Each and every one of us has our own Big Project.
I’m talking of course of the companies we’d like to start. The software we’d like to develop. The art we’d like to create. Or, the book we’d like to write.
Our Big Projects are the things we doodle about in our notebooks, talk about with our friends and reflect upon as we lay awake in bed at night.
The challenge with Big Projects is, well… they’re big!
And, kinda scary.
And, cost money.
And… I think I’ll just watch another rerun of the Price is Right.
What’s worse, not working on our Big Projects can make us feel kinda stuck. Like the wheels are spinning at a thousand revolutions a second, yet you’re going nowhere.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone in your struggle. In this post, I’m going to share a few tips I’ve used successfully to launch my Big Project.
Make your Big Project a priority
Sounds simple, right? It’s not always that easy.
Whether you work as a freelancer or are gainfully employed, it can be difficult to find time to dedicate to a project. After all, dinner needs to be cooked, bills need to be paid, the garbage needs to be taken out… and if you have kids, wowza, you’ve really got your hands full.
But believe me, for your project to be successful you have to dedicate mental and physical time. That is to say, you need to clear mental space to think about the project, and physical time to actually get it done.
For me, my Big Project is the Freelance Business Guide. It is a passion project I’ve wanted to create for years and years – almost as long ago as I can remember.
But in my real job (the one that pays my bills and keeps me in decadent furs and scented oils) I manage a small team at my micro agency, Inbound Interactive. It’s a full-time job, leaving me with little time or brain space to think about my Big Project.
Yet here it is. You’re reading these words, which means I haven’t failed yet.
It also means that if I can do it, so can you.
Here are a few practical tips I’ve used to create time for working on my Big Project:
- Put it at the top of your priority list: It’s easy to bump things that are low priority further and further down the priory list. But, by making your Big Project your top priority, you will naturally reschedule your life around the project – not the other way around.
- Wake up earlier: I used to wake at 7:30 in the morning, I now wake at 6:30. I dedicate this time to brainstorming ideas for content I can share on my blog.
- Stop watching TV: Honestly, throw your TV out of the f-bombing window. It’s not helping you achieve your goals – it’s only draining your finite time.
- Use your lunch hour: I’m a smoothy guy, who spends very little time preparing meals. I use the 45+ minutes I save over my lunch hour to write, research and connect with people on Twitter and Facebook.
Start with a small project first
How do you eat an elephant?
Bite by bite.
Here’s the thing, much of the fear associated with Big Projects is caused by looking at the project as a whole (your ultimate goal) rather than as the sum of its parts (the steps to complete the goal).
By breaking Big Projects down into a series of little projects, it becomes less intimidating and more manageable. And, once it’s less intimidating, it’s easier to plan, budget and set timelines.
Here are a few ways to approach it:
- Develop a minimum viable product: It doesn’t need to have all the bells and whistles. Think of it as the Mona without the Lisa. It just needs to provide the minimum requirements for you to share it with the public. This could be one piece of a SaaS product’s functionality or a well-written blog article as opposed to an entire eBook. Find a stepping stone from which you can continue to progress your Big Project.
- Scope your project: Once you’ve identified your minimum viable product, work backward and scope out the project. Break the project down into easily digestible pieces and parts, categorize them, and create to-do lists.
- Delegate and attack: With your scope of work outlined, now turn your focus to getting things done. Look at what you can reasonably complete and how long it will take. If it’s outside of your project timeline, outsource or delegate the rest.
Partner with people who have complementary skills
I know personally, I’d rather own 25% of something, than 100% of nothing.
For some reason, people get weirded-out by partnerships. It’s as though the fact that they’re partnering with another person somehow diminishes their project’s virtue.
Obviously, that’s complete silliness.
Partnerships can be immensely beneficial, especially in the early stages of your Big Project’s development.
Here are a few benefits:
- You share the production burden: If you’ve delegated your tasks evenly, you and your partner(s) can more quickly complete your minimum viable product and test it with your audience.
- You share the financial burden: Most projects need startup capital. By partnering with other folks, you equally distribute the financial burden and risk.
- You motivate each other: Sometimes all you need is a good kick in the keister. Partnerships are great for that. Including another person in the project will keep you motivated, and force you to collectively set and complete project tasks.
A final thought
I didn’t intend to end this post on a philosophical note, but here it goes.
This isn’t your practice life.
We get one life, that’s it. There are no magic potions or inferius spells. If you have something you’re truly passionate about, just do it.
I often ask myself, if I were to die tomorrow would I be happy with the legacy I’d leave behind. In that moment, if my answer is no, I sit down at my desk, open my laptop, and write until my fingers hurt.