Sometimes I feel overwhelmed when considering the scope of a big project. Getting started is often the hardest part – and it can be tempting to spend time on smaller, easier tasks to avoid tackling the elephant in the room.
Sooner or later, you have to get the ball rolling. So here are some tips for buckling down when a project requires your complete focus.
• Break it up into manageable pieces: Separate sections and develop a timeline for working on each one. For example, schedule Sections 1 and 2 on Tuesday; Sections 3 and 4 on Wednesday, and so on. For me, splitting up one big project into several little ones almost always makes the big picture seem more achievable.
This also works great if you need input from others on certain areas. If Janet’s insight would be helpful on Section 2, you can aim to schedule a meeting with her on Tuesday so her advice is fresh in your mind when you’re working on that section.
• Block out chunks of time: I typically block out two or three hours first thing in the morning to work on just that one project. As with anything that requires focus, you want to avoid going back-and-forth between your big priority and other things – that kills momentum.
• Limit distractions: Don’t check your email every time it pings. Don’t answer your phone every time it rings. If you get to the office at 8AM, make it a point to check your email at 11. For the three hours in between, that project is your only concern. If there truly is an urgent issue, people will find a way to let you know.
• Take breaks: Even if it’s just a walk to the kitchen or around the block. I’m always amazed at the new things that occur to me while I’m taking a lap around the building. Something about getting up and away from my desk after working on something for a while seems to clear mental roadblocks.
• Give yourself time to review: If at all possible, it’s always best to sleep on it before sending your work to the masses. How many times have I left the office thinking a project was close to done only to have a new idea on the drive home, or catch a huge error the following morning? More than I can count!
So build in some wiggle room for yourself and the rest of your team to take a close look and make any changes.
For more tips on finding focus, check out this article from Inc.com: 5 Tips to Help You Hyper Focus