In January 2015, I faced a big challenge.
The challenge was to complete a big project on an unbelievable timeline.
A big corporate buyer known to place orders for lakhs of books every year had told me that they will buy a large quantity of my book on digital marketing if I could get it to their warehouse by end of April.
The problem was that I hadn’t written it yet.
They asked me for a price during our discussion and sent me a purchase order. This meant that I had a confirmed order and commitment to paying if the book was ready in time.
Thought the challenge was huge, but the book was something I wanted to work on so I found a way to make it work. I wrote briefly earlier about how I did it you can check it out there.
We all have big tasks that we want to take up.
Books that we want to write. Hobbies that we want to turn into a new profession. Something we need to do for the family which we have been postponing for long or a wish to do a big fitness reboot.
Despite the wish, many of these do not happen mostly because we keep on thinking that we’ll do it tomorrow, next week or next month.
Here is what I have learned the hard way. There is never a perfect time to work on and finish a big project. I learned it by working on several big projects over the past decade.
You can create a schedule but there will be times when you’ll have to work around the schedule. Your estimates of how much time a project can take, will not be 100% correct because something unforeseen will come up.
That said there can be a method to the madness.
To start and finish a big project, you need to work around the mighty four – mindset, momentum, time and place. To be more efficient you can also use certain tools.
Let dig deep into each of these.
Big battles are won in the mind first. Tackling a big project is no different. Whenever you think of attempting a big project, first acknowledge that it is important for you. Don’t just stop at acknowledging the importance, say why a particular project is important to you. Because for really important things in life, we do whatever to make them happen.
Unless we invest time to do anything we can’t complete it. And, that’s one big reason we don’t even start on what we want despite saying that it is important. So schedule a time to work on your big project. Better choose a time when you have a fresh brain, calm energy, and low or no distraction – like the time before breakfast.
Most people who are smart, stop at scheduling time to do something. They’ll say next Friday I’ll invest two hours on my pet project. Even then they may not take action because they are missing a crucial part of the puzzle. Choosing an environment that is conducive to taking action.
Unless you have the right environment you won’t be able to move forward with your project. Because even if you said you’ll work from 11 am to 3 pm on your pet project but you are found in bed at that time, you may not take action. Because the bed is the best place for most of us to work on a pet project unless you are Winston Churchill who worked in bed till afternoon every day.
So to make progress on your big project schedule time and pick a place, a place that gets you in the right state to work. It can be your desk at work or in your home office, or your favorite cafe.
You may do all this and still not finish your big project. This may be due to lack of momentum which is one of the key things you need to finish a big project. For my first book, though it took more than a year to finish writing, there was a period of one month when I wrote almost non-stop, morning till midnight every single day. That made sure that I finished what I had set out to. Looking back I could have been kinder to myself, by doing this gave me momentum to finish it.
Similarly, for my second book – the one I discussed above, which came out on a much tighter schedule, we (my team and I) pulled several all-nighters and worked intensely during a period of 45 days.
You don’t need to pull all-nighters or work non-stop but make sure that you commit to doing a little bit every day. And then schedule marathon sessions once or twice a week for big wins and seeing week on week progress.
Of course, you can use tools to track your progress and keep up the momentum like when you are working on a big writing project you can use voice memo or voice typing in Google Docs.
But the golden four – mindset, time, place, and momentum are the most important. If you take care of these four you should have no problem in completing your big project.