8 Steps to Decide Project Priorities

Does this sound familiar?

You have a great idea for a new project. You’re so excited about this project that you immediately drop everything else you’re working on and focus on nothing else for the next few days, maybe weeks.

Soon you hit a tough spot. You realize that this project is going to take you months to finish. Other parts of your life decide they no longer like being ignored. You pause the project. Just until you get other things sorted out.

You have a great idea for a new project.

Soon you have 45 projects that you’ve started and fully intend to complete. You don’t understand why you’re so stressed out. All you want to do is crawl into bed.

Confession

This was me about a month ago. I was completely overwhelmed.

I didn’t even realize I had 45 open projects, but I did have an inkling that I had bitten off more than I could chew.

I opened up a text editor and started typing. I listed out every project I was in the middle of. Websites I was building, courses I was taking, books I was reading, parties I was throwing, and home projects I was coordinating. Yeah. No wonder I was overwhelmed.

What to do instead?

  1. Put everything on hold.
  2. Organize the list into categories. Books to read, courses to take, things to build, things to learn, and things to do.
  3. Add any projects I wanted to do, but fortunately hadn’t started yet.
  4. Decide which projects were absolutely essential. I picked my main project that work (don’t want to get fired) and my daughter’s birthday party (not canceling that).
  5. Decide if I have the bandwidth for another project? Yes.
  6. What project, by doing, will make the other projects easier or irrelevant? Fix my diet so I’m not exhausted all the time, gaining weight, and sprinting toward my impending doom.
  7. Take any great ideas for new projects and put them on the list.
  8. Periodically review the list. Remove ideas I don’t care about and promote projects to active when I free up bandwidth.

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Written by Andrew Shell, a Senior Web Engineer/People Lead from Madison, WI.