another step. As weeks pass you realize you’re on the “research and planning treadmill.”
This phase feels comfortable. There is little risk and it feels like we’re taking action. The planning could go on forever with even more planning needed as the situation changes. Meanwhile, the project is stagnant. It’s a vicious cycle.
- Focus on what matters: One article could lead to another, and another. Make sure you know what you are looking for before you get started.
- Break it down: Don’t look at everything at once. Tackle smaller sections at a time.
- Set a date: Pick specific milestones and put the date in writing. Particularly if working as a team to hold everyone accountable.
- Take a break, when needed: At some point you spend more time clicking than learning. Notice when this happens and do something to shift your energy to something productive until you can focus again.
- Eat the frog: Get the most frustrating thing out of the way first. Your future self will thank you.
Stop talking and disconnect
Today we’re more connected than ever before. Through texting, email, and social media we’re always sending and receiving information to our network. These platforms also mean the world has a stage for their opinion. When it comes to your project, those outside opinions often slow you down more than they help.
To get answers while still making progress:
- Schedule specific times to discuss: Adashmore does this with weekly calls. Feedback is saved for quick discussions. It prevents a lot of emails back and forth.
- Be direct: Know exactly what you’re asking and what you hope to get out of it. More open-ended feedback isn’t helpful.
- Turn off notifications: Avoid distractions from your email and social media notifications, to your ringtone. All of these take up more time and make the project take longer.
- Change of scenery: Sometimes working from another location frees up creativity. Try a library, coffee shop, different part of the office, or even your backyard.
Keep the end goal in the front of your mind
Keeping your project’s end goal in mind can help you get through the research, planning, and discussion stages. Even if your project is ongoing, it’s important to set goals. You should always have dates clearly set to ensure that goals are met and the project moves forward at a healthy pace.
It’s easy to remember goals in the beginning, but it’s harder to see the light at the end of the tunnel during the daily grind.
To keep your goals in mind:
- Stick to the deadline: If you’re keeping your deadline in mind, then you’re keeping your project in mind.
- Make progress a top priority: Do everything you can to avoid stagnation. Take steps every day to ensure that your project is moving forward.
- Keep a logbook: Recording your progress can show how far you still need to go, and you’ll see how much or how little you’re doing.
- Use a reminder app: There are a ton of apps that will send you reminders of what you need to do. Receiving notifications related to your project will keep it in the front of your mind.
- The classic sticky note: If you prefer a traditional approach, then leaving goal oriented sticky notes around your house will keep your project fresh in mind.
If you follow these steps, you’ll be on your way to making your dream project a reality.