How do I break down and tackle huge projects?
September 2, 2014 2:59 PM Subscribe
How on earth do adults organize huge projects? And allot time to them? And then actually get them done?
posted by peachfuzz to Work & Money (11 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
I am completely serious about this. I've always been a horrible procrastinator who does literally anything and everything other than what I'm supposed to be working on for weeks and then goes on a 72-hour hyperfocus hell march to do in one fell swoop what I should have spread out over six months. This has worked okay(ish) up till now but the projects I'm taking on now are self-driven, much higher-stakes, and have a higher potential to go off the rails.
I have a vague idea of how people are supposed to do these things: 1) break project into phases; 2) create a timeline with intermediate deadlines and a budget if needed; 3) map phases into concrete steps with deliverables and dependencies. BUT. I get way too hung up on the planning and making the plan perfect. I am horrible at estimating how much time any given phase will REALLY take. I get distracted by internet cats and laundry and snacks. I blow by intermediate deadlines without a qualm. I edit constantly as I go and usually want to completely restart at least once.
Once I actually get into something it's not a problem to focus and do quality work. But once I'm in it, it's hard to get out of it and the rest of my life goes off the rails while I work feverishly.
Obviously this is not a good way to go about things. I'm better at this stuff in very structured environments and on teams with people relying on me, but I don't know how to do better more consistently when it's just me. I need project and time-management strategies, advice for work-life balance (even when the "work" is something personal), motivation, simple advice like "Don't work on your couch, sit at a desk", whatever you've got!
Other relevant data:
- I've recently started on ADHD meds, which are helping a lot with some of this but also highlighting my need for real systems rather than coping mechanisms.
- I am not overcommitted; I have plenty of time to take on a big project or two a year outside of my day job...if I don't just goof off with all the time I schedule for it.
- Example straightforward but still overwhelming project: Delivering a book manuscript due in six months.
- Example complex and overwhelming project: Planning and creating a content and ecom website for launch in early 2016, which will require consulting with and managing freelancers.
- I've tried Getting Things Done but got so wrapped up in perfecting the administration of the system that I rarely actually did the things. I've tried the Eisenhower Punnett square thing, but everything always seems to be both important and urgent. I tried Pomodoro but I just ignore when the break is up.
TL; DR: I'm the worst at project management and I want to not be the worst. Please help!