Why should you plan on what to do when projects get stuck?

So you’ve prioritized and planned your project, and it’s on its way to completion. That’s excellent news, but no matter how carefully you plan and schedule, something will come up that will cause your project to be delayed, if not altogether stopped. And, just as engineers must account for the forces that cause automobiles and planes to slow down, you must be aware of the things and situations that may arise and impede your development.

For starters, there are priorities. Unfortunately, you aren’t the only one who has them; others have as well, and their priorities are the ones that will most certainly slow you down if you allow them. Let’s say your father contacts you right before you start work. He wants to catch up, but he’ll have to sacrifice your productivity to do so. What options do you have?

Understand the numerous causes that can cause your project to delay or cease. The good news is that clashing priorities can be managed. It can be as simple as scheduling time for things you’re willing to do; for example, you could tell your father you’re busy and schedule the conversation for later. However, it’s essential to be upfront about the things you don’t want to do. When someone asks if you want to do anything, don’t provide a hesitant “maybe”; instead, say no right away.

The various ways in which projects become stalled are also important to be aware of. One is cascades, which occur when one project lags behind, leading subsequent projects to delay or stop. The best strategy to deal with them is to prioritize the project that started the cascade as well as any other projects that must be completed.

Then, in the future, commit to fewer initiatives. Limiting the number of projects also helps to avoid logjams, which occur when you are unable to complete anything on time due to a large number of open projects. If you get stuck, focus on the pieces that will help you make the most progress on each job.

Your project won’t simply get trapped with tarpits; it’ll stay stuck. The longer this drags on, the more difficult it will be to get back to work on the project. Starting moving and then keeping moving is the key to getting out of a tar pit. Break down the project into smaller chunks, and commit to finishing one in the next three days — and working on it at least twice a week after that.

Here’s a typical scenario: You establish a significant goal for yourself to achieve, such as losing weight or learning a new language. The prospect of actually accomplishing your objective excites you, and you can’t wait to get started. So you design a strategy and get to work on it.

But there’s a catch: you can’t get into a rhythm. On some days, you accomplish everything you set out to achieve, but on others, you can’t seem to get anything done. If you keep going in this direction, you’ll never achieve your goal. You must develop momentum to make progress, and to do so, you must take regular and purposeful steps. When you’re working on your best work endeavor, it’s the same.

The main point is that effective tactics and routines help you get traction. There is only so much time in a day, but if you use it well, you can get a lot done. Batching or stacking tasks is one technique to accomplish this. Batching entails completing comparable chores in one sitting, such as making phone calls.

This cuts down on the amount of time and mental energy required to switch between tasks. By mixing diverse activities, such as going on a hike with people interested in your project and discussing it along the way, stacking saves time.

Don’t forget about the jobs you need to accomplish but don’t want to do while batching and stacking. These are known as frogs, a term coined by novelist Mark Twain. “If you have to swallow a frog, consume it first thing in the morning,” Twain recommended. And this is how you should deal with project frogs: as quickly as possible. Thinking about them for an extended period of time just adds to your stress and dread, detracting time and energy from your endeavor.

Scheduling work at the proper time is another approach to boost your efficiency and momentum. Despite the popular belief that “the early bird gets the worm,” not everyone works effectively in the morning. In the afternoon, some people have more focus and energy. Others are more productive at night. When you schedule critical tasks for when you’re at your most alert and energized, you’ll be able to make faster and more consistent progress.

Making it simple to return to your tasks is also beneficial to maintaining momentum. Create a crumb trail at the end of each work session to accomplish this. This could be a reminder for your next move or a simple assignment. You won’t waste time or feel lost at the start of your work sessions if you make this a habit.

You’ll finally finish your best work project after weeks or months of hard work! This is a happy and proud time for me. So, naturally, you should rejoice – not just for yourself, but also for the friends, family, and members of your support team who encouraged you and assisted you. They, too, deserve a chance to celebrate your success, which you might provide by announcing it or commemorating it with a meal or gathering.

However, you should not limit your celebrations to just one day. It’s also critical to take some time off and prepare for the next endeavor. Make time after you’ve finished your project to recover, tidy up, and learn from it.

The thrill of completing one job may tempt you to leap immediately into the next, but it’s critical to give yourself some breathing room in between. After all, you invest time, work, passion, and energy into your initiatives, and the larger they become, the more weary you become.

Taking some time off before starting another activity also allows you to clean up. Working on a project wreaks havoc on your physical surroundings, digital workspace, and social life. As a result, cleaning, archiving, and clearing away in each region is critical. If you wait, you’ll almost certainly have to deal with it during your next assignment, which isn’t ideal.

Anything left over from what you’ve just finished that you don’t need should be thrown away in the physical and digital realms, and the rest should be saved for later use or categorized for simple access. Consider any relationships you may have neglected or commitments you need to keep in your social life.

An after-action review, or AAR, is another useful exercise to include into your downtime. AARs are used in the US Army to evaluate training exercises and learn from them. You can benefit from the experience of completing a project if you have your own version.

Consider not only the project, but also the people, procedures, and tools involved when conducting an AAR. Then consider what went well, what you learnt, and what obstacles, blunders, and lessons you encountered.

Take note of any habits, routines, techniques, or events that have helped you advance and make a difference. Every AAR will teach you something that will make your next best work project go more smoothly.

Your best work — the job that helps you thrive – is hinted at by the ideas you can’t seem to find time for. You can begin undertaking this work by converting these ideas into projects and SMART targets. Divide your projects into tiny chunks that you can finish in a series of weekly focus blocks to make time for them. To maintain momentum, work when you have the most concentration and energy, complete difficult chores as soon as possible, and devise simple strategies to return to your work.

The main tip from the book, Start Finishing, is to play to your strengths to make your project go more smoothly. If you’re like most people, you make things more difficult for yourself by not utilizing your talents – your knowledge, your passions, and your natural abilities. Working without them merely adds to your challenges and limits your potential. However, if you begin by determining which of your skills may be applied to a project, you can cut down on the time and effort required to finish it.

Check out my related post: Can productivity management techniques still be conducive to creative work?

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