How to Take Charge of Overwhelming Projects

You know you need to tackle that high-priority project, but you make a few phone calls, sort through yesterday's mail, and before you know it, it's lunchtime. Even the most focused people tend to put off getting to work on overwhelming projects - maybe because of the size of the project, the complexity, difficulty - or all three.

Get a clear picture of the entire project and prepare a step-by-step plan for completing it. When you think about doing something on the project, don't focus on the entire project, instead, focus on a quick five-minute task or a small work session. When you are not in the mood to work on the project, do a quick task to two anyway. When you are in the mood, dive in and do as much as you can. This will keep you moving forward until the day that overwhelming project is complete.

Here are a few ideas to help you complete and stay organized during those overwhelming projects:

  1. Organize Projects Into Manageable Segments: Begin by making a written project-planning list. List the major segments of the project.

  2. Break Major Projects Into Task Sessions: After you identify some manageable segments see if you can’t break them into task sessions. At this point, ask yourself such questions as: (a) Should I or can I delegate some of the tasks to co-workers? (b) Can some tasks be overlapped or done simultaneously?

    Estimate the starting and completion dates of each task. Schedule these tasks and sessions on your calendar or on your to-do to list and stick to the schedule.

  3. Get Started With Quick Tasks: Quick tasks can be done in five minutes or so. This will keep you motivated and keep you on track for your completion date. Follow these tips for quick tasks:

    • Contact someone to get the information that you need to prepare the project.
    • Spend a few moments planning some procedures for the project.
    • Set up a simple filing system for the project. This can be very helpful throughout the project and at the project's completion.
    • Locate sources of information and/or materials either through reference guides or by using the Internet (make sure you bookmark those Internet reference sites).
  4. Use Other Tricks To Keep You Motivated: Do the most unpleasant task first. Take advantage of your current mood. List the advantages and disadvantages of starting now, usually the disadvantages are trivial. Ask yourself why you are not progressing, and make a commitment to yourself to get back on track.

  5. Reward Yourself For Making Progress: When you begin a session or task, make every effort to complete it. When you do, savor the moment and congratulate yourself and take the time to enjoy that satisfaction. This will help reinforce a sense of closure and satisfaction each time you work on the project.

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