Overwhelm can take over your life if you let it. When you are good at seeing the enormous possibilities inherent in any given project and how far it might take you, it’s easy to get scared. But, you don’t want to let that scared feeling of overwhelm get the most of you and stop you in your tracks.
Separate the Trees from the Forest
Instead of just focusing on the main end result of the project, it’s important to be able to define each milestone along the way. You do need to start with the end of the project, the part that makes you nervous, and call that the forest. Then work your way back and create smaller milestones. These will enable you to check up on the project over time but take that big picture result out of view for a while, enabling you to look at each tree along your path.
Who’s on First?
Deciding what the first steps of any project can be difficult. But, once you’ve broken a project down to a few manageable chunks without thinking about the big picture for a moment, you can figure out what the first steps are. For instance, if you’re baking a cake, you don’t try to start with frosting it. No, you first preheat the oven, then you grease the pans, then you measure out the ingredients and so forth. It’s the same thing for any project you want to complete. Something has to be first and something has to be last. Break it down until you find that first step.
Understand the Elements of Project Management
All projects follow the same path to completion. First you evaluate the scope of the project, then you break it down into smaller chunks, you determine resources available for the project chunks, you allocate resources, then you create a to-do list, then you do, and of course you periodically you check your results. Right? It doesn’t matter how large a project is; if you focus on these elements you’ll be successful every time.
It’s super easy to convince yourself you’re doing something and making progress on a big picture item if you’re busy all the time. But it’s important during your planning process that you define what doing is. Everything on your “to do” list should be an action item that has some form of results. Training is not doing. If you don’t know how to do something, yes, you’ll need to take time out to train, but that is part of defining and creating resources, not part of doing.
When you can break down any project into smaller chunks you’ll find that every project is doable. As long as you understand what a successful deliverable looks like, what resources are needed, who will do what, when, where and how it will be done, success will be possible. Just take a step back and start at the end, moving toward today which is when you’ll make your first step.