If you are stuck in a rut with getting your project complete, it may be time to step back and examine what type of project person you really are. Knowing this may give you some clues about why that project remains petrified in your lengthening list of to-dos.
I’ve identified three types of project people. Let’s discuss…
The project person with laser-focus is pretty darn amazing. She focuses on only one project at a time and bowls threw her long list of tasks to get that project complete. She loves checking off the boxes of the completed tasks. Having all those checkmarks next to a long list of to-do items is very motivating. Once her mind has been set to complete her project, you better believe it will get done in the most efficient way. She’s got those super distraction blockers and they work so well!
The struggle: Although once she gets started, you can’t stop her, she will often need help pulling things together. Things need to be perfectly in place, all ducks in a row, before she can get started. She gets caught up in over-researching, over-planning and over-thinking, in order to make her well-oiled machine perfect so that she can start (can you say procrastination?). She always needs more information – because how can she know exactly what needs to be done, if she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know?
I like to think of the project person with no focus as an innovator. She can work on multiple projects at once, but she knows her limits on how many projects to take on at a time (usually one or two or even three). While she is working on a project, she gets so many ideas about how to make it bigger, better, prettier or faster. She is the go-to person when you want to know how to enhance or embellish ideas and add new features to an otherwise boring project.
The struggle: With so many innovations, comes many more tasks. The no-focus project person keeps coming up with so many new ideas for her project that the project gets larger and larger and larger. Every new idea leads to a new feature and every new feature is bigger and better than the last! As her project gets larger, it gets more overwhelming. She can get started on her project, but she won’t know when or how to finish.
This project person is truly inspired…by everything. With a wild imagination and curiosity, the all-over-the-place project person is a project start-up superstar. She has so many ideas for new projects that are useful, interesting, unique and just plain fun to do. Her mind races daily about new ideas and how she can get them started. She enjoys having a variety of tasks to work on that support her many interests.
The struggle: She is such an idea machine that she really doesn’t have time to procrastinate or plan. She is ready to start up the next project…until another more important project gets her attention. She never spends time over-researching or over-planning, in fact, she may not have a plan at all. The all-over-the-place project person never needs to worry about her projects getting larger and larger, because she can never focus on one long enough! Whenever a new ideas comes along, it must be started immediately – even if that means dropping all of her other projects.
Do you identify with one of the three types of project people?
I’m sure you relate to one, mostly, but also find that you have the tendencies of all of them. For example, I define myself as the All-Over-the-Place Project Person. I currently have about 15 or 16 projects in my project binder. Most of them are in progress in some way or another, but it’s sad to say there aren’t any that are complete. However, I do see characteristics of myself being laser-focused at times. Plowing through a list of tasks for a project is pretty easy for me if it’s something I have to do (like working with a contractor for repairing a door) versus something I’m inspired to do.
Now, if it’s a project I’m very passionate about, I become more like that no-focus project person does. I get really into it and think of more and more ideas that can make the project even better. Recently, I have learned to tame that beast, slightly. I am able to determine a “scope” for a project and stick with it, not adding any additional bells and whistles along the way. Of course that initial scope may be HUGE, but I build that into my planning during brainstorming I’ve had to learn to be very selective when new ideas come.
In a future post we’ll look at how each of these project people can get move forward on their perfect projects! But for now, please share what type of creative project manager you are!