Your supervisor dumped a big, hairy project in your lap. It has a lot of moving parts. Looking at it, and going over it in your mind, you are feeling just a wee bit overwhelmed. There is so much to do, you just don’t know where to start. Here are a few tips to help.
1. Break it down
Looking at it all at once, your project may seem like this huge, unapproachable monolith. The secret is to break it into smaller parts and then work on each of those parts. This will make it easier to handle, and you won’t feel like you are going down for the third time.
Doing this also helps you to establish a plan of attack. If you break it down into smaller steps, you have to analyze what needs to be done and in what order. You develop some structure and method in how you are going to approach the work.
2. One thing at a time.
Then work on just one thing at a time, and focus on just that one thing. Yes, there may be many steps to follow, but each in its own time. It may be hard to do at first, but you need to make that one thing your priority.
And you will actually be more productive if you focus your mind completely on the thing you have to do, if you give it 100 percent of your attention and effort. What really hinders productivity is that too often people are not fully in the present. Half the time they are thinking about the past or the future, not the here and now.
3. Get psyched.
This may sound a little juvenile, but it works. Think about how football teams get themselves psyched for a game. Put on some cheerful music that you like. Get out of your chair and walk around a little. Talk to yourself a little – that’s right, it really helps. Do some deep breathing. Whatever will improve your mood and get you energized to get started. Remember the saying, “Well begun is half done.”
4. Use the timebox
This is how it works. Decide on the amount of time you are going to spend on a single task. Set your alarm for that amount of time. Then work on the task until the alarm sounds. Then you are finished. You can either take a break or do something else.
Setting a deadline like this really focuses your mind and effort, and you actually get more done than if you had no deadline.