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Career Coach: Big Project? Go to Pieces

The Career Coach addresses how to manage your time better so that you can finally finish that big pet project youve always wanted to do.

I really want to write an animated script but I have no idea how to do such a big project. It seems like a huge task.

This article will help you learn how to manage your time to accomplish your goals and finish big projects.

Breakdown Large Projects into Smaller Steps

For any project, the first step is to make a plan. Break down the large project into smaller steps or goals. In the case of the script the smaller goals are:

  • Write idea (springboard)

  • Write outline

  • Write treatment

  • Write script (including dialog)

For each of these smaller goals, assign tasks (a to-do list).

Creating a To-Do List: A Schedule of Tasks

Some items on your to-do list might be dependent on completing another item. For example in writing the script you cannot write the outline, treatment and script until you write the idea. So mark: write idea #1. Follow this method for all other tasks needed to complete the script. (Write outline would be #2.) Then, as you do each item in order of its importance, cross it off the list. This method will work for any large project just break down the large project into smaller ones and complete the specific tasks required.

Once you have a to-do list, you must commit yourself to accomplishing each goal by setting a date for completion. Writing the idea might take a week (deciding on the idea is what will take the time). Write the date for completion of each item on the to-do list.

Set Deadlines

Go through the rest of the items on the to-do list and set dates for completion by each task. (Do this in pencil, in case your dates slide). For example, it might take another week for you to write an outline and several weeks to write your treatment.

Stick to the schedule and work on the big project whenever you can. When you get to the point of writing the script with dialog, set smaller goals of the number of pages you want to complete each day. With small steps, you will accomplish a big goal. With your plan in place and your to-do list as a reminder, just keep going and don't let setbacks set you back. If you get distracted, post your goal in several spots to remind yourself of what you want to accomplish. Write your current #1 goal on several post-its and place them in strategic areas where you will see them such as the bathroom mirror, refrigerator, computer monitor and car dashboard.

Display a project board or production board in a spot you will see it every day. List all the tasks you need to do with the expected dates of completion. As you fill in the actual completion dates, the board will help keep you on track and also show you the progress you've made.

With your reminders, you will find yourself working more on your goals than you thought you would and, step by step, you'll get that big project done.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter, hiring strategist, career coach and speaker. On Feb. 2, 2006, Pamela will present a seminar on goal setting. For details see Pamela is also available for personal consultations and speaking engagements.