How to map out and finish a big project in plenty of time

How to map out and finish a big project in plenty of time

Do you have a big project coming up? I just helped a friend with this, so I wanted to share my strategies for mapping out a big project and getting it done with plenty of time!

When I was helping the friend, she needed to get several pieces of an application done before a deadline. She was fretting that she didn’t have enough time to get all of it done and ready to submit in ten days.

“Easy!” I told her.

“You just think it’s easy because you’re a Type 3.”

Not so, my friends. Yes, if you’re a Type 3 on the enneagram, you are a highly motivated individual who loves projects and deadlines and getting work done. But Type 3s aren’t the only people who have to get a big project done on a deadline sometimes.

Set yourself up for success and use my tips for big projects.

1 – Write down all of the tasks you need to complete.

You know I love a brain dump.

Open up a blank page in your notebook (or a blank note on your iPhone, whatever) and dump all of the deliverables that you’ll need to complete. Break it down into smaller sub-tasks if needed. Remember – it’s a lot easier to write 100 words in 5 sittings than it is to write 1,000 words in one sitting.

In the case of my friend above, she knew she needed:

  • To update her resume.
  • To review her portfolio.
  • Two recommendation letters.
  • Three essays.
  • An introductory video.

And a few other miscellaneous things.

To me, that’s totally easy – because I use my strategies for big projects!

[READ MORE: The 30-day productivity challenge]

2 – Review your calendar.

How many days do you have until the deadline? What days can you definitely accomplish at least some work?

Map out your calendar and see how many days you have to work. Note what days you’ll have a heavier load and what days you can accomplish more.

Seriously, write all of it out. Take extra care to highlight the day you’ll need to submit the project.

3 – Match your tasks to the time you have available.

You should know approximately how long each task you need to complete should take you. I recommend frontloading your timeline with the tasks that require other people’s help or input (like recommendation letters), as well as the tasks you know will be the most unwieldy.

Be reasonable with your expectations for yourself. For my friend above, we mapped her timeline out to look like this:

  • 1 – Update resume and ask for recommendation letters.
  • 2 – Review portfolio.
  • 3 – Write essay #1 and shoot video.
  • 4 – Write essay #2 & #3.
  • 5-7 – Work on creative assignment.
  • 8 – Ask for feedback.
  • 9 – Tweak.
  • 10 – Submit.

Doesn’t this look way more manageable when you break it out into small bite-sized pieces?

4 – Stick to your schedule.

Now that you have the plan… Stick to it.

Hold yourself to the schedule that you’ve made for yourself. If you were reasonable in your expectations, this shouldn’t be an issue. If you weren’t reasonable with your expectations for yourself, then you will run into some trouble. Prepare for that!

[READ MORE: How to work among chaos]

HOW TO FINISH A BIG PROJECT ON TIME

Do you have a big project coming up? I just helped a friend with this, so I wanted to share my strategies for mapping out a big project and getting it done with plenty of time! 

EVERYDAY PAIGE BLOG