Do you ever feel overwhelmed by a big, long-term task? I know I do! It can be hard to tackle a big project because you just don’t know where to start. And if you’re anything like me, you might also hate not being able to finish something in one day.
Big projects can seem stressful for a couple of reasons. First of all, the deadline is usually far away, which means that we tend to procrastinate. Or we might feel overwhelmed by the prospect of spending the next month and a half working on the same thing. And most of all, we just don’t know which piece of the big task to pick up first.
Over the past years, I have discovered a few ways that help me tackle big projects in a stress-free way. So if you’re interested to know what they are, just keep on reading!
Divide your big project into little parts
Whenever you’re starting a new, big project, the important thing is to complete it one step at a time. This way, your big project will seem less daunting and you won’t feel as stressed or overwhelmed.
Your first task to tackle any large project is to break it down into manageable pieces. No matter the project, it always consists of different parts!
If, for example, you’re creating a website, some of your milestones might be: doing research, setting up a hosting account, choosing a template, writing an ‘about’ page, and so on.
For big translation projects, I usually just divide my text into little parts. And the same works for writing projects: just see the introduction, conclusion and different chapters in between as separate parts of your project.
When you divide your work project into milestones, make sure that each milestone can be accomplished in one day. Having a task done by the end of the day will give you a feeling of accomplishment that will keep you motivated throughout the project. And it will make sure that you don’t work crazy hours, either!
And finally, be sure to plan all of your milestones in advance, not just the first steps. Yes, they might change a bit as you go along. But how are you supposed to manage your time if you don’t exactly know what needs to be done?
Start your big project right away
You should never delay a big project just because the deadline is far away, or because you don’t know how to approach it. Procrastination will not help, and it will only make you feel more stressed as you go!
Before you tackle a complicated project, you first need to estimate the time you’ll need to complete each milestone. If possible, each milestone should take one day, so the number of milestones equals the number of days you’ll need to complete the entire project. There you go, time management can be as easy as that!
However, it’s always a good idea to plan some extra time because unforeseen things do happen. If you aim to complete the project in advance, you’ll be able to accommodate these things if need be. In turn, you won’t feel as stressed if not everything goes according to plan.
Finally, create a list of all your milestones to make sure that you don’t forget anything, and include them in your daily to-do lists as you go!
Reward yourself after every accomplished milestone
To successfully tackle a big project, you need to find a way to incorporate it into your daily work routine.
Procrastinating for a month and then pulling all-nighters for two weeks is not a sustainable solution. But neither is trying to finish 50 milestones in one day! (I’m so guilty of the latter…)
Instead, take some time each day to complete one milestone. I like to do that at the beginning of the day before I start my other tasks. This way, I make sure that I’m making progress on my big work project – and I prefer not to have it hanging over my head all day.
After you’ve completed a piece of your project, you should reward yourself. Take a break, go out with friends, make yourself some food… Rewarding yourself after every milestone will reduce stress, provide a feeling of accomplishment, and keep you going.
Don’t try to finish multiple milestones in one day, especially if you have plenty of time. It’s not a race! Working too much will just increase your stress levels, make you unmotivated and less productive.
Don’t prioritise smaller tasks
It can be tempting to prioritise smaller tasks before you tackle a big project. They’re quicker to do, and you might think that you’ll just start the big project when everything else is done.
Well, don’t do that. You should never prioritise smaller tasks unless they really are more urgent. ‘Everything else’ will never be done and there will always be something that you can do before starting your long-term project.
The only way to get a large work project done easily is to make it a priority, even if the deadline is far away. But do plan enough time to finish all your other work as well!
Save your project somewhere safe
I know, I know, this sounds like a no-brainer. But I’ve seen so many people lose projects because their computer broke down!
I may be paranoid about this, but I always send my projects to my own email address so I know that no matter what happens to my computer, I’ll still have everything in my inbox.
Saving your project somewhere safe just makes sure that you’ll never have to start over. And that’s a good thing, right?
Prioritise ‘done’ over ‘perfect’
Don’t aim for perfect results when you tackle a big project! Of course we all want to produce the best possible work. Yet in this case, perfect really is the enemy of good.
Striving for perfection can make you feel overwhelmed and not ready to get started. In turn, you’ll be more likely to procrastinate and stress out about your long-term project.
In any case and for any project, aim to get it done before you spend any time perfecting it. First of all, you can work with imperfect results, but you can’t work with something that’s unfinished. And second, it’s so much easier to improve a completed project than to create something perfect from scratch!
And don’t worry: if you follow all these steps, you should have plenty of time left before the deadline to make your project as perfect as you like!
So here you go, these are the most effective ways I’ve found to tackle a big project! What do you think? Tell me your thoughts or other tips in the comments below!