7 Insanely Simple Ways to Ensure Your Project Gets Done

Written on 4/18/2008 by Jared Goralnick, blogger at Technotheory.com and Productivity Evangelist for AwayFind.

When you had a paper due at 2pm, you got it in on time. Whether it was for your professor or your boss, there was outside pressure.

Today however, many of your goals are only due to yourself. With no one watching over your shoulder, will you have the motivation and drive to complete something tough?

Let me give you two examples of creating commitment.

After, we’ll go through some tips to ensure you leave with a way to easily implement a fool proof system.

At Home Example: Organizing the Garage
I’d really wanted to organize the garage but it took about six months to get started. Once I finally did, it only took about five hours because I recruited a friend to help. My friend and I decided to have a “Project Weekend”–she’d help with my stuff on Saturday and I with hers on Sunday. We scheduled it a month in advance and we both followed through.

Now my garage is organized and squeaky clean. At her place, I helped install lights and build furniture. As a bonus, we actually had a lot of fun.

At Work Example: the Buddy Call
I run a small business and there are many tasks I want to work on (like blog posts) that don’t have solid deadlines. A couple years ago I started a twice monthly check-in call with a colleague who also runs a small business. We discuss our highs, lows, accomplishments, and goals for the next couple weeks.

Since we look up to each other and know we’ll be checking in, it motivates us to get things done. Two added benefits:

  • Together we’ll often find better ways to approach a particular goal
  • We now have someone to discuss revenue, employees, and other topics that are often confidential or taboo

Above were very specific examples of how I involved others to add commitment to my goals. By involving others, you are putting yourself on display and therefore, there are people watching to add motivation.

Here are some more general tips that can help you to stay more accountable for the projects you seem to constantly avoid:

  1. Commit to an outside deadline – if you can tie in your goals with existing schedules, you’ll more likely finish. You might try scheduling a party at your house if you want to get unpacked or clean up, registering (and paying for) a business plan competition if you want to get the plan written, or signing up for a class in the skill you want to learn–both monetary and social commitments will help you to follow through
  2. Schedule a time with someone else to work together – like my “Project Weekend,” a scheduled time with someone else can accomplish wonders and be a lot of fun. It’s always great if you can return the favor, too
  3. Set a reasonable deadline, and continually tell others about it – the more often you discuss your deadline the more you’ll start believing you can meet it. This will also help to create pressure, which will be furthered if you…
  4. Announce your goal in a large forum – nobody likes to fail for the world, so announce your ambition on your blog, newsletter, mass email, gathering of friends, or at a company meeting.
  5. Join a community involved in similar goals – if you’re surrounded by people starting up businesses, taking photos, speaking Spanish, or whatever your goal is…that’ll help motivate you to do the same
  6. Find a collaborator for your project – if you’re worried about getting it done on your own, allow others to participate so you can motivate each other to succeed. This is more than just working together, this will help to share the responsibility
  7. Create a competition - put a significant value (monetary, a trip, a favor, etc) on your respective goals. For instance, if you were trying to improve the number of readers on your blog, you could find a blogger in a similar position and compete for the first to get 1000 subscribers…with the loser paying for the other’s ticket to a major blogger conference. Look for someone who is in a similar place and create a real competition that you can both take seriously

You may be a motivated hard-worker, but outside pressure and competition will help you to act faster.

How do you keep your eyes on the project despite the lack of motivation?

- Jared


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