It’s staring you in the face. That one project.
And frankly, it’s been staring at you for awhile.
And maybe you’ve had so many one projects that it’s beginning to look more like a pile.
You feel as if you need to get it done. Yeah, you should totally get it done.
But you can’t find the oomph to get it finished—or maybe even started—in the first place.
As the year comes to a close, it’s a smart time to take inventory of your lingering projects—you know, the ones begging to be done, but you just can’t find the whatever to file them away on the done list.
Odds are, something has you stuck. It’s about time you figured out what it is.
Those Lingering Things
If your list of things that haven’t been done were people, they’d be hanging out on dark corners in shady parts of town, just like they are in your head right now.
The things that linger on our lists do so for three simple reasons:
- They scare you.
- You can’t find the motivation to start (or finish).
- You can’t figure out why they’re on your list to begin with.
There are zero other reasons why things remain on your list. And if you think not having enough money to get them done is a valid reason, you’re making up more excuses. The truth is that we find a way to get done what’s important to us and our businesses.
Your first step is to create an inventory of everything you’ve been wanting to get done for your business. Maybe it’s that website redesign. Or hiring an assistant. Or getting a new CPA or bookkeeper. Or looking into trading in that less-than-optimal POS system for something from the 21st century.
Whatever it is—whatever you’ve been putting off—write it down. You’re going to be using this list. It’s time to get those nefarious ideas off those dark street corners and put them to work (or move them out so there’s room for ideas that are ready to get to work).
Why You’re Putting Them Off
Now that you know what you’re putting off—what’s stuck mid-project, lost momentum or can’t get off the ground to begin with—it’s time to figure out why.
Just like there are three (and only three) reasons you can’t get something done, there are only three reasons to do anything for your brand:
- Financial benefit: Increase in revenue; offering a product your customers have been asking for; streamlining product offerings; raising prices; consolidating positions; saving payroll
- Emotional benefit: A more powerful visual brand; a more intuitive website and better online client/customer experience; revamp of messaging and web copy to better reflect your audience’s needs and wants
- Organizational/Operational benefit: Outsourcing payroll; updating/upgrading your POS; creating an employee handbook; having your business contracts created or reviewed; exploring online proposal software; hiring a manager or CFO
That’s it. Three reasons and examples of tasks that could be attached to each type of benefit. Now, go back to the inventory of Stuck Projects and ask yourself one question about each:
What kind of benefit does this task bring my business?
Here’s the awesome part: This is the best question ever and possibly the most important question you’ll ever ask about anything you want to do for your business.
Next to each task, write out the financial, emotional and organizational/operational benefits that completing each task will bestow upon your business empire. For example:
Task: Website Redesign
- Moves website to a platform we can manage ourselves (WordPress) will save time and costs by having to rely on a developer less for updates. (Emotional, organizational and financial)
- Creates a better brand experience for our customers who said they were having problems finding similar items. (Organizational, emotional, and possibly financial)
- Offers a better shopping cart for customers. (Financial and emotional)
After doing this exercise you might find that you either can’t find benefits for some tasks or the benefits are no longer important to where your business is at today. That’s awesome, because now you can cross those items off the to-do list and make room for the tasks that excite you and offer clear value.
When I do this exact exercise for my business, I find that I get amped up and re-excited about getting these tasks completed. And then I find it’s time to address the resources I need to get these shiny, renewed tasks completed.
You’re the king or queen of your empire, but that doesn’t mean you need to (or can do) everything alone. Every task that now remains on your list needs a helping hand. You’ve done the hard work—triaging your list and figuring out what’s worthy of staying a priority. You can see the clear benefits attached to each task that remains as well.
Next up is enlisting the right kind of help. Beside each task that remains, brainstorm the kind of help you’re going to need in order to get each task accomplished. But before you begin, realize that none of this has anything to do with money.
If a website redesign is imperative, you’ll find a way.
If hiring an assistant is imperative, you’ll find a way.
We use money as an excuse to keep us from doing the brave thing. It’s much easier to tackle a daunting task when you know:
A. What you’re going to get out of doing it, and
B. What you need in order to get it done.
The final step? Asking for help. While traveling on five planes in four days last week, I did exactly this exercise for my business. At the end of the task, I reached out to three of my most trusted mentors and colleagues, asking, “Can you recommend anyone who…?”
It was uncanny. Within an hour or two, I had responses back from all three with multiple recommended resources for each.
Some of the recommendations didn’t include having to hire or pay anyone at all—they were based on my colleague’s experiences and were referrals to online services that did exactly what I needed done.
And the people I would interview? I already knew they came highly recommended. I also knew that I had a much higher chance of being happy with the work because I’d done the hard work: Asking HOW my company would benefit from each and understanding WHY these tasks were important.
So there it is. You just slayed your to-do list. And it only took five minutes to read this post and ask some simple but important questions.
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Photo: Getty Images