My father in law is a horticulturist, which means he is an expert on gardening.
Soon he will begin to go from one garden to the next to prune trees and shrubs. He will crop and cut branches at incredible speed and to the untrained eye, it might appear as if he is being a little too harsh on the poor trees.
But, they will soon recover.
Fact is that the cropping is absolutely necessary for the trees to shape the way the owner wants them too and for them to carry plenty of fruit.
Cropping rejuvenates the plant. It is also a way of helping the tree take a desired shape and remove any branches which grow in an unfavorable direction. If this is not done, the amount of branches increase and when it becomes too crowded, the branches can no longer grow.
And branches of a tree are like the projects in our everyday lives.
Is the project-flora overgrown?
How is your fauna of projects; ideas you are developing, the larger recurring engagements you have, areas of responsibility, initiatives of change and new businesses, doing? Is it overgrown? Is it more like a tangled thicket than a majestic, sturdy tree?
If you are in charge of more projects than you can actually cope with, you will not be able to complete them all as well as you would like to.
So if you are feeling overwhelmed at the moment and unable to focus, cut back on your engagements and focus more on fewer projects.
If the eliminated projects are things you would still like to do at a later date, you can start them up again once you have more time and space (and yes, I realize that the gardening-metaphor just failed to apply further, but oh well).
- Get your project-overview out, that is, you list, map or inventory of the larger engagements you are involved in at the moment, regardless if they are development-projects, initiatives for change, improvements, new businesses or something else.
- Highlight those which are directly connected to where you wish to be heading in the long-run, to your vision (be it your own or your company’s). These are the projects which have the highest priority.
- For each project you did not just highlight, consider what the ramifications would be to eliminating it completely. Try to think of as many positive and as many negative consequences as you possibly can.
- Once you know what the possible consequences of not doing something are, choose another handful of the so far non-prioritized projects and add them to the list of those which are (but only if you have time and energy to devote to these as well).
- For each of the projects who did not make the prioritized-list, define a to-do-task which signifies the first step to putting the projects on hold. It might for instance be making a phone-call to the other involved parties in the project.
- Now put the un-prioritized projects back on the project-overview, but separate from the prioritized. If it is possible, hide them so that you do not get stressed by seeing them when you do not have time to work on them anyway.
- Now it’s done. Now you have cropped the projects which are not essential to achieving the future you wish for your business, even if only in the short-run. The more critical projects will get more of your attention and will probably be better off for it.
More focus gives more closure
Magnus, the chief physician who gave me the idea for this Done!, said:
“If I am not involved in too many projects simultaneously, I complete more since I can focus more on those I choose to prioritize. My attention is not diverted and my focus remains intact, and it doesn’t take as much time to change from one project to the next.”
Perhaps you can attain the same effect by sorting amongst your projects.
What is your way?
What is your best method to finishing the projects your initiate? Write a comment to let others know.