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Tackle the Monster Project

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We all have a dragon to slay -- that low priority, high effort project that's lurking at the bottom of your to-do list. It's tempting to keep putting it off, but projects like this can create a surprising amount of ongoing stress. Taking steps, even small steps to get to them and clear them will improve your work life. Once a project like this is out of the way, it frees you to focus on tasks that yield greater rewards. Here are some things you can do get it done and off of your plate.

Create Accountability

It’s easy to fly under the radar when you have a monster project and creating accountability is one way to combat this tendency. Make sure other people know that you plan to be working on it. Big projects linger because they lack clearly defined, pressing deadlines. Create deadlines for yourself and then stick to them. Be specific when you tell people your work schedule. If you are a morning person with the most energy early in the day, let others know that’s when you’ll be focusing on it. Save other more interesting projects for later.

Chip Away a Little Each Day

Keeping an eye on the big picture is important, but every bit as essential is being able to consistently accomplish small amounts. Many people make the mistake of waiting until they are inspired to work on something. A much better practice is to make it a habit of chipping away at a monster project a little at a time. Create a schedule and stick to it. Beware of procrastinating. The most dangerous type of procrastination is unacknowledged--when you manage to get everything else done but what you should be accomplishing. There is a Zen saying: “Always be a beginner.” Adopting a fresh attitude every time you work at your project will keep it from feeling like a chore.

Adopt a Reward System

Rewarding yourself when you meet a deadline is a good incentive and can keep you going when it feels like your “monster project” is going to devour you. A well-known management principle is “You get what you reward.” Good leaders recognize that when they provide a positive consequence (reward) for a job well done, they increase the chance of having the positive behavior increased. This same principle goes for rewarding yourself. Every time you reward yourself, the process itself reinforces the habit of rewarding the behavior you wish to encourage so that your unconscious is totally engaged in your strive for success. Sometimes telling someone about a goal or milestone you’ve reached is reward enough. Others respond better to tangible rewards like massages, ice cream sundaes or treating yourself to concert tickets. When you are making progress on your project, it’s up to you to show yourself that you appreciate your own efforts.

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