I'm the kind of person who always has 10 major projects going at once. After many years of finding this frustrating, I've come to terms with the fact that my brain never shuts off and that I will always have more ideas than I have time to complete.
However, there are moments when the amount of work needed to successfully complete a project can be overwhelming to me, especially if I have a great deal going on personally as well.
So, how do I move forward when I feel like I have no idea what to do first? And how can you succeed in whatever you are working on? Here's my strategy:
1. Stop everything.
When you have so much to do, stopping everything seems counter-intuitive. However, I've found that if I just stop trying to push forward on something that just seems too much at that moment and walk away completely, solutions seem to flow in without my conscious effort.
In fact, some of my best ideas come when I am in the shower, drying my hair, or taking a drive! I always wondered why this was, and it turns out that there's science which backs up why this works. Psychology professor Alejandro Lleras proved that brief interruptions are critical to feeling refreshed and refocused; as Lleras said, "deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused."
2. Break your big goal into manageable pieces.
If you were faced with the prospect of running a marathon right now with no training, it would not only be completely overwhelming, but also likely impossible. However, if you set a goal to run a marathon in six months, then broke down your training days into manageable chunks, gradually upping your mileage, it's totally doable. Before you know it, you'd be crossing the finish line.
It's the same for any goal. If you want to make a million dollars this year, that can seem insanely outrageous. If you break that down into how much you need to make a month, then focus on how many clients that takes, then focus on the amount of marketing you need to do to attract that many clients—well, before you know it, you've got a manageable game plan.
Here's how I do this:
I take my goals, then break each big goal into the steps I need to complete in order to achieve that goal. I write down each step on a post-it note and stick it, in order of first to last, on a poster board. I then estimate the amount of time each goal will take to complete. Finally, I schedule the various steps into my weekly schedule.
I also have a poster board for things that need to be done each week, such as writing articles for various sites or recording videos. I have a post-it note for each thing that needs to be completed and stick those on the "to do" board. When I complete each, I move it to the "completed" board.
I do it this way because it helps me to be able to see everything physically in front of me. I also get more satisfaction from moving a post-it note to the completed board than I do just checking it as complete on my computer.
However, if you are the kind of person that prefers having everything computerized, you can do the same thing with lots of apps out there. For instance, you could do the same with Evernote by tagging something as to-do and then completed. Another I like is WorkFlowy.com, but there are many others that would be just as useful.
Which goals need to be completed first? Are there steps you need to take before you can get to a certain project? Do you simply feel more inspired by one project than another?
Look at all your major projects and rank them in order of priority. Then, focus on the steps necessary to complete those projects first. Once you complete those steps, move on to your second priority, and so on.
4. Be consistent.
Keep focused on checking things off your list and do so on a consistent basis. Keep your appointments with yourself to complete the steps to your success.
By doing this, before you know it, you will end up a massive success!
How do you break down your goals for success? I'd love to hear your suggestions!