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The Secret To Completing An Overwhelming Project Effectively

The Secret To Completing An Overwhelming Project Effectively

You’ve just been assigned a monster project at work or school.

You’re feeling a bit intimidated and rightly so…there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.

Where do you begin? How can you ensure your work moves along at an even pace and doesn’t fall through the cracks?

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Here are seven tips that will help you take on that huge project like a productivity pro!

Plan slowly to move quickly.

Making plans before starting work on a project is always a good idea. An even better idea is to take the time to develop well-thought out and solid plans. Don’t just slap down a brief three-sentence plan and get to work! Get to the heart of your project by thinking about all the different components involved, including goals, targets, deliverables and tasks. Write down the general stages or sections for your project, and then work your way down to specific tasks. Create a first, second or third draft of your plans as necessary. The more thorough you are in your planning, the easier and quicker it will be to execute each specific task or item in future.

Build-in time for testing and reviewing.

Working on any project is difficult enough and you certainly don’t need the added stress of trying to find time for your project when you’re in the thick of things. As you develop your project’s plans, be sure to include time for you to test, review, proof and finalize your work or materials. Depending on the length and scope of your project, you may need to add in a couple of extra days, weeks or months. Even if you don’t use your time buffer for testing and reviewing purposes, you’ll still have the luxury of using this time to take care of any other loose ends related to your project.

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Define and accept when something is good enough.

While you should be proud of the work you produce, being overly nitpicky and obsessive about the quality of your work when it’s perfectly fine as is won’t be much help to you if it makes you miss a deadline! There really is such as thing as work being just “good enough.” Set specific guidelines as to the features or aspects your project must have as a finished project and quantify information where necessary. When your project has reached your guidelines, it’s time to stop working on it, no ifs, ands or buts.

Make a clear division of labor.

Projects can become unnecessarily complex and confusing when roles and responsibilities aren’t properly spelled out. Take into account the people who will actually be working on the project. Who are the project managers, supervisors and staff? What are their roles? What specific tasks are people responsible for? Who should people report to if there is an issue or concern? Be sure to review your notes a couple of times to make sure items are not duplicated, repeated, or improperly assigned. It might also be helpful to have someone else take a look your notes to make sure you didn’t forget or overlook something.

Ask for help when you need it.

Even the best worker needs a bit of help now and then. If you are in need of help during a project, don’t be afraid to be vocal about it! Be specific in your request including what type of help you need, when you’ll need the help, where you’ll need the help and so on. You should also be sure to keep in touch with your helpers to make sure they are completing the assigned tasks as directed and address any questions they may have.

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Keep communications clear.

Communication is key in any project. Lots of time can be wasted when information is misinterpreted, misread or misconstrued. Give instructions and directions in clear and simple terms so there’s no confusion. You should also strongly consider specifying communication methods people should use for a project, be it via in-person meetings, phone, text or email. This way, information can be communicated quickly and efficiently.

Document your progress.

You don’t have to create a full-blown status report each and every day as you are working on your project, but it is helpful to take general notes to track your progress. Write down what items have been completed, what issues came up as well as other concerns or snippets of information you’ve learned along the way. You’ll have a helpful reference tool to show you where you are in your project and how far you have to go until you complete it.

What concerns you the most when it comes to completing a large project? Leave a comment below.

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Featured photo credit: VFS Digital Design via flickr.com

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Rashelle Isip

Blogger, Consultant, and Author

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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