Lesson 4: Setup Time-Boxed Completion Cycles

This is the fourth lesson in the Get It Done Now Series.

In the previous lesson, I talked about using Trello.com to manage your projects. It’s a simple application you can use in any web browser or mobile device. I mentioned to stick to one week “intervals” for doing projects. I’ll expound on this now.

One Week

The pace of change is very quick today as compared to even a decade ago. It doesn’t take long for something to quickly be irrelevant. Not only that, when you get a spark for an idea, that spark doesn’t last long. Kind of like trying to start a camp fire in the wild, you’ve got to nurture the flame while it lasts.

It’s because of this I recommend you use Trello.com in weekly cycles. This means on Sunday, plan out your 7 to 10 key tasks (more if you are feeling gusto). These are your absolutely must complete tasks for the week. There can be no delay.

One week will create urgency with your projects. If you delay even one day in the week, you’ll already be behind. If you’ve worked on your default behavior on your computer to be making progress on your projects, this will become a non issue.

So one week – Sunday to Saturday. Take a time as early as you can on Sunday to plan out your week with your 7 to 10 tasks or more. Then get busy.

Breaking Down Large Goals

You might have this big frickin’ goal of dominating the world with your project. Unless you are a demi-god, this is unlikely to happen in a short amount of time. True progress comes from small pieces put together consistently over a long period of time.

As a web developer, I started in around 2001. It’s taken me about 10 years to truly know, understand, and master my craft in this area…

So let’s take a goal and as an example, I will use: “Grow my business to 100 customers.”

A good way to tackle this goal is to break it down. Why not start with 1 customer. If you already have a website and business, the way you might get your first customer could go something like this:

  • Task: Find 10 relevant blogs/websites to comment on and then contact the owner with my product/offering. Ask those owners if they’d be interested in your product.
  • Task: Create 10 Google Adwords Campaigns And Spend $2.00 per day on those ads until someone converts and buys my product.
  • Task: Remove/adjust Google Adwords campaigns that perform the worst on the last day of the week.

This is just to get your first customer. Don’t worry about getting 100. Until you get 1, 100 will never happen. I really like starting with your first customer or sale. Then you can take what got you that sale and shoot for 2, then 3, then 4, 5, and so on – replicating the success you have with your first sale when you get it.

For most big goals, they can be broken down into small pieces that completed over and over again will achieve the big goal…

Always Have One Task In Progress

As a juggler, I can keep about 3 tennis balls in the air at a time before they all come crashing down and I play the part of fool. I like to play it even safer – have only one task in progress at a time. Work on it UNTIL it is done. If you find it too big, break it down using the concept of getting 1 customer above. The task should be a small piece of the greater whole.

It’s essential that you use the Trello.com project board and physically add your tasks and drag them to “In Progress” and “Done.” You might think this is tedious and un-necessary work. Let me share why I think this is absolutely critical.

I’m a scrum master at my day job. This means I help organize the work (software development) we’re doing and make sure it gets done. Some people at the company use our graphical task board to drag their work items over and others do not. There is a night and day difference between the organization and work completed of those who consistently use the board to track their work.

Remember the lesson piece about linking and your mind. Physically using the project board on Trello.com creates an intent in your mind that this is what you will do with your time. This done over time creates a very good habit of getting things done.

Recap

We’ve learned that one week is a good start for setting a list of work items to do for your project. Any more than that and the rust starts to pile up. I also explained breaking down large goals into smaller bits and pieces. These small bits repeated over and over are the key to success. Finally, have one and only one task in progress at all times and religiously use the Trello.com project board to stay on track.

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