More Projects Then Brains?

Sometimes when you have a huge project in front of you – like planning a wedding or planning a move – it’s hard to decide where to start.

Ever feel that way?

Recently my oldest daughter Heather accepted a job offer, which came with it the decision to move to a new city – Philadelphia! While the offer was her dream job, reality set in after the initial excitement wore off. There was a lot to do to prepare for this move in a very short amount of time.

She needed to find a place to live, decide what furniture and other belongings to take with her, as well as figure out how to move everything 300 miles away.

For starters, she needed a plan!

High on her list was a major purge of her belongings – clothes, shoes, books, etc. It was time to let go of some of her high school and college “treasures” to make room for her new life. She spent a number of days just sorting through her belongings deciding what to keep, donate, or toss.

Also near the top of her list was searching for a place to live. After a couple of trips to Philly, she found the perfect apartment, the size of which quickly helped her decide how much she could take with her and the packing began.

Assisting her with this process got me thinking about how important it is to take a breath when looking at a huge project in front of you, and put a plan together that breaks it down into smaller attainable steps.

Here are 5 simple steps you can apply to completing a project when there is a looming deadline you have to meet:

  1. Reduce stress by making a plan. The secret to tackling a huge task is to find a way to make it more manageable. For Heather, like many of us, keeping a to do list on paper cleared her head and helped keep her focused. It’s more efficient in the long run to spend time upfront planning and prioritizing, then it is to jump in haphazardly.
  1. Start with your comfort zone. Heather knew that wherever she was moving she would be taking her bookshelf and her favorite books with her. So she started the process of sorting and purging her belongings with her books. By going shelf by shelf and selecting the books that would go with her and the books that would be donated, she was on a roll. Once one area of her room was packed, some of the clutter was out of the way and she was able to more easily move on to the next area of her room.
  1. Check in regularly. Sometimes details can fall through the cracks. Set a specific time each day to review your plan. Cross off tasks that are complete, add new tasks if necessary, and Identify tasks that can be done in “chunks” of 10-minutes or less or one hour segments – this way when you have and hour or two, or just a few spare moments you can immediately identify what can get accomplished.
  1. Adjust your expectations. There will be days when you will be so overwhelmed, that you will be paralyzed. When this happens, take a break. Accept that some days will be more productive then others. This is important to avoid burn out and to assure that momentum continues.
  1. Acknowledge accomplishments. No matter how many tasks you cross off in any given day, acknowledge what you have accomplished. Focus on staying motivated, rather than only focusing on the tasks that are still left on the list.

No matter what the project is, outlining tasks in advance into smaller, manageable steps is beneficial in many ways. It makes a big project feel less daunting and it allows you to clearly define the tasks that need to be completed in the time available.

Instead of saying “I have more projects than brains,” you will be saying, “Why did I put THAT off for so long?”

TA DA Tip of the Month

Are you facing a big, overwhelming project and wondering how you will ever complete it? Embrace a positive attitude and try these steps:

  1. Do the easy things first – more often than not getting started is the hardest part. So pick one task that you think is easy and just do it. You will feel the progress and it may be all you need to get the momentum going in the right direction.
  1. Focus on one thing at a time – When there is a list of tasks to be completed in front of you, focus on one task at a time. Put the rest of the list out of your mind and don’t procrastinate. Completing one task at a time will instantly make you feel productive which will motivate you to continue on to the next task when you are ready.
  1. Set a timer – Establish a comfortable block of time for the task at hand and stick to it before taking a break. Keeping the amount of time realistic based upon your level of energy ensures your highest level of productivity. Reward yourself when the timer goes off.
  1. Get help when you need it – If you feel stuck, ask for help. Considering fresh ideas and perspectives may be all you need.

Recognize any negative thoughts that may be holding you back, be honest about what you can handle, and remember that projects are completed one step at a time.

Focusing on the step in front of you makes the journey more satisfying. Ta Da!

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