To keep growing our businesses, we must launch projects. And sometimes projects take a long time. It is often hard to remain motivated and keep moving forward despite the tedium of working day in and day out without any visible results. Nevertheless, we must continue: here is where the rubber meets the road.
The Eisenhower Matrix (please see Transforming Your To-Do List with the Eisenhower Matrix) states that we should work on essential tasks that are not urgent constantly until we complete them. And that is how many projects are: important but not urgent. Suppose you want to launch a new website for your company; nothing will likely happen if you do not implement it in the following week or the immediate future. However, if you do not work at it consistently, you might leave it for later and then come to a point where your company had stopped growing because you did not upgrade your platform when the time was right.
So, creating the know-how for managing these types of projects is critical. Here are a few tips that might help.
1. Set Aside a Time
The first thing is to make the space in your schedule because having a designated time to move ahead with your projects will make all the difference. Setting aside the time is easier said than done, as external demands can take control of our schedules, and creating spaces of time to work on our essential projects takes determination.
I recommend first experimenting with what times work best for you. I am a fan of the mornings, as I prefer to take advantage of my highest energy and productivity levels. As Mark Twain said:
If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.
Our minds are fresh in the morning, ready to take on our most challenging tasks (or frogs, as Mark Twain would say).
After you have determined what the best time for you is, block that time in your schedule. It might be hard to manage at first, but, with time, you and those around you will know that that space is untouchable.
2. Create a Checklist
Once you have a designated time established, create a daily checklist of the projects you are managing. Suppose you have three projects you are working on simultaneously, which will take you between three months to a year to finish. The best way to make sure you complete them is to work backward from your goal to see how much you need to complete each day. If one of your targets, for example, is to write a book, figure out approximately how much time you need to write every day.
A checklist will help you keep track that you are completing your daily goals. Plus, it is always so satisfying putting a check in a little box, as it can feel like a reward for doing the work.
3. Check How Far Along You Are
According to Ayelet Fishbach in her article How to Keep Working When You’re Just Not Feeling It, we tend to experience a slump or lower motivation towards the middle whenever we are working on projects. One way to work through this tendency is to be aware of the progress you have made until you are about halfway through. Once you have passed your project’s beginning, you can measure how much you have left to complete. These two little tricks will help you get through the lack of motivation we tend to experience toward the middle of a project.
4. Tell Others
Share your goals with as many people as possible. Being held accountable is a great way to ensure you are moving forward. With time, they will start to ask about your progress. If you have not advanced as you wanted to, this might spur you to continue. You can also find a buddy or a group that will support you along the way.
5. Celebrate the Wins and Make it Fun
And remember to celebrate! Seldom do we take the time to commemorate the big wins, let alone the small ones. Reward yourself with something you like to do when you reach a milestone – not only will it be motivating, but it will also make the process of working through a long, drawn-out project much more enjoyable.
In the end, although reaching our goals can be so satisfying, the real gold is in making our projects enjoyable. We will be more likely to engage with them, and the time we spend working will be more fun.