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Easy Project Organization in 10 Minutes Flat

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Easy Project Organization in 10 Minutes Flat

    One of the easiest things you can do when starting a new project is create a bunch of ideas. These ideas come naturally because you are so enthusiastic with the thought of something new and potentially beneficial to you or your business ventures. But, you soon see that all those ideas become incredibly hard to sift through and organize into a project.

    Project organization can seem like it takes forever, especially if you get caught “in the weeds” of the details of your project. The fact is that initial project organization, for almost any size project, can take as little as 10 minutes if you follow these simple steps.

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    2 Minutes – Define

    Take the first 2 minutes of your planning sessions to write out the goal of the project. Answer these questions to further solidify the goal:

    1. What is the purpose of the project and what will it accomplish?
    2. How will you know when you are done with this project?
    Answering these two questions is essential to organize any project. Without knowing what you are trying to accomplish and what done looks like you won’t be able to identify the right tasks and actions moving forward.

    1 Minute – Identify

    Take the next 1 minute to identify the single next, physical action of your project. If you are a GTD nerd then you know all about the power of the next action and how it can propel you to get form “I don’t know what the heck I am doing” to “one step closer to done.”

    When I say “the next, physical action”, I mean that exactly. If you need to call someone to get a quote on a new set of tires but you don’t know the number of the tire guy, then you next action would be “Google tire guy’s number”. That seems obvious, but it can also be quite subtle.

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    Rather than say my next action is to “think about ‘x’”, ‘x’ being anything under the sun, make my next action “draft 10 reasons why I want to ‘x’”. This gives you a next action that is physical and something that is accomplishable.

    It may seem extreme, but identifying your next action gives you a stake in the ground to start from. Since you identified what the project will look like when it’s done, you now have the starting point and the ending point.

    5 Minutes – Organize

    The next 5 minutes is spent organizing the next steps of your project. This is where you can become too detailed if you aren’t careful; don’t let that happen to you. Instead of analyzing why a certain task will be the best one to do after another certain task, which tasks can be parallel to one another, or what are all the major and minor dependencies of tasks and sub-projects, simply find the tasks that can be done at any time or have a natural order to them.

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    You don’t have to plan the entire project in a matter of 5 minutes, what you need to do is organize a list of tasks in a natural order to move the project past the next physical action. You can always come back and do another 10 minute project planning session to finish your project organization.

    2 Minutes – Review

    Now that you have the bulk of your project organization out of the way, take the last 2 minutes to step back and review your project. If you see any glaring things that need to be changed before you dive in or pass it off to a coworker, take care of them now. Make sure that you next action is truly a next action. Ensure that your list of subsequent actions are laid out naturally and aren’t full of awkward dependencies.

    Lastly, quickly go over the goal of the project and what will be true in your world when the project is completed successfully.

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    There isn’t anything like being able to take a large amount of ideas and snippets of actions and quickly put them together into a full fledge project in 10 minutes. It helps keep the momentum of the ideas flowing and greatly reduces the resistance between idea andaction. While this simple plan may not work for a project like “build a replica of Taj Mahal”, many of the projects that we need to accomplish for our work and lives can be organized in a matter of 4 steps and 10 minutes.

    (Photo credit: An image of a hand with a pen drawing a sketch via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on October 21, 2021

    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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