Taking Measured Steps

How to make progress on multiple concurrent projects.

It may seem daunting to attempt multiple projects and/or ventures simultaneously. However, there are some simple things that you can do to make that a reality.

  • Set small actionable goals - Be realistic. When setting goals, make sure you've broken them down into things that can be accomplished in no more than 2 to 3 days. If you feel that is too long, break them down even further. The point is, by chunking larger tasks into manageable sizes you can set yourself to consistently achieve small goals. Each small goal reached with bolster your positive energy and outlook.

    If you miss accomplishing a goal, don't get down on yourself. Take time and see if you could have broken the goal into smaller tasks than you did. Learn from that by adjusting your future goals.
  • Work on a maximum of 2 major projects the same day - Attention spans may seem shorter, but really it can be an unwillingness to focus (perhaps you've reached a part of the project you aren't so amped up to complete). If you notice yourself getting distracted by another project or something that doesn't align to your larger goals, take a minute to step back.

    This may mean jotting down some notes (always capture the date with the note you are capturing) or doodling some ideas. Once the distractions are captured you can shift back toward your target goals. You won't have to continue focusing on those items once you've captured the distractions for a future review.

    Don't take my statement of 2 major projects literally. You may change your focus between several other projects once or more a week (you may well have 4 to 5 ongoing projects that need your attention). The goal is to make the day manageable by not splitting your attention across too much.

  • Take 1 night off per week just to relax - You may be scratching your head on this one. I agree that it is counterintuitive, but the fact remains it works. If you are always working on ideas and projects there is a chance you'll feel burnt out eventually. Your mind needs time to rest and process. If you feel a creative block starting to cloud you, a break may be your best bet. The mind is wonderful at working on problems in the background even after we've taken a break.

    You may be surprised by a novel solution that comes to you while watching television or reading a book. Pushing yourself is can be great, but keep in mind to carry your passion forward you need time to relax.

  • Be accountable to someone you trust to challenge you - Other than setting goals, goal accountability is paramount for success. I'm not speaking of something that has to be super formalized, but it should be used to motivate and realign you when you veer off track (which will happen even in small ways from time to time).

    First, you need to partner with someone you can trust to give you an honest answer and constructive feedback. Once you've found that person, keep them up to date on your goals. They can only keep you accountable if they know what you are trying to accomplish. Then work with them on how you will conduct checkpoints. You may not have time to always meet in person, but try to keep your checkpoints via email or video chat if possible.

    Be open with them when you've missed reaching a goal. Ask them for their feedback and adjust your process.

  • Learn at least 1 thing from each mistake - This can be a ride along to accountability but, it can also be a standalone point for self-reflection. If you can learn 1 thing from a misstep or a mistake, it hasn't really been a failure.

    A failure is choosing to refuse to learn from your mistakes. When you are constantly trying to learn, you'll come across more interesting ideas and perspectives and be open to applying them to your next effort.

  • And celebrate small successes - Celebration is key to continued motivation. If you wait to accomplish large milestones before celebrating you may feel burnt out or frustrated by a lack of what you perceive to be progress.

    Small wins are still progress. Each small win may not justify cake and ice cream or a wild happy hour, but they should still be recognized and celebrated.

Try applying these practices into your daily life. Track which ones are working and which ones still deserve a tweak. These aren't set and forget practices, but rather frequent reminders to keep front of mind. After all, you are trying to accomplish great things in your venture, so embrace adaptation.