If you’re anything like me, then you always have a couple of projects open. It always seems like I am opening more projects than I am closing. In fact it is quite daunting when look at this ever growing mountain of work you are creating for yourself.
I want to build a guitar, create a number different web pages, create a video tutorial course, write a book, create an iphone app, finish painting the house, tile the bathroom, create a garden, buy rental properties, invest in more stocks, create a CD ladder, run a marathon, kill the remaining debt chunk, and much more. The list just keeps getting longer and longer and it is hard to get things moving along.
Some of these items are entrepreneurial while others are clearly much more personal, but the fact remains the same, I’m not accomplishing things as fast as I would like to be. It is time to start focusing on projects one at a time to get them taken out.
I’m starting with the marathon goal. Over the past two months I have been training for a half marathon. I’m a little over halfway there, and there have already been huge changes in my body. The first couple of runs were absolutely terrible. I couldn’t run very far or very fast. I had tried by starting off where I left off 10 years ago. Not a good idea.
I had a ‘long run’ of four miles one weekend that made nervous. I had no idea how I would make it as the 2 and 3 mile runs were either painful or aborted partway. I took the slow and steady approach and made it through.
Now I’ve finished my 7 ¼ mile run without any problems and 4 ½ mile runs are the standard short runs. While I still have 6 more miles to add to the long run, I have absolutely no doubts about running a half marathon.
The big problem with having to many projects open at one time is that you are always feeling behind. The reason you feel that way is because it is true! Let’s say you are working on five different projects with varying timelines from 3 weeks to 6 weeks and you only have a limited period of time to work on them (After your day job & on weekends).
Project A : 6 Weekends needed to Complete
Project B : 5 Weekends needed to Complete
Project C : 4 Weekends needed to Complete
Project D : 3 Weekends needed to Complete
Project E : 4 Weekends needed to Complete
If you were to alternate tasks each weekend the pattern would be…
Project A : 22 Weeks Taken from start of project (6 Needed)
Project B : 20 Weeks Taken from start of project (5 Needed)
Project C : 16 Weeks Taken from start of project (4 Needed)
Project D : 11 Weeks Taken from start of project (3 Needed)
Project E : 15 Weeks Taken from start of project (4 Needed)
It would take 14 weeks before the first project (D) is completed and 22 weeks until your important project (A) is complete.
Then when you add another project to the mix, it pushes out completion dates even farther across the board. If you lose interest in a project, you are more likely to add a new one and do just that. If at week 7 you add project F (4 weekend project) into the mix
Now we have added 2 weeks to the time line before project D is complete, 3 more weeks for both project B, C, and E, and project A takes forever!
Project A : 26 Weeks Taken from start of project (6 Needed)
Project B : 23 Weeks Taken from start of project (5 Needed)
Project C : 19 Weeks Taken from start of project (4 Needed)
Project D : 14 Weeks Taken from start of project (3 Needed)
Project E : 18 Weeks Taken from start of project (4 Needed)
Project F : 18 Weeks Taken from start of project (4 Needed)
These timelines are assuming a perfect system where you have absolutely no life and nothing ever happens to distract you. It’s assuming that you only work on the given tasks each weekend and nothing else. No going to baseball games, bad weather, helping people move, doing urgent and unplanned for repairs, or weekend road trips with this model. That would push things back to far.
If you were only able to work on these core projects 3 out of every 4 weekends each month (weekends not dedicated to the core projects denoted with an X), your timeline would look more like…
Now it is taking 22 weeks from now to get project D done. Project D should be done in three weeks from the day you start it. Here it is done 18 weeks after you start it.
If you were able complete your projects before new ones, the timeline would still be the same length overall, but it the efficiency per project would increase dramatically. I’ve included the X’s as side projects, real life events, mishaps, and other delays and distractions.
Project A : 7 Weeks Taken from start of project (6 Needed)
Project B : 6 Weeks Taken from start of project (5 Needed)
Project C : 5 Weeks Taken from start of project (4 Needed)
Project D : 3 Weeks Taken from start of project (3 Needed)
Project E : 5 Weeks Taken from start of project (4 Needed)
Project F : 5 Weeks Taken from start of project (4 Needed)
Now project A is opened and closed in 7 weeks. Project B is closed in 6 weeks. Each weekend the goal is to work towards completion. If you get ambitious about the next goal, you need to focus on the current task so you can go work on it.
Two areas in my life that often add projects are programming and woodworking. I’m a lot better at coming up with projects in both fields than I am at completing them. Right now I have 3 programs swimming around in my head or partially written that need to get out. I have a crib that is mostly built waiting for my to finish it. All it needs is a little more sanding and the oil put on. I’ve got two rooms in my house waiting for me to get in there and paint them.
I’ve got projects of varying lengths and complexities. Many of them have been opened and have fallen into the never ending cycle of projects. In my own project time line there are a lot more X’s than I should be allowing. It’s time for me to focus in on the projects one at a time and destroy them.
There is a bit of overlap if I define the marathon goal as project A. The amount of training each weekend takes time, but there is more than half of the day left over. As long as the training has been completed, I’ll be able to focus the remainder on project B or one of the urgent X projects.
I wonder if it says something about me that my priorities are to train for and run a half marathon, and then to prepare the nursery. =D
As I work towards the marathon, the improvements to my body and mind have been quite positive. Now that going on a run doesn’t consume my body with pain, I am able to use the time to think about my life, my direction, my plans, and my priorities. I end each run feeling good both physically and emotionally.
How do your priorities and projects fit together?