As much as I hate the word overwhelmed, there are too many of us feeling that way. You’re about to be surprised by the main reason you’re feeling that way. I can almost promise you that it’s because you’re working on too many projects at once.
I hope you’re not part of this group. If you are then read on and find out why having more than one or two projects at a time is a really bad idea.
Do you have too many bright shiny objects in your life?
If you’re anything like me it’s just too easy for you to get distracted on things that look interesting and could provide value for your firm and clients. At the same time if this sounds like you I want you to stop and think. I want you to ask yourself whether this is what you really want to be doing.
Let’s face it bringing a project to completion is hard work. In many cases it’s much easier to just start something new and leave the project you’ve got open half done. Before long you’re going to have dozens of open projects with none of them ever getting to completion.
Go slow to go fast.
I know this strategy is counter intuitive. The truth is when you slow yourself down and think about what it is you want to accomplish you end up going much faster.
This also happens when you focus on one project at a time. The reason is very simple. You’re not charging from one project to another. Instead, you’re spending all of your time focusing in a narrow range and you’ll move through that range much more quickly when you stop trying to multi-task.
Are your projects important?
In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey presented a grid that I just love. The four quadrants are:
- Important and Urgent
- Important and Not Urgent
- Urgent but not Important
- Not Urgent and Not Important
I hope you’re spending your time in the Important and Not Urgent quadrant. That’s where the really good things happen. It’s where you get to plan for how you want things to turn out.
If you spend time on projects that fall in any of the other quadrants you are either wasting your time or working in a reactive manner. Wouldn’t you just rather spend time working on projects that can have a positive impact on your world? I know I would.
Realize you only have a few hours a week to work on projects.
I bet you’re really busy at work. I also bet that most of your time is already spoken for. Any project work that you do has to fit in between client meetings and activities that are already on your schedule.
When you focus on just one thing at a time, you’re going to be able to move forward. You won’t feel guilty about all the things you’re not getting to. Doesn’t that sound like a more attractive way to spend your time?
Chunk your projects down.
Make sure you break your project down to small pieces. That way you get parts of it done on a regular basis. You’ll even find that as you chunk down your projects you start getting outcomes from them much sooner than you thought possible.
When you look at a great big project it’s just too easy to become frozen by how much has to be done. If instead you break your project down to smaller pieces it won’t feel as big and scary. I like to make progress and chunking down helps me do that.
Learn what’s done-done is.
My friend Chris Lema was the first person I ever heard use this term.
It just makes so much sense to me. Too often we get 80 or 90% of a project done and then think that it’s actually done. We know there is more to do and we never get around to actually finishing. Done-done allows you to move past the 90% done and move your project and mini-projects to full completion.
If you only accept done-done you won’t feel guilty and you’ll find that you move more quickly through other parts of your project.
Are you willing to give up trying to juggle lots of projects at once? Do you think there’s a chance that there’s a better way? Give it a try, I bet you’ll find you get a lot more done way more quickly.