Our reasons for always having so much to do may vary, but the result is the same: we end up trying to accomplish multiple things at once, and ultimately take much longer to get everything done.
But this problem isn't to be confused with Time Management, like I discussed in our last blog (though that is a contributing factor). This is another issue altogether: Project Management.
You see, as Expertpreneurs™, we tend to have a lot of ideas. And that is
wonderful. But you need to be able to properly manage those ideas to implement them.
Think about this for a second: If you have three projects that you are working on that could potentially bring in money, would it be better if you finished all of them in nine months? Or one every three months?
I realize that is ultimately the same amount of time, but the difference is that
once you finish a project, you can start earning income from that project while working on the others. So you're effectively tripling your income potential by focusing on one project at a time.
Doesn't that sound a lot better?
Trying to Manage Everything
Expertpreneurs™ have a bad habit of trying to do it all.
This is nothing new. However, as I have discussed before, trying to do everything yourself is like shooting yourself in the foot. Do what you do best and leave the rest to others.
But this requires you to manage yourself and others, even if they aren't
employees. So it's important for you to have a system in place that is efficient, to avoid scrambling to get things done.
You see, more often than not, Expertpreneurs™ do not know how to handle “what to do” when it comes to projects. If they're doing it themselves, they get distracted easily. If they're working with others, they micromanage too much.
Yet what you do with your time, and how you work on projects, is crucial to how successful you will be. You do not want to waste your time and energy on tasks that don't matter. And you certainly don't want to waste time on daydreaming about other possible ideas.
So what can you do?
The What, Where, and When
In last week's time management blog, we talked about lists and making tasks. But how do you know what to put down?
This can range from something as simple as “write chapter of ebook” to the more complex task of “create timeline for project.” Both are technically a single task, but require different levels of planning on your end.
So, to start out, you need a concrete idea of what your goals are with each project. I'm going to use an online course as an example to illustrate my points today.
What are you hoping to accomplish with your course?
Let's say you want to create five modules, with the greater goal of teaching
someone how to use the law of attraction to get what they want out of life. Each module will focus on a different element, with examples, worksheets, videos, interviews, etc… And it is to be finished by April of next year.
That is a lot of material to create by then! However, when you lay it all out, and organize it in a way that flows logically, you'll find that it becomes much more simple than you think.
Managing Your Tasks
And to measure that, we use the Product Management Triangle – Cost, Scope, and Schedule.
Basically, these three elements are constraints to finishing a project. Whenever one gets skewed in any way, it affects the others. Cost is your budgeted amount for the project. Scope refers to what must be done to produce the end result. And Schedule means your time constraints.
So, in our example, you have a scheduling constraint of finishing by April. This means you may have increased costs and a reduced scope. So, perhaps that additional podcast series won't be finished by then, but you could always tack it on later.
The point is, you need to carefully weigh what is most important to you when working on a project, and plan accordingly.
Then you need to write it all down and commit to it.
What tends to happen often with projects, is once they get started, you get an idea to add onto it. And suddenly the project becomes much larger in scope. That is not a good thing.
While I am an advocate for creativity, it is important that you finish what you start before you change it. That way it won't get so large that it overwhelms you.
It's always likely that road-blocks will pop up to get in the way of your project.
The best measure against this is to clearly define your sequence of activities, estimate the time required for each, and build in some wiggle room in case something goes awry. You never know what might happen.
Also, I highly recommend thinking through what tasks can be done together to maximize efficiency. For example, if you are collaborating with other law of attraction experts for audio clips, then perhaps you can do all of those at once, even if they are on different topics.
Combining similar tasks can make scheduling simpler.
So, in this example, you would generally work on one module before moving onto the next, to focus on one subject at a time. However, when dealing with technical things such as audio, video, podcasts, etc… it might be easier to do them in groups.
Really consider what works best for your needs, and start thinking about all
possible scenarios when planning out projects.
Utilizing the Help of Others
You most likely are going to have to outsource some of your tasks. Whether
something small like designing a cover for your ebook, or large like writing the code to make your course digitally available, you have to account for others' services.
And this can be the hardest aspect of project management.
When you are putting together your schedule, start thinking about order of
operations for maximum efficiency. For example, if you are using graphics to illustrate a point, you would have to compile all of that necessary information together before the graphic designer can start working.
Then, if you know that the graphic designer needs a week to accomplish that, and you need those illustrations to put an entire module together, make sure that is reflected in your timeline.
And be clear about everything with the people you hire. Set deadlines with the people you outsource to, and help them understand how it fits into your greater plan. Basically, communicate well.
This all may seem rudimentary, but it is very easy for projects to fall apart,
because of small frustrations based on lack of planning and communication.
Be A Project Managing Machine (Or Hire One)
Although doing all of this might seem complicated, the reality is that by carefully organizing your projects, and knowing exactly what to do and when, you make everything infinitely simpler for yourself.
You will get more done, and be far less stressed with the process.
However, if in the end you really don't want to deal with all of this management and planning, then hire someone to do it for you.
A project manager is incredibly valuable, and a good one can help boost your productivity quite a bit. Seriously consider this option if managing things is not a good fit for you.
That is it for now on project management, but in my next blog post, I'm going to talk about something we touched on a bit here. It's not only one of the best ways to maximize your productivity, but allows you to really become a business owner, instead of being owned by your business.
To your success!