How to Make Big Projects Manageable
Business owners know that procrastination comes in many forms. Some of my personal favorites include:
- That task is so boring! Even though it’ll only take me 10 minutes to complete, I think I’ll scroll through Instagram for at least 20 minutes before tackling it.
- I should totally delegate that work … but haven’t yet, so I’m gonna put it off. For ages.
- Well, I’ve avoided that project for two months already. Why get started now?
And, of course, one that surfaces for nearly ALL entrepreneurs is scale-related procrastination, A.K.A., “Ugh, I know I need to dig into that project, but it’s so huge I don’t even know where to start!”
Some of our most important, brand-building, business-expanding work comes in the form of giant, multi-armed projects that feel too overwhelming to begin. Where’s our entry point? How can we navigate the entire undertaking without getting frustrated and sidetracked? We look for any excuse to avoid getting started, even though we know the work will be valuable once we finally do.
I’m here to give you a simple method for dividing up your biggest, most daunting projects so you can attack them one manageable chunk at a time. (You can thank me later.)
Let’s do this!
Identify the elements of the larger project
Before you start the game, you’ve gotta know the players.
Brainstorm all of the elements that make up the larger project, and list them out. To do this, mentally walk through the project as best you can, starting with the first task that logically comes to mind. As you work your way through, you may realize that your initial Step 1 should really become Step 4, since there are three tasks that must be completed first.
Don’t worry about order too much right now, just jot down everything you can think of that needs to be done. If you’re planning a new product launch some of your list items might include sales page creation, shopping cart setup, printables, video recording, slideshow creation, etc.
Estimate time needed for each task
Next categorize each task by type (writing, design, promotion, social media) so you can see clearly both how many tasks fall into each bucket, and who on your team might help handle them. Then ballpark how long each list item will take to complete, for example:
Graphics creation (1 week)
Content writing (10 days)
Tech/backend buildout (3 days)
Document design (1 week)
If you’ve got a contractor in mind for any of these tasks, you can write that person’s name next to the task. Bear in mind that these are just estimates … but also remember that most work takes longer than we think it will! Err on the side of giving yourself some wiggle room to complete each step.
Sketch out the workflow
Now, let’s talk timing. You’ve got all the puzzle pieces identified, and considered how much time to allot to each. Next you need to fit them together in a timeline that’s both logical and manageable.
For instance you can’t do the document design until the writing is done, and you can’t record videos until the slides are created. If it helps, write each task on a sticky note or index card so you can reshuffle them around until you’ve got a workflow that makes sense. (This is a great trick for visual thinkers like me!)
Reverse-engineer your calendar
Finally, it’s time to assign some concrete due dates to all of these tasks! The best way to do this is to work backwards:
Assign your project a due date based on when it should be live or complete to best benefit your business. Then look at the tasks that need to occur just before launch, and add them to the calendar. Then schedule the group that comes just before that set, and so on. Map out each element to ensure you have enough time to complete it – and the entire project – by your desired due date.
Simple, right? This system makes even months-long, whole-team, transformative projects feel possible. And again, since the majority of our deep work as entrepreneurs is done when we tackle large-scale ventures, we need to make sure we don’t procrastinate on them indefinitely!
Here’s a super easy way to tackle those overwhelming projects: use someone else’s project plans. Inside my Goddess Boss Academy I have dozens of step-by-step plans (complete with calendars!) that you can use in your own business. Customize them to fit your needs, then hand them off to your VA and watch the magic happen.