Ready for a Strong Take-Off? Here Are 5 Tips to Help Projects Soar

By Paula Eder

Large projects can be daunting. So what do you do when confronted with a great big task that you need to take the lead on?

It’s your responsibility, the clock is ticking, and you don’t know where to begin.

Well, here are 5 innovative tips for getting even a large project off to a successful and quick beginning. And as you explore these 5 ideas, I am guessing that you’ll start coming up with some creative ideas of your own, too.

Explore and use your power to think ahead. Your results will likely far surpass what a traditional approach will provide.

1. Open your mind to possibilities for structuring your project that are not typical.

If you rely on the usual methods, like outlining and using a Zero Draft, consider a fresh approach. Start by clearly defining your desired outcome, and then structure your project around it. Beginning with the results you’d like will stimulate your creativity more than automatically following a standard protocol.

2. Refine the definition of your results or desired outcome until it’s comprehensive and specific. Make it shine!

Don’t undermine your project by having your planned results remain non-specific. Traditional methods often undervalue the importance of creating a crystal clear image of your desired outcome before you begin. Vague descriptions may result in confusion for those who need to understand your project or whose help you may need in order to be successful. Clearly delineating your goal will also help you strategize more effectively when structuring your action steps.

3. Examine closely the scope and complexity of your desired outcome. If you have bitten off more than you can chew, streamline your project to make it manageable.

Planning your project realistically greatly reduces the chances of your having to revisit, and scale back, your original desired outcome. By staying laser focused and limiting the scope of your desired outcome, you sidestep a common pitfall: defining your anticipated results too broadly. Writing a doctoral dissertation or developing a strategic plan without a clear description of a feasible-to-achieve desired outcome can easily become a project that is impossible to manage. Learn to marshal your resources by simplifying.

4. Get everyone who’s important on board at the onset.

Once you define your specific, comprehensive goal and pare it down to a realistic size, present it to everyone directly involved in your project. For example, a thesis advisor may not start with a mental picture of the desired outcome that is the same as yours. Invest time and energy up front preparing an initial, strong presentation of your endpoint for all key participants. You will derive two important benefits from this:

  • First, you are far more likely to obtain their approval and commitment when they understand you.
  • Second, the more they comprehend your clearly articulated objectives, the more you’ll have valuable space to explore and experiment along the way.

5. Learn to work backwards.

Instead of beginning at the beginning, start from your desired outcome and work backwards to identify each necessary action step. This way, you are more likely to maintain a realistic pace and scale throughout the project. In contrast, beginning at the beginning can mire you in too much detail or overwhelm you with the enormity of your task.

It’s deeply rewarding to plan a project effectively when first starting out. You will proceed with more confidence and develop a stronger base of support.

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