Monday, 2 March 2015

Don't worry about finishing, focus on starting.

Big projects are so hard to finish.

Thats why I never try to finish them, I focus on starting them, and if I stop I focus on starting again.

The truth is that you'll never be able to work on something and guarantee that you wont be stopped or interrupted by something. Thats just life.

So concentrating on finishing something is counter productive from the get go because you're doomed to fail.

You're a hundred times better off if you focus on starting and allowing the progress you make each time you start to accumulate.

It's been said that truly great projects are never finished anyway, only abandoned. So starting often and building upon your previous work is the best way to get a big project over the line, because as the project gets more and more complete it becomes harder to find new things to start. And when you get to the point that there is no task to start, you can happily say the project is as done as it needs to be.

The other benefit of multiple little starts is that you get to set yourself small achievable goals... like setting up source control, wire framing the project, setting coding standards, etc (yes I'm talking about programming jobs here, but the theory applies to anything).

The other benefit of starting often is that each time you get to look at the project with fresh eyes. The project and the requirements may have changed since you first started it, and at each new start you get to re-set your game plan in line with reality.

The software development methodology called "Scrum" is based almost entirely on the principle of re-evaluating and re-starting your project repeatedly overs it's life cycle.

Starting lots of times also gets you into the habit of thinking in terms of tasks your actually have a chance to finish before life gets in the way. This is good because it helps you think about you're work in achievable chunks, or bite sized pieces if you prefer.

If you find yourself starting a project at the same point all the time then your not carrying over your progress and you need to start thinking about ways to work on smaller tasks with persistent benefits.

Finally remember that it's OK to restart a project after a long hiatus, i know so many personal projects that get abandoned because they person stops and then thinks of the project as having failed or expired.

But starting a project is like getting onto a horse, if you get bucked off, you get on the horse again just like you start a project again. The reason you stopped doesn't matter.

I've worked on many projects that finished while I wasn't looking, you look round and realise that you've met all the fitness criteria and just hadn't noticed till now. Starting a project, however, is not something that happens without personal engagement and choice.

Start now, start often, let finishing take care of itself.


No comments:

Post a Comment