Every project gets stuck in one way or another. Sometimes a tough spot in a project stops progress permanently. Let’s talk about why that happens and how to fix it. Finishing a project (or choosing not to complete it) is work worth doing.
Problem: Overwhelming workload. You took on too much or a project seems too ambitious.
Solution: Break it apart! Small steps and a crossed off list are little successes you need to get things moving again.
Problem: Lost direction. Aspects of the work have changed or you learned something new that affected the work required.
Solution: Look back at original plan. Where were you headed then, and what changed? Is the problem you were trying to solve still there? Changing course isn’t a death sentence for a project.
Problem: You are distracted.
Solution: Remind yourself why this is important, and that none of us can know how finishing a project will be helpful until the work is done.
Problem: You or someone else talked yourself out of the idea. Or, you did the work mentally and felt good about a future outcome.
Solution: Return to a small commitment you can be excited about, and revise your goals.
Problem: Scope creep (similar to lost direction).
Solution: Make sure you can deliver on the basic idea and see if it is enough to build on later. Get the pressure off for other aspects of the work by fulfilling the project’s basic needs.
Problem: Bad neighbors – Coworkers who won’t follow through are dragging you and your project down.
1) Check their interest level. It can help to remind them of the stakes of finishing the project.
2) Give constructive feedback and set managable expectations.
3) Consider removing them from the project. If it is a personal project, remember that nobody will be as excited about your project as you are. If money is involved, keep good records of your conversations and always follow through.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 as long as you are able without compromising your motivation and intentions. It is easy to blame others for the way a project is going, but letting the problem continue is a choice.
Problem: Fear of the unknown. What will working on this project do to your current commitments? What if you get stuck? What if it fails? What if…?
Solution: Remember that anything new or different is uncomfortable at first, and that this is how we grow. There will always be aspects of the work to worry about. If worry is a problem, try to turn it into excitement. What can happen if you succeed? If you fail and finish the work anyway, what could you learn from that? Could you learn things to roll into a future project? If your friend was worrying like this, what would you say to them?
Stuck projects will happen, what you do about it is what matters.