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01 Feb

Cut down and finish up

Datum: 2012-02-01 11:00

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).

Do this

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.