A manager with with a new project handed down from above. A student with a grade-altering assignment. A mom building her side-gig business. Whoever you are, the basics of not only completing your task-but doing so successfully without unneeded stress-are the same. These 7 steps ensure a faster, easier project-whether large or small.
When planning a project, first think of the outcome. What is the goal? Then, be specific about what exactly needs to be done. Broad categories will leave you feeling confused and uncertain about how to move forward. For instance, I would never put on a project list “write e-book.” I would write instead “research 5 possible topics, check Amazon for other similar books, narrow down topics to 2 ideas, interview experts in each field” etc.
Having specific tasks allows you to put one foot in front of the other, so to speak. It will be very easy to see exactly what needs to be done to accomplish your goal. You’ll feel emboldened, clear headed. In addition, some tasks might take a half an hour and another might take 3 hours. If you have 45 minutes in between meetings, guess what you can check off that to do list? Yep, the half hour task.
Examine Your Task List
We humans can be very creative, ambitious people. I invested in Evernote premium for all my devices because I just never know when an idea is going to POP into my head. Realistically, however, not every idea is worth my time. Some would be fun but won’t grow my business. Similarly, tracking down a certain resource for an essay assignment might be cool, but a colossal effort.
Take a look at all your ideas for your project and be honest with yourself-which are going to be worth your time. Focus on those and let the rest go. This is a major step for an easier project.
Go Long–Or Go Short
When faced with a massive to do list, take one of two approaches, depending on your mood.
- Pumped? Ready to take on the world? Then start with the hardest or longest part of your project. Making a serious dent in your work will lead you excited to do more.
- Feeling a little blah? Low energy. Then tackle a bunch of little tasks that are related to your project. Just getting started on something will spur you on to more.
Set the Mood
I am completely serious. Who says working on your to do list has to be drudgery. Well, some of it might but you can certainly lighten the atmosphere by playing music (preferably non-distracting acoustical) or light a candle. The sweet next door neighbor teenage girl got me a candle that says “hello gorgeous” on it for Christmas last year. It smells fabulous. I light it every time I write. Maybe you’d like to diffuse essential oils.
In addition, using certain music, scents or scenery signals your brain it’s time to work. It’s like a little ritual.
Watch the Time
We live in the age of distraction. Close your door. Silence your phone. And set an alarm for at least a 25 minute chunk of work. Then take a quick 5 minute break. This is known as the Pomodoro Technique and it works. We are so accustomed to being interrupted that the amount of work you can accomplish in 25 minutes will blow your mind! If I had to pick one tip for an easier project, this would be it.
Take Care of Yourself
This means making sure you have water and snacks nearby. Go for energy boosting snacks that help you focus like almonds, Greek yogurt with blueberries, or a hard boiled egg.
Recognize when you need to take a break, stretch and change the scenery. Go for a walk, make a phone call to a friend and if you have a pet, now’s a good time for a snuggle or a game of fetch. Take your mind off your tasks completely.
Remember, you are the machine, in essence. You wouldn’t expect your car to run without gas, and neither can you. Feed the engine.
At the end of every project it’s imperative to take time to examine what went well and what didn’t. Celebrate the wins. Make note of them so you can replicate them later. Also make note of the missteps so that you can avoid these in the future. With these 7 tips any project-whether large or small-will be accomplished faster and easier, with less stress.
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