In my previous blog, we broke down some ways to figure out if "that thing" on your to-do list is something you should actually... DO? If you decide that the "thing" that has been sitting there forever NEEDs to happen, I offer you the challenge to think outside the box.
The General Idea
2 Questions to ask yourself to save you time in the long run.
- What are 3 different ways you can approach this task?
- Who can you pay, trade, or ask for help?
- What different tools/ supplies you can use?
- How can you break it up into smaller pieces?
- Decide on a time frame. Is it realistic, should you double it?
- Break it down. What you can realistically commit to weekly?
To help get your creative juices flowing, I have 3 examples of people who were stuck on those “to-do” items for a long time.
The Tasks... Real Life Examples
1. Jeff and His Home Project: Jeff is building a deck in his backyard. His house is THE place for friends and family get together in the summer. So many people come for Saturday grill and games that his house just isn’t big enough anymore. He has wanted to build a deck for 2 years now and wants to stop talking about it and just get it done.
2. Website for Sam a Small Business Owner: Sam is a yoga instructor who specializes in home visits, and consults on nutrition as well. She has been needing to finish her website so people can find her information more easily. She has been trying to use a platform that confuses her.
3. Ari, who is Building a Corporate Team: Ari is a Special Projects Manager whose territory covers the East Coast. She is in charge of starting an experimental project that isn't priority, but needs to get done in the next year. She has been having trouble finding the right talent.
Solution Options: What are 3 different ways to approach this task?
Jeff and the Deck: He sat down and thought about ways that he can make the job easier for him.
- Pay someone to do it.
- Get friends to help.
- Find elements that are prebuilt or pre cut.
Sam and the Website: She was tasked with how she can clear her mind of the work she has been doing. Her job was to take a step back, look at what isn't working, revisit her goals, and go from there.
- Scratch the work she has already put in to the platform that is confusing to her, and try something new.
- Make the vision and concept of her website more simple and basic.
- Seek out a web designer who wants to take yoga classes and learn about nutrition, and trade services.
Ari and her Corporate Team: She not only needs to think about how else she can get the job done, but also how to take her vision and present it so that others can be on the same page.
- Re-conceptualize how different talents and backgrounds could work differently than she had originally planned.
- Rethink her original idea and push herself to put a different spin on the way the project could get done.
- Hire a recruiter (she can make a financial case to her. Her salary x Her time spent finding a team).
Once they decided on a solution, the next step was to break the work down into smaller pieces. Remember, these are things that have been on the back burner for a while. To make the project smaller and take longer wasn't a big deal, after all, the projects must not have been time sensitive if they were stuck on the to-do-list.
Breaking it Down: How can you break it up into smaller pieces?
Jeff originally wanted to accomplish this task in 2-3 months. After reviewing the work and thinking about the questions, "to actually get things done", he changed course and decided to take the next 10 months just come up with a plan for supplies, labor, and the process. Giving himself time to figure out all of the logistics felt so much less stressful. He gave himself 3 hours every month to figure out the next steps for each of the following: Materials list, how to transport, what things will cost, how many people he will need, who those people are etc. When spring of the next year came around, all he had to do was pull out his checklist and get to work.
Originally Sam's goal was to take a month, hunker down and get it all done at once. When she changed her plan, she ended up deciding to give up on the platform that was confusing to her, and go with a new platform. She also decided to just to work on one web page at a time and the first page for the next 6 months. She decided to commit 2 hours a week to because she knew she would get pretty far in 6 months, and still have time to keep up with her busy schedule. Month 1 she mapped out on a piece of paper what her priorities are, what the purpose is, and elements she wanted. Months 2 and 3 she worked out the copy. Month 4, she looked at other sites and picked out what she wanted. Month 5, she worked on the design. Month 6, she worked on the edits and hit publish! After that... Bonus... because of all the work she had done prepping and planning, her remaining 4 web pages were done within the very next month!
Originally Ari wanted to have her team hired and ready to go in 3 months. What she ended up doing is tossing the work she had done up to that point to build the team. She challenged herself to be creative, and gave herself a new deadline of 6 months to try a new approach. This was more time than she had originally given herself, but , well below her deadline, but well below her original deadline. Her first month she took time answer these questions: What are the basic needs of the program? How does she want to fill those needs? Her 2nd month she spent figuring out who she wanted on her team in a new way. Originally she concentrated on qualifications and job duties. This time she thought about the following: What are the personalities, qualities and skills she wanted to have on her team? Her 3rd month she thought about what resources she could use to find these people? Month 4, she used her resource list to reach out. Month 5 and 6 she used to interview and hire.
The idea here is that preparation is huge, it will prevent you from being stagnant. When Stuck, the best thing to think about instead of trying to plow forward is to stop, drop, evaluate before figuring out the next smallest step forward. Preparation gives you a map to follow when your unsure of what to do next.
When you take the time for evaluation, out of the box thinking, research, and planning, you can save yourself so much work in the long run. How did Abe Lincoln put it? "If you give me 6 hours to cut down an tree, I will spend the first 4 sharpening the axe."
What I want you to now is to pull out one item on your to do list that has been sitting there for a long time, follow the steps above, and let me know how you did. Where did you get stuck? What did you notice?