Start

What is the best way for me to get my project done?

Start.
Then work.
When you stop, start again.
Finish

When we look at our project work, our most significant barrier to success is often starting — and then starting again. We are qualified to do our part of the work in the project, or we are willing to learn how to do it. Our biggest barrier is the inertia that keeps us from beginning.

How To Start

Think of a project that you haven’t spent enough time on. Here’s a couple of tips on how to finish:

Choose Your Time

Choose a time that you are going to start. Schedule an hour. In this hour your job isn’t to work on the project. Your job is to work on a small task. Since your mind is already telling you that you cannot complete the project in an hour, don’t even try. What you are going to do is to organize your work into buckets. Your job in the hour is to make a task list, and then to do the first simple item on the list. When you are done working for an hour, resist the temptation to keep going. Move on to something else like you promised yourself.

After you have done the first hour of planning, and have completed the first small task, you will be motivated to continue. Psychologically this project has a foot in the door. There are two reasons for this:

  1. You have ownership of the project. By investing time in the project, it now has become yours.
  2. You have shown yourself that it can be done. Doing the first task has started the ball rolling. It is no longer a project that you aren’t able to do. Rather, you are the type of person who does this type of project. It is within your skills and capabilities.

Work

The next step is to do the work for the project. This requires you to schedule time, and stick to it. The best way to make sure that you are going to complete the work on the project is to picture yourself at a specific time and in a particular place completing the task. If you imagine yourself coming into work on Wednesday and spending the first two hours of the day working on the project, you are more likely to ignore your email when you first get. You will immediately start working on the project.

Start Again

Most projects will take several dedicated chunks of time to complete. You will have to stop at some point. Either because of interruptions or because the day is over. The key to achieving success in your project is to make sure that you start again. Think about what needs to be done next. Schedule your time. Picture when you will do the work.

If you are having trouble starting again, use the same technique as above. Just start small. Don’t focus on the project work. Focus on planning for the work, and then complete one task.

Finish

The last step that people often miss clearly finishing a project. When you are doing work, take the time to clean up all of the loose ends. Put the project behind you so that you can focus on the next thing. If there is additional work that you need to do, make sure that you open it as a new project.

Often people don’t end a project. This leads to a mental drain of having so many projects open. It feels like nothing is ever given up. If you never close a project you also find that people are much more willing to ask you to do ‘one more thing’ for that project. Closing a project means that the ‘one more thing’ becomes another project in your books that you can plan for, and think of, accordingly.

Done On Time

The best way to get done on time is to start. Then make sure you do the work, start again when you stop and have a clear finish. These small steps will help you finish every project on time.

Change Something

What is the purpose of embarking on a project? The goal of every project is to change something! If your result from finishing a project isn’t that something in the world has changed, then you haven’t been successful. If nothing has changed, then why spend effort and resources on the project?

Done On Time – Define Where You Are Going

When you start your project, make sure that you know where you are going. Every project should begin with a vision document. The vision document tells you what will change in the world, and when it will change by. When you have a clear picture of what needs to change you have something to work towards. When you know when it needs to be done, you suddenly have action steps.

Think about this example:

Project 1: I want to design a new product that will replace my current business flagship product.

Project 2: By May 15, 2019, subject matter specialists who manage projects will have a tool for recording their project vision, statistics, and progress online.

The second project is a project that will be done. You will know when you will be done on time, and you have a vision for what the outcome will look like. With the time constraint, you know exactly what steps you have to take. It might be to hire software developers, and it might be complete the design of the online tool. The first project will likely never get done. You don’t know what the new product will look like and there is no urgency in completing the work. Without the deadline, you don’t know when you have to be done by. Everything that seems urgent will take priority over the project.

What If I Choose The Wrong Vision?

In a world of nearly infinite choice, we often find ourselves paralyzed because we don’t want to choose the wrong thing mistakenly. A beautiful side effect of being Done On Time is that you aren’t wrong when you complete a project.

When you define a project vision, and a date to have it done by, you are describing the way that you want to change the world, and when it will happen. You may get to the end of the project and discover that it wasn’t quite the way that you wanted to change the world, but there will be something different about the world today than it was when you started. This means that you have a few options:

  1. Create another project that builds on your current one to correct your course so that you end up closer to where you wanted to be.
  2. Recognize that the project you just finished is a good learning experience. Kind of like trying a new restaurant that you may end up liking or not.
  3. Use this as a catalyst to examine what you can do better when defining your project vision.

Your purpose for running a project is to make a change in the world. Your work has an impact. Your project means that something will be different. Thank you for making sure that we continue to move forward.