By Jennifer Wilson
Tell me if this sounds about right?
You have a brilliant new idea in the shower. You sit down to start researching domain names and competitors.
Fireworks are happening and you know this is the idea you’ve been waiting for… except you had planned to spend today finishing up that other project.
Creatives often feel called to follow their inspirations, wanting to strike while the iron is hot. What can result, unfortunately, is a long list of half-completed projects coupled with disappointment about time squandered.
Fortunately, there’s a way to achieve balance between leveraging your brilliance and making sure each project gets completed.
Four Steps to Finishing a Project
Step 1. Create an Idea Bank
To ensure that distractions don’t squash your productivity, make sure that you have a designated home for those inevitable new ideas. Whether it’s a whole new project or just a task, hold those thoughts for later.
Your idea bank can be an Asana project, Evernote notebook, Google document, or even just a special page in the back of your paper planner. Set it up now so those new ideas have a home, then schedule a regular time to review your idea bank.
Step 2. Stop Feeling Guilty
Frustration, guilt, and disappointment about the past needs to be left there. Negative feelings won’t help you move forward and only diminish the progress you have made. The easiest way to finish a project is to let go and start right where you are.
In practice, that means setting a new due date instead of letting that “Due: 6 months ago” hang over your head. Today becomes Day 1.
Step 3. Figure Out Why & Pivot
If a project isn’t finished, there’s usually a reason why. Distraction by new ideas is often a symptom that something isn’t working, rather than simply a personal weakness.
Instead of staying stuck, look for opportunities to make a project course correction. A small pivot is often all that it takes to get back on track. Here are some of the common pivots you can consider:
If the project doesn’t feel exciting, try:
- remembering why you started the project,
- delegating or outsourcing portions, or
- swapping out or rearranging components.
If the project feels overwhelming, try:
- focusing on baby steps towards the end goal,
- breaking it down into manageable sub-projects, or
- looking for opportunities to simplify.
If you can’t find time for the project, try:
- evaluating if you have too much on your plate,
- planning time specifically for this project, or
- using a timer to be productive in short bursts.
Step 4. Create a Plan
With a rough idea in mind of what needs to get done and what you might change to achieve that, the final step is to create a written plan. When you keep projects entirely in your head, details can get lost and it’s difficult to know where you are.
A project plan doesn’t have to be complicated, but should include why this project matters, what you’re trying to accomplish, and an outline of how you will get there.
Click here to download a free project planning worksheet.
You can refer to your plan when enthusiasm dwindles or you need to work on your project in batches. It will keep you moving towards the finish line, where you can tackle that next brilliant idea.
Back to You
What project are you working on these days? What takeaway from the article will help you to move your project closer to the finish line?
Jennifer Wilson is an educator and coach dedicated to helping women simplify their scrapbooking hobby. She is the founder of Simple Scrapper, a community offering purposeful tools and support for joyful, uncomplicated memory keeping.