The Power of the Project to Beat Back the Overwhelm
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Do you know what the date is?
It’s already mid-January, which is basically the end of January, which is as good as saying we’re done Q1, which equals saying it’s already half-way through the year, so we’re pretty much already on the slippery slide towards the end of the year.
But don’t panic yet
Here’s a simple strategy that might help you feel you’re on top of things and better maintain the focus you want and need.
In the red corner…
Let me set up this comparison.
On the one hand, there’s your job description. It’s perfectly fine, but it’s typically fairly open and fairly broad. It’s all about Good Work and it keeps on keeping on. Whether you’re there or not, your job description keeps on rolling.
On the other hand, there’s the power of projects. They’re focused, they have a start date and a finish date, you can set standards for them and you can prioritize between them. Getting better at projectizing all you’ve got on your plate is a smart strategy to get crisper about what and why you’re doing what you do.
Four steps to projectize
So here’s how you might go about turning what you’ve got into projects.
1. Pick something
You’ve likely heard me talk about your Great Work Project before. So let’s start there. What’s one area you’d like to focus on for the next little while. What’s an outcome you’d like to see? (I’ve got two right now: my new book; and getting one of our programs online.)
2. Define a milestone
The bad news is that you can’t really control the outcome – it’s at the whim of the universe, no matter how much you try and control it. But it does set a vision that might inspire and cajole you forward, something to keep the fires burning.
So for writing my book, my milestones have been finding a great agent (done), writing a solid first draft (done), and getting the book sold (on its way I think).
3. Set a “by when” date
It will be a guess, but take your best guess.
4. Define the next step
*Hat tip* to David Allen for this powerful insight: You can’t do a project, you can only do the next step.
So define the next step, do it, then define the next step, then do it, then define the next step, then do it, then define the next step, then do it, then define the next step, then do it, and you get the idea.
And now, repeat
So after you’ve done that first thing, take the next thing you’d like to work on and work through those same four steps. It might be a second phase of the first thing. Or it might be a new thing.
When you’ve turned all you can into projects, create a hierarchy about what’s a real priority. Think about abandoning the bottom 25%, or at least putting it aside for now. See if your calendar reflects the hierarchy you’ve just created.
So, in a sentence or two
Projectization creates edges. When you start, when you finish, what you striving for, what you need to do.
Projectization creates a hierarchy. You know what’s most important, and it’s easier to put your attention there.