How to Plan a Really Big Project Without Feeling Overwhelmed
Today I’m sharing with you about how to plan a project without feeling overwhelmed. Specifically how to plan a really big project! Have you ever started a project and then not finished because you realized it was so complicated? Or have you ever had truoble even knowing where to start? Well today we will cover both and more! So keep reading to learn how to plan a really big project!
Common Mistakes in Project Planning
A common mistake I see in planning is under planning. Like Ben Franklin said, “a failure to plan is a plan to fail.” It’s so true. Maybe jump into projects because of sheer excitement and just eagerness to get started. That is great! But without a plan and without fleshing out the details you may realize the project was different than you thought. Or you may realize that it’s bigger than you thought! This can lead to overwhelm and never finishing the project or getting discouraged. You might also be afraid that if you plan too much you will fail.
On the other hand, overplanning can be a problem too. It is really easy to get overwhelmed and feel like the project is too much when you over plan. Also, you may get into the project and realize some things have changed. Your dates might shift around or you might learn new information that changes the scope of the project. Then because you’d already planned everything you have to waste time re-planning. Neither of these are helpful ways of planning in the long run.
How to Plan a Big Project
The best way to plan a really big project is to break it down into phases. There’s the brainstorming phase, the research phase, the planning phase, and the getting stuff done phase. Let’s talk about each one!
The Brainstorming Phase
The first thing you want to do is brainstorm everything. Write everything down while your creative juices are flowing. Or do it to help you get the creative juices flowing if you don’t have anything to go off of or any ideas. You also want to be sure to set a purpose for a project. Really define why you are doing the project and how it will help get you where you want to be. And write it down! It’s also a good idea to write some principals that will guide you during the process.
The Research Phase
This is a phase that a lot of people skip because they don’t know how to do it or it sounds boring or overwhelming. But the research phase is actually the most important part of any project! The first place to start is to ask a trusted colleage for ideas. They might be able to help you get on the right path. next, one of the best things to do is get on the phone with as many people as possible that are in your target audience and get their feedback. Ask them specific questions related to the area of whatever project you are working on. You can also do broader polls and things on your social media profiles or your website.
Another great place to research is in Facebook groups. You can ask your potential clients about what they would like to see from your product or you can ask people for help in researching your topic. Usually these types of research can help point you to books, podcasts, or courses on your topic too. The benefit of asking in Facebook groups is you can get a lot of peoples opinions and hear stories about what worked for them and what didn’t.
The planning phase is my favorite part! Since it’s such a big part I am going to break it down step by step even further.
Break the Project into Milestones
First, you want to break any big project into really big milestones. I like to plan these milestones for the quarter. I take the big puzzle pieces and set due dates on them so I know roughly when I would like to complete each milestone.
Take One Milestone At a Time
The best way to prevent over planning is to just focus on one milestone at a time before you move on to the next one. This can help you flesh out the ideas in a lot of detail but it will also prevent you from being overwhelmed because you are only doing a deep dive on one part of the project. You can take the first milestone of a project and then put the rest of the milestones on a backburner list to get to later and flesh out after you’ve completed the first milestone.
Break each milestone into action steps
The best way to prevent overwhelm, fear of failure, and more of the things that we talked about in the episode on Procrastination is to set specific steps. It should be specific enough that when you open your computer to work you know exactly what it is that you need to do. So instead of “research courses” you would say something like “write a post requesting help from other creatives on how to build a course” and then “post it in 5 groups.” These are specific so it takes out the guesswork and the temptation to procrastinate and overwhelm.
If you don’t know exactly what to do or you just don’t have enough informatino to make a specific action step, then it’s a sign that you need to do more research. In that case, you can make an action step of “Read 2 chapters in Donald Miller’s book” or something like that. This way it’s specific enough to get started but then as you do the work it will reveal the next steps to you. This will eliminate the “I don’t know what to do next!” feeling.
Don’t Forget Community!
Finally, I think the absolute most important component of any big project is community! We work better in community. If you have a good community behind you when you pan a project you have people to go to when you feel discrouaged, when you just need accountability to keep working, and when you want to get inspired or get ideas. You can get invovled in free communities like The Rising Tide Society or invest in something a little bit more intensive like Mastermind Sessions, Group Coaching, or One-on-One Coaching. (which, by the way, I offer all of these! Check out my resources page for Creatives!)
That’s it! If you need further help, be sure to join my FREE Facebook Group to ask questions.
Or, check out my Goal Setting & Productivity Course! I go in depth on project planning and you can get specific help on how to implement it in your business.
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