Two weeks ago you joined me in this journey because something needs to be different in your life.
My guess it you’ve struggled with this issue for a long time. You’ve tried a variety of ways to make this change. But for some of you, the idea of tackling this is just too overwhelming. You just don’t know where to start.
That’s how I’ve felt many times before. And actually, I think that’s a very good place to be.
If we only try to make changes that are easy, that’s not much of a challenge. I have a notebook on my desk that says, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”
The problem is, even knowing we serve a big God, fear can freeze us when the challenge in front of us seems huge.
I hope by now in this series, you know that the first place I want to go when faced with a challenge is to the source of all power and wisdom: My Heavenly Father. There are things that God will only make happen when we pray. So we must start there.
But then there is our part. And yesterday I shared one way I manage my responsibilities. It’s how I’ve accomplished some big goals in my life, and it starts very simply with a list of tasks and projects.
However, I do know that for some people, It’s hard to break down a project into manageable steps. So today I want to share some tips on doing just that.
Let’s look at a hypothetical situation. Let’s say you can’t find your living room because it is cluttered with stacks of newspapers, magazines, DVDs, kids’ toys, clothes and so on. If I told you in the midst of your chaos, “Go organize your living room!” you would laugh. Because we both know you would have done it if you could.
But what if I suggested you gather all the old newspapers and put them in a cardboard box? You could manage that. Then if I said go gather up all the DVDs and put them in a wicker basket, you could do that.
Tackling a big project takes the same approach. Breaking down a big task into little tasks that are logical to you. We do this type of strategizing in real life all the time. If you want to go to the movies with friends you have to call them, check the movie schedule, arrange a meeting time, and so on.
Big projects are no different, there are just more steps. And no one can get big projects done without some kind of plan. What that plan looks like is completely up to you.
When you’re facing a big project that feels overwhelming, it helps to identify little tasks that will move the project towards completion. The very act of listing the steps is motivating.
For example, I took my mother on a special vacation, just the two of us, and it felt overwhelming. My husband normally does the vacation planning, so it’s out of my comfort zone to handle all the details. I wasn’t sure what to do first. Did I reserve the plane tickets or the hotels?
Maybe that sounds silly to you vacation planners, but it overwhelmed me. This trip sat on my project list for months until I finally broke it down into steps. Here’s what it looked like.
• Set dates for trip.
• Make airline reservations.
• Reserve car.
• Identify city and state stops for each day. (We traveled from Charleston, SC to New Orleans)
• Research & reserve hotels in each city.
• Research & list tourist options in each city.
• List restaurant options in each city.
But even those steps weren’t specific enough. I had to break it down even more. I couldn’t set the dates for our trip without checking a few things:
• My mom’s schedule
• My kid’s school schedule
• My husband’s work schedule
• My work schedule
The more I broke down the project, the easier it was to get it done. Once I had identified specific one-action tasks, I could add them to my to-do list. And my mother and I had a great trip to the South.
If breaking down a project feels impossible, try brainstorming. Don’t worry about the order these tasks need to be accomplished, just start writing thoughts down as they come to you.
For those who are linear thinker, you need the freedom to create a list that’s not in perfect order. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what gets done first.
What projects are you struggling to start? Take some time and write out some of the steps needed. If you are a perfectionist, and the thought of making a mistake on your list worries you, try these approaches:
* Write all the steps on sticky notes and put them on a wall.
* Write the steps on a whiteboard, so you can easily erase.
* Draw a circle with your project name in the middle and spokes radiating from the circle with different tasks listed.
This process can be done with every project you have—whether it takes two steps or 200. Once you’ve identified the assortment of tasks needed, you can pick one to put on your very manageable to-do list. And when you’ve gotten that done, you can pick another.
And very soon you’ll find yourself accomplishing big projects that you never thought you would.
I’ve love to hear from those of you who feel overwhelmed by a big project. Please let a comment on my blog and share your project. And if you can identify a few tasks, list those too. I’d love to read them.
Thanks for joining me today. And please check back tomorrow when we wrap up this series.
In His love,