April 5

Break your projects down like a ninja

There is nothing worse than staring at your to-do list and seeing in bold letters some huge project, like “Write journal article” or “Edit dissertation” or “Overhaul website.” How will I ever complete such a large project when I can barely devote a couple of hours a day to the project? It's good to know the larger project that we want to ultimately accomplish, but in order to complete a project it's best to take a couple of steps:

  1. Yes, do being with visualizing your ultimate goal. Saying to yourself, “Write every day on such-and-such topic” sounds a bit boring and perhaps pointless. Instead, “Write a book on such-and-such topic” will motivate you more.
  2. Break down that large project into smaller steps and add estimated completion dates to each step. “Write chapter 1 by May 31, 2013.”
  3. If necessary, break down those smaller steps into micro steps, also with estimated completion dates. Continue breaking down the steps until you have actions that can be completed in one day. “Write 750 words of chapter 1 by April 6, 2013.”
  4. Create a visual to help you keep track of the progress you're making on each step. To-do lists are great, but I love percentages and graphs. (Weird for a qualitative girl, I know, but percentages and graphs are just so darn useful.)
  5. Xcel has a free templates (here), and I think I found one that might push my productivity (or at least my accountability) up a notch or two.

    In this template, you can track multiple projects, create steps for each project, and deadlines for each step. As you check off steps, the graph changes to reflect how far you have progressed in your project.

    You can add as many small steps in a project as you like.

    Download this awesome template here.

    What about you? Leave a comment below with your favorite tips and tricks for breaking down large projects into completable pieces.


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