Monday, November 29, 2010

Making Progress an Hour at a Time

Over the past month, I've been trying to make progress against several large projects. The problem is that each project needs about 20 to 30 hours to complete and I usually don't have the motivation to do the project continuously for several days. My solution has been to work on the project each day for about an hour. My rationale is that I can work on anything for an hour.

This strategy has helped me make significant progress against a some of my projects. Here are the types of projects in which I found the strategy worked best.
  • Work is naturally spread out over time. The leaves in our yard fall over a two month period. I used to prefer waiting a week or two before starting to rake the leaves. That way I could minimize the number of times I needed to work on an area. This year, I decided to work on the leaves for about an hour each day. Often that meant working on only a limited section of the yard each time. However, by doing this, raking leaves never seemed to be a daunting task and noticeable progress was made each day.

  • Minimal set time. Several of our gardening projects require nearly zero set up time to do the work: trimming, fertilizing, weeding, and ground cover edging. I can work on these projects an hour at a time, fill up a garbage can, and make noticeable progress.

    Reducing clutter in my home office and filing important records also falls into this category.

  • Annual routine tasks. Rather than wait until tax time to gather records and record the information, I've been taking about 1/2 hour a week to file records and put the information in a spreadsheet. While I will still need about 5-10 hours to complete my tax return, I won't need to spend 25-30 hours preparing.
  • Of course, this approach won't work for all my projects, especially those that require significant set up or clean up time. For example, when home or yard maintenance projects require an extension ladder, multiple tools, significant clean up or an additional helper, I prefer to work several hours at a time to minimize the proportion of preparation time.

    For more on Strategies and Plans, check back every Monday for a new segment.

    This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2010 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

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