Getting Projects Done, By Doing Less

Get more done (much more!) by focusing on only a few, select projects at a time.

So many ideas, so little time. Projects coming out of your ears, and nothing really making it to completion. Sound familiar?

Here’s an idea to get them to the finish line: Batch Those Projects!

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve probably got some outstanding ideas and projects rolling around in your head, and more popping up everyday! The problem is getting them completed. It’s not that you have a shortage of ideas – you’ve got notebooks, files, post-its and lists of ideas and projects. Rather, it’s that you have a shortage of projects that actually get done.    

The solution? Focus on a handful at a time.

I heard a speaker at a local event who talked about this concept, and it made a lot of sense to me. The "productivity guru" David Allen has talked about how to track projects, and there’s no doubt that his raging fans love the way he handles tasks. I’ve got a simpler idea when it comes to projects, and it can potentially revolutionize your productivity:

Do less of them at one time.

Here’s how it goes:

1. Keep a Running Project List

Keep it in one place, where you can get to it. Use a notebook, whiteboard, easel pad or a Google Doc, but get them out of your head and in a place you know they will be when you’re ready for them. When you first set up this list, just do a brain dump. Sit down and think of every project you want or need to do, and get it written down. Don’t feel one way or another about it, just get them listed.   

Once you have the list, go back and put a star by the most urgent projects. Think of the starred projects as "on deck" (or whatever sports analogy you prefer). The other important thing to remember with this list is to revisit it occasionally, crossing off the completed projects, adding new ones and eliminating as you see fit.

2. Mindmap or Chart Out Those Projects

Mindmapping is a great way to get things down on paper. It’s simple to do: on one piece of paper, write down the name of your project in the center. Put a circle around it. Then, write down the tasks associated with it, all around the project. Once that is done, pick one of the tasks that you are going to work on this week, and circle it.

If you prefer a little more linear approach, put the title of your project at the top, listing the associated tasks below (in no particular order). Put a star by the tasks you’ll work on this week.

3. Keep it Down to No More Than 3 Projects

I know, I know, you’ve got a lot to do. The key here is focus. It’s been proven that multi-tasking is not the best idea, and I believe that applies to projects as well. Yep, you heard it here: Let’s stop the over-the-top-multi-projecting and get a few done at a time.

This allows you to really focus in and not only get the important things done, but do them to the best of your ability. You have more creativity when it’s not spread out so thinly. Change up your mind map every couple weeks, and cross off the completed projects off your running list. It will feel great as you see the progress!

So, try it out, see what you think. Focus on a few projects, track them and see where you end up. You’ll be surprised how you can complete more projects by doing less. Funny how that works…

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