August 2, 2013

Get To Work

What is your strategy for managing big projects? This is a weakness of mine: not procrastination, per se, but psyching myself out to think that projects are bigger than they really are (and thus, avoiding them).

Thankfully, Bob Pozen comes to the rescue with a few tips on how to tackle big to-dos. (Full disclosure: I have a little enormous crush on Mr. Pozen with his Harvard creds, financial know-how and dreamy hair.)

1. What's the hold up? Identify the stumbling block that keeps you from starting in the first place. Is it fear of difficulty? Worries that you don't have the necessary resources to succeed? Perhaps success is not clearly defined? Figure out what holds you back, brainstorm or research your way around it and MOVE ON.

2. Contrary to Julie Andrews, don't start at the very beginning. Spend time thinking about the ultimate outcome and work backwards. Keeping the endgame in mind allows the project's strategies and tactics to be focused and efficient at all stages of development and implementation. There is nothing worse than realizing you've been chasing a red herring that leads you nowhere...

3. We've all heard it before: perfection is the enemy of the good. I am especially susceptible here. I want the best every time, even to my own detriment (and insanity). Mr. Pozen also shares my spirit of Sanity with a Paycheck and he says STOP! If the opportunity of time or additional resources is there at the finish, you can always go back to tweak or edit. In the meantime, stay on task and keep moving forward. Chances are no one will notice the wobbles anyway.

4. Teamwork. Every successful big project needs a successful team. Every person should play a role and every leader should delegate according to the skills and assets of his or her teammates. Mr. Pozen suggests another important benefit of teamwork that I never thought of: accountability. If everyone is emotionally invested in the outcome, chances are far greater that they will contribute in equal measure to achieve success. 

5. Carrot>Stick. Deadlines motivate some, but usually in a negative way ("OMG! IT'S DUE TOMORROW!") Reward-based motivation spurs action early. Identify milestones in advance and properly reward yourself when you get there.

Want to learn more? Check out Mr. Pozen's book "Extreme Productivity: Boost your Results, Reduce Your Hours" here and also's feature on big project productivity tips here.