How do I tackle long term projects?
October 11, 2011 11:56 AM Subscribe
How do you take a big, long term project and break it into reasonable chunks? What's your process?
posted by SNWidget to education (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Ok, I'm crappy at time management, and I'm dealing with a bunch of perfecitonism/ADD issues. I'm working on it with medication and therapy, but as of right now, I have a big project that needs to get done within the next 4 weeks or so.
I'm having trouble seeing the trees, when all I can see if the crazy, scary forest.
I'm a PhD student in the social sciences, and this specific project is a review of literature. I have some articles already. I have a spreadsheet. I feel like I've taken the right steps so far, but I just can't seem to find a path forward.
I realize that breaking things down is the way to go, but I can't seem to figure out how to make that work for me. It's like, if I can't finish the whole project in one sitting, it isn't worth it. I've tried to trick myself with individual tasks, but it always feels like part of that greater whole, and that's what fills me with dread/frustration.
I have problems with these amorphous, giant projects, and I never seem to be able to chunk them properly. I end up missing things, making the steps too ambiguous (find more sources!), or other things. I also don't know when I'm done with one section - am I finished writing this part, or is there more? Do I move on? I've tried to do this GTD style, but my "next actions" never seem to work. I put "Read through 5 articles in backlog" on my todo list, and it just sort of sits there, while more "pressing" things get done.
If you're good at this, how do you do it? What's your mental process when making these chunks? How do you deal with the fear that you might be missing something, or that the steps may not be as concrete as you'd hoped? How do I get a handle on big, long term projects?