6 Methodical Ways to Handle Large-Scale Work & Long-Term Projects SUCCESSFULLY (pt.1)
Sometimes a little jolt in productivity isn’t enough, right? Sometimes, especially when it comes to doing MAJOR projects like a new website, children’s program or whatever, you need stronger skills that’ll leverage your productivity past just another session or two…the reality is you need an entirely different APPROACH.
So here’s quite a few methods that I use to handle my large scale work (this blog specifically). It’ll be in two sessions: today we’ll cover four that are mostly about approach, and tomorrow we’ll cover two that are more concrete, practical techniques. Enjoy…
Method #1: Realize That It Actually IS Big
This might sound silly, but I’ve found that most people don’t even realize they’re signing themselves up for large-scale work to begin with. Personally, I believe the ability to consciously register how much (and the type of) work a new project entails is a discrete skill learned over time, because most people just have a “good idea” and go about it completely at random.
“I remember starting a writer’s group a few years ago: when I told a poet friend of mine about it, his immediate response was ‘Yeah, you know I can get you set up at such-and-such venue, and my man does promotion, so we can even get it popping on campus and start a whole poetry-movement!!!’
I said, ‘Well, that sounds good but uh…let’s just see how the first meeting goes and take it from there.‘” ~ from an old radio show I did about productivity and self-discipline
This is one of those things that’s obvious to point out, but still difficult to catch yourself forgetting. First REALIZE that your getting “amped up” about something that’s involved, then STOP and pace yourself into it. (In the example above, I just had one meeting and decided it was unnecessary).
To be honest, we’re actually being childlike when we’re overly-enthusiastic about a project just because it sounds cool: we’re forgetting that everything costs resources. This isn’t an entirely bad thing, I just want you to see it for what it is so you can control that tendency.
So be realistic: think about whether you really want to nominate yourself for all that work, and whether you have the time and money to do so in the first place. If you’re not sure, phase your way into it slowly and experiment before you make any serious (or public, or financial) commitments.
It’s not the most pleasant way to use your imagination, but it’s worth it. If the project was meant to be, you’ll make it through this phase stronger and more level-headed.
2/3: Benefit-Focus for the Mid-Term, MASTERY-Focus for the Long-Term
What I mean here is a lot simpler then it sounds: if you’re working on something that’ll take a couple of months, focus on all the rewards and benefits, but if you’re working on something that’ll take several YEARS, focus on mastering the craft it’s based on instead.
I’m focused on being the best writer and teacher I can possibly be, not really having a well-trafficked blog, but when it comes to finishing my first book, I’m focused on the income, accreditation and leverage it’ll provide me. Make sense???
Think about how long something will take, and structure how you motivate yourself with that in mind. Generally, if a project needs a few weeks or months (like a term-paper), focusing on benefits is good because it pushes you past your normal limitations, but if a project needs a significant portion of your life (like a martial art), focusing on mastery is good because it becomes part of your maturity as a person. For more on mid-term motivation, see here, and for more on long-term motivation, see here.
Method #4: Use Automation, Structure and Routine
AUTOMATE AND ROUTINIZE EVERYTHING YOU POSSIBLY CAN, and even if something isn’t “automatable,” make it as structured as humanly possible.
For instance, if you have to get people on the phone and talk, HAVE A SCRIPT…I don’t mean “stick to” a script, obviously, but have a general outline (written down somewhere) of how the conversation is supposed to go. It’ll save you the psychic energy of having to build yourself up to the task each time.
If you’ve ever had telemarketing or canvassing (door-to-door) gig you know what I’m talking about. Businesses structure and automate major tasks in order to take make processes more efficient.
Another aspect of this is to do everything at the same time each day, because once you have a habit of doing something at a certain time every single day it builds a life of its own and gets easier to do.
If you think about it, what I’m really saying here is “be a machine,” which sounds messed up on the surface, but it’s also why the industrial revolution was so profitable and productive: people eventually realized “Hey, we could produce A LOT more stuff if we automate and mechanize all these processes.” So structure and routine is the reason we have cars, the printing press, refrigerators and everything else…our whole standard of living is based on automation, actually.
Remember, automate and structure your work until it becomes a habit: do the same exact things in the same exact way at the same exact time every day (or every week) and watch it free up your physical energy and take almost NO mental energy at all…people will be literally AMAZED at how much you’re able to get done.
Check back tomorrow for more tips on handling large-scale work and long-term projects, and leave a comment below letting me know your thoughts. How do you handle long-term stuff???