When working with builders as a coach and mentor, one of the most frequent complaints I hear is an ongoing frustration with their inability to accomplish administrative and/or creative projects (versus individual tasks) and get them operating effectively in a reasonable period of time. All my clients have a huge list of significant projects and programs that need to be accomplished, and an equally long list of the problems, people, and distractions which consistently interfere with the successful implementation of these programs.
So, what is the secret to the removal of these roadblocks? Basically, it is the creation of a protocol for determining the objectives of the new program, and the subsequent organization of these objectives into individual definitive tasks, each with its own measurable criteria.
This protocol must be complete and include the following:
? Define the primary and secondary objectives of the program.
? Create a list, in approximate time-line order, of the individual tasks required to accomplish those objectives.
? Review the list, and if possible consult with others, in an attempt to make sure nothing is missing. Don’t be frustrated by the fact that as you work on the individual tasks, they will often spawn unthought-of subtasks that will also have to be accomplished.
? Estimate the time required for each of the tasks on the list. If any one task requires more than a few hours, break it down into smaller tasks.
? Create a simple flow chart to help you understand which tasks are sequential, and which can be accomplished concurrently. Remember that without collaborators all tasks automatically become sequential.
? If you are going to have others involved, either as assistants or sub-project managers, determine their strengths and weaknesses, and assign responsibilities accordingly. Have a frank and honest discussion with any such collaborators about your expectations of quality and timeliness. If there is disagreement about resources or time required, make sure that you reach a consensus on the final expectations of the deliverables.
? Based upon the individual task estimates, and your vision of the project task sequence, establish a project completion date. Allow for some minor glitches, but set a goal for completion that is achievable, yet challenging. Nothing great was ever accomplished with a lackadaisical attitude, and if the project is important enough to receive a commitment of time and resources from your organization, it is important enough to get done as expeditiously as possible.
? Monitor your progress, and/or the progress of your team, to make sure that the project is moving along as it should. If so, motivate yourself and/or your collaborators with small rewards, primarily praise. If not, determine any obstacles, and develop strategies to remove or circumvent them. Like so many things in life, success is very often about momentum. Do not let the project stall. If you can’t resolve a problem in a particular task, continue forward with the balance of the project, even as you look for solutions.
? Set aside, on a regular basis, (I prefer daily), a reasonable block of time (minimum of 45 minutes to an hour) for the accomplishment of tasks related to long-term success. Do not allow the problems of the moment to interfere with your commitment to the future.
The real problem with accomplishing significant projects is not the interruptions or the “too busy” about which most people complain. It’s the inability to deal with something that, on the surface, appears so time consuming and so complex, that you can’t conceive of how to fit it into “the interruptions and the busy.”
With a system for making the large project a series of small projects, you will find it much easier to finally get going.