NOTE: Don’t forget to check out the free download at the end of this post!
The amount of effort it takes to complete a project can be overwhelming if the tasks are not broken down into smaller chunks of time.
For years, I have had my own personal system for doing this. But it wasn’t until recently that I actually came up with a way to put it into words.
This post is all about outlining that system and showing you exactly how I approach taking on huge projects. I have used this system for things like:
- Multiple New York Times best-selling book releases
- A $4500 ticket live event (this one was a doozy)
- In-depth audio/video/online training products
Pots, Platters, and Plates: How I Visualize Multiple Projects All at Once
Do you ever feel like you’re trying to do WAAAAAYYY too much all at one time?
Some will call this feeling abnormal. I simply call it “life.”
It is beyond a juggling act. Do you remember seeing on a variety TV show some entertainer spinning plates on sticks? It was a trick to see how many he could keep spinning before one of them fell and broke into many pieces.
That is what the modern entrepreneur is doing. It is modern day plate spinning, with pots and platters added to the equation.
The big tasks are pots.
The medium ones are platters.
Then there are plates—the little things that are still major “musts.”
The project will dictate its category of container. This also depends upon the amount of time and the amount of progress you’ve already made with each project.
If a project is completed and it simply needs to be spun occasionally, it would simply be a plate. Initiating a huge project creates a pot. Platter projects are on the large side, but moving along with tasks assigned and activated.
Here is a visualization of most of the pots, platters, and plates I am overseeing both as Andy Andrews’ manager and as an online brand. I have identified an example of each project type. If you’d like a PDF of this system, click here and I’ll send you one.
Knowing what category your project fits in ahead of time will go a long way in enabling you to continue to proceed in getting any project done. Once you can visualize the container for a project – it will totally eliminate you feeling of being overwhelmed and uncertain. It will give you a deeper depth of understanding of what must be accomplished and on what time period.
Each task has a certain amount of work involved. A number of steps to complete. The size of the task will determine the amount of time spent on it.
And that is where the great unknown lies—the amount of time each task will take. (That’s why finding someone who can meet deadlines is like finding a unicorn.)
Obviously time is measured in minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. They must be placed in the appropriate slots on a schedule. There is an element of waiting for the paint to dry. That can be an unknown amount of time. You use your best guesstimate with what you know to be true.
This is the tricky part. Especially if the project involves collaborating with others.
The Hurricane Effect: How to Collaborate on Projects Without Losing Your Mind
When only I am involved, I know I can get it done. When the project involves others…it becomes more complicated.
Not only do I have all my emotions and baggage to bring to the table, now all of their emotions and baggage have automatically grabbed seats as well.
You must orchestrate all of that. It’s not just twice as much—it’s 10 times as much. And it could be 10 times to the 15th power, depending on how many people are involved or needed to complete the task.
It is easy to fall under the illusion that nothing is being done when working with others. That is why a mature perspective is required in order to properly manage the project.
How many times have tempers flared all because two people on a project were simply uncertain of what each other were doing? This is what I call the “Hurricane Effect.”
Just because things are silent and still and quiet around you, doesn’t mean there’s not a whirlwind of activity taking place with the people around you. You might just be momentarily in the eye of your project’s hurricane.
So often, all it takes to avoid the bad feelings brought on by the “Hurricane Effect” is a gentle push—a phone call, a letter, an email—a simple suggestion may do it. But it first starts with some form or kind of activity.
A nudge may become a push to create a tipping point. But it starts with movement. From a baby step to a giant leap to a full out sprint. You must learn to classify and categorize each one of these activities, and be able to calculate the amount of time needed for their completion.
The 6-Step Process for Keeping All of Your Pots, Platters, and Plates Spinning
There is a guaranteed way to fuel your pots and clean the plates. Your pot is filled. You have a monumental task in front of you. It may be writing a book, creating an online course, or creating a speaking career. It doesn’t matter what it is. Right now it is an idea/concept. You have to bring it forth to reality.
There is a method to this madness. Here are six of the ingredients I use over and over again.
- Give me a one-sentence description of what you want to do with a project. Pretend you’re going to tweet it to me. No more than 140 characters. This is a concentrated sentence of clarity.
- Now give me a list of all the different components of this project. I don’t want the details. Just the big chunks of what must be done to pull this off.
- Now look at the small bits of this project. These are the things that will take a small amount of time. Fit this within your span of attention. I usually like to think in 15- to 20-minute segments. Starting is half finished. My 20-minute segment often goes over to 40-60 minutes at a time.
- Now tell me why you’re doing this. Not some flimsy, quickly stated reason. I want the deep down passion. The “have to.” The thing that makes it worth living every day. What is it?
- Look for the small tasks that you know you will love to do. Do those first. This will give you momentum and keep you rolling on the things that are more challenging. It’s that feeling of accomplishment that you’re looking for. Some of the things you don’t want to do will be assigned to others as you can.
- Now do this daily. Look at what you accomplished. And celebrate. Acknowledge what you have done. Congratulate yourself. What? You didn’t do anything on your goal today? Then don’t go to bed. Not until you at least do a little bit. It’s the next 20 minutes that could make a difference for the rest of your life.
You must always have the end in mind. No matter the task, the ultimate goal must be visualized even as you focus on all the tiny steps it will take to get there.
The desired outcome.
The end result.
The finished product.
All must be settled emotionally and mentally—before the start.
Now, tell me: what are your pots, platters, and plates? What are you doing to keep them in the air? What are you doing to even get them off the ground?
Your next completed task could become your turning point. When would NOW be a good time to get started?
Want a free PDF of my Project Management System pictured earlier in this post? Click here and I’ll send it to you!