3 Ways to Make Progress on a Project That Has You Stuck
We've been juggling a lot of new projects around here. Some that you've seen (our magazine and bringing on a new strategist to name a few!) and some that we haven't spilled the beans on yet. In taking all of this on around the same time, I've learned a lot about prioritizing, delegating and simplifying. I've never been great, or even good at those things. I can't tell you how many projects I've started and left to be forgotten because something more urgent came up, and rather than figure out how to make both work, I left the other behind. But, once you have a team, and their jobs rely on you creating concepts that turn into business ideas... you don't really have that luxury any more.
There is one project we've been working on for months now. It's a big one that has a lot of logistics going on in addition to the creative. I was at a place where there was so much going on in my head, I couldn't even figure out where to start. I felt stuck. One day I was listening to a podcast and a lightbulb went on. I realized I was making things harder on myself instead of taking a look at the project, simplifying it and making it work for us right now. I was trying so hard to please too many people with this new idea, instead of creating something for a smaller audience that was more focused and higher quality. After I realized this, and what I had to do, I felt like a weight had been lifted and I was inspired to continue again. I had removed the "roadblocks" I had put up myself, and created a clear path to finally GET IT DONE. So, I wanted to share what I did to work through that feeling of being stuck.
No. 1 - Figure out what is holding you back
Start by thinking about all of the aspects of the project-what inspired you to start it? What work is involved? Where do you see it in the future? When you think about all of this, can you pinpoint where you are feeling resistance? Write it down. Next, figure out WHY you are feeling that way. Does your reason seem like it isn't fitting with the rest of the project? Is the work it will take vs. the benefit to the project out of balance? Is it just something you really don't want to do yourself?
Now ask yourself, can you remove that element from the project? Change it? Assign it to someone else? Develop it into something a little different that flows better?
Come up with several solutions. You don't have to pick one right away, just put them out there. Do any of them feel good? Like solutions that you would be happy with in the long run?
Keep thinking about how these solutions affect the big picture, what is best for the project, and you. See how working them through steps two and three below makes them look. Usually one will jump out at you. Trust your gut and go with the one that feels right for everyone involved.
No. 2 - Write it out
Make a list of what needs to be done. We use Asana to create timelines and delegate tasks to each team member. This has been life changing actually (or business changing I guess). We can write out all of the things that have to be done to get to the finish line. It's nice to see how everyone is progressing, and be able to assign tasks to the person who might be better suited to accomplish it. It puts it out in the world, and in writing, instead of staying inside of your head. This way, you aren't forgetting to delegate, and you don't have to be the owner of the tasks. Sometimes this is the only thing that is holding you back, and being able to see an outline of your project with dates can get you organized and moving again.
No 3. - Talk about it
Whether it’s with your team, your partner, or a supportive friend, it’s always helpful to get your thoughts and ideas out of your head. You might completely be missing the solution to a problem and someone who isn’t as invested can provide suggestions. This is a great thing to do after you have also taken action in steps one and two above. You can receive feedback regarding your solutions and/or your project outline. I ALWAYS talk to someone about changes or decisions I want to make. Whether or not I take their advice, that depends on the situation. But I like to hear an outsiders thoughts. It can even help you come to new realizations that you hadn't considered before.
For the problem I was addressing, I used all three of the methods above and ended up scraping the part of the project that was holding me back. I did this because I realized that the product was still amazing without it, plus it gave me the space to focus on another aspect that would help people (our customers) even more. So instead of thinking what I wanted, I thought about what our customers needed... which is the point of creating a product anyway right?
I hope this helps you guys work through something that's holding you back!