Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
It’s November. And while I love my birth month with its cooler temperatures and gorgeous leaves, it is also National Novel Writing Month. For the entire month, my goal is to get a 50,000 word rough draft of a novel written.
Yes, 50,000 words.
This is my fourth year doing this
insane wonderful challenge, and it is probably the only way I will ever get a book written for publication. (I am very deadline driven). I know what it takes. And I know that because now a large chunk of time is going to be used writing, other things have to give.
So how do you know what to let go of, even temporarily?
Letting Projects Go Dormant
I believe that this needs to be done by everyone from time to time. Life changes, and our goals, both long and short term, have to adjust. That means our lists of projects must be culled in order to make room for changes.
One important thing to realize is that letting projects go dormant doesn’t mean you’re saying no forever. It just means you’re saying no for now.
If you maintain a Someday/Maybe list as David Allen in Getting Things Done suggests, then it just becomes a matter of moving the project. Otherwise, you will have to find some way to keep the project off the radar without completely discarding it.
5 Ways To Choose Dormant Projects
Some projects are better off in other people’s hands. In my home, my husband handles machinery — furnaces, appliances, etc. So when the furnace started making a weird noise, I asked him to deal with it. Once it is delegated, I cannot dictate how it is done, but only request that it be done.
Some items on my list had branched in a way that I hadn’t foreseen and there was nothing else to do on them; however, I hadn’t marked them done because it didn’t meet the criteria I had set forth for “done”. (This is one reason I don’t list out outcomes anymore, ala GTD. Too often events carried me in a way I hadn’t foreseen).
This summer, one of my projects was to try out a bunch of pizza dough recipes. The second one was a big hit, and everyone loved it. So why force myself to try the three other recipes I had listed? I marked the project as done, even though I hadn’t done everything I initially thought.
Sometimes projects remain on my list out of habit. A craft I have been meaning to have framed was on the list for months, and I realized that while I would still do it, I wasn’t going to do it now. It was no longer as important given the load of the month.
No Longer Relevant
Relevancy can wreak havoc with a project list. I have to think about each project and decide if it is still relevant for what I am trying to accomplish.
An example of this was a book on a programming environment that had been on my list for months. It was a technical book, and the book itself is large and difficult to transport. I rarely brought it home from work, and I had little time at work to read it. Our team shifted into another direction, though, and this book was no longer the way we were working. It still took almost two months for me to pull it from my project list, though. I didn’t delete it outright, because the subject still interests me, and I intend to read the book at some point.
Go With The Gut
After processing through my project list using the above five steps, I then make one final pass and “tune in” to the projects there. Sometimes I feel a distaste for the project, and I have to reconsider why I wanted to do it to begin with. Often these are projects that are prefaced with “I should really….” These projects are often deleted outright.
Another reaction is a resistance to the project because of what it would mean to have it finished. Getting my will and guardianship papers set up has been a sticking point, as if not having the documents would mean that I would be immortal. In these cases, following through and finalizing the project not only gets it off the list, but lifts a psychological burden as well.
Clearing out your project list can be a freeing activity. Take a look at your list. Can it stand to hibernate a bit?
Photo by bobcat rock