When I talk to solopreneur business owners, one of the themes that emerges is overwhelm. There’s just so much to do and even if you have help there’s a lot to learn and manage. One area where you can ease some of your overwhelm is in how you manage your projects. All too often, we put something like “Re-do website” on our project list, and it never gets started much less done. The problem with that project is that it can’t be “done” because it isn’t clear. Most of us would just look at a project like that and get a sick feeling and skip it today, then tomorrow then the next day. It hangs there and makes us feel bad. To reduce the overwhelm in a project like this, I suggest the following 3 steps:
- Start by getting clear on exactly why the project needs to be done and what you hope to accomplish by changing your website. Once you know why you are doing something, much of what else you need to know becomes clear. How much to spend, how high a priority to place, what time frame, etc all become much clearer when you know why you are doing something.
- Once you are clear on the why, you can define the scope of what needs to be done. Defining the scope of a project helps you to know when it’s done. It will also help you avoid “feature creep,” or the tendency to add things in along the way.
- Once you’ve defined the desired outcomes and scope of the project, make a list of the tasks needed to complete the project. Start with just the first few if that’s as far as you can see. The key here is to keep the steps really small – as small as they need to be to stave off overwhelm. For example, your first step might be to find a web person, but that’s still a big, vague task. I suggest starting with a task such as “Make a list of 5 people I can call for a referral.” Next might be “Spend 1 hour reading up on how to hire a web person” followed by “Call people on list.” In each case, the task is very small and focused and “done” is clearly defined.
When I talk to someone who is feeling overwhelmed, using these three steps can often help. Tell me about how you got out of overwhelm on a recent project in the comments.