School time is drawing near. Can’t you just feel it? Whether you are 6 or 60, I bet 99% of us feel some kind of anticipation as summer winds down and the school year approaches.
And with school come projects – short and long-term projects that demand focus and discipline to complete. How do you feel at the thought of starting a new project?
Do you find yourself feeling stuck before you begin? Whether you stall out or rush in, I think you’ll find these tips about preparation extremely helpful.
You benefit in a number of ways by engaging in thoughtful mental and physical action steps prior to starting any project. They help you maintain your motivation and momentum, and you establish a physical environment conducive to productivity.
For example, have you ever sat down at your desk to begin working on your project, only to realize that you need to immediately get up and get something you need? Whenever this type of break in the action occurs, momentum is lost and the motivation is diminished. Not only that, but these breaks create openings for other distractions to enter and pull you off course.
Instead of encountering this familiar and frustrating situation, prepare in advance. Avoid ‘timing difficulties’ by maintaining commitment and focus. There are four elements to consider, and we’ll explore two of these Project Tips today.
Project Tip #1: Mental Preparation.
We are all familiar with the process of world-class athletes (especially after witnessing this year’s Olympics). They go through a mental rehearsal as an important first step in preparing for success. This same cognitive process brings equally beneficial results when used prior to beginning your project.
Get into the habit of opening your imagination to ideas about your intended activity. For several days (or several weeks, if you have the time), encourage yourself to creatively think about the desired outcome
of your project. That way, ideas emerge and frameworks begin to develop naturally, in the midst of your everyday thoughts.
Also, carry a small notebook or digital voice recorder. Any time intriguing ideas and other components relevant to your project surface, make a quick note. By harvesting the best of your ideas in advance, you begin your project enriched with thoughts, questions and conclusions to build upon.
Project Tip #2: Prepare Your Physical Landscape.
Envision your ideal setting, where everything you need to maintain your focus is right at your fingertips. Concretize these items by jotting them down in your notebook. What supplies and resource materials will you want close at hand? Some necessary items to include might be:
- A computer
- Several blank lined tablets
- A paper calendar on which you can make notes
- Several pens or sharpened pencils, depending on your preference
- A clock and/or timer.
- Sticky pads of different colors, shapes and sizes
- Resource materials
- Green tea, water, and even aspirin.
This list, compiled over time as you think of the different items you need, will enable you to set up your environment quickly, and ensure that it is uniquely suited to your preferred working style.
Your mental and physical preparation for your project should prevent the two most common obstacles to achievement: a blank page with no ideas to jump-start your thinking, and frustration over the limitations of your working environment. Trying these two Project Preparation Tips will free up your energy to focus fully on your project. See how much more productive (and satisfied) you can be, as you step into fall!
© Copyright 2012 Paula Eder, Ph.D.