Finish or Punt

Ever have too many projects and don’t know what to do?

Friday was a bit of a panic. I’ve got 8 projects overwhelming me right now. I honestly thought I’d drop all 8 balls and let them come smashing to the floor in a bit of Awesome Failure Glory. Panicked. You know, the “I’m going to be an exceptional failure and never do anything right” kind of day.

So I sent a long letter to the president of my company asking for advice on one of the biggest projects that’s currently on my plate. It was a hard question: I asked if we should pull the plug on a project I’ve been working on for over a year.

He said, take the weekend off. Don’t do anything related to the project and don’t touch a screen, folder, email, idea, notebook, or pen related to this project.

So I took the weekend off. And of course, while not thinking about it, the (metaphorical) table full of projects in my mind seemed to start to organize themselves. And I asked three really smart people around me for advice.  Here’s what the advice came down to, in a nutshell:

Finish or punt.

Pick up one project at a time, give yourself a time limit (for example, a week or a month), and then finish it or get rid of it. Don’t let it sit there.

Unfinished projects sit in your mind, in your space and fester and grow, invading your space, your creativeity, and your time.

Get rid of projects that aren’t working. Finish the other ones and call them done. Make space to work on new things.

Projects without deadlines expand to fill all of your remaining energy. Fix a deadline.  Make a decision. Finish it. Learn from it. Go on and build something else next. More importantly, have the guts to punt when it’s not good enough to finish. Be okay with getting rid of the project. Or finish it.

Just don’t let it sit there.

Oh Heyyyy yeah.

7 Responses to Finish or Punt

  1. Brian Baynes says:

    Thanks for this. What a great concept. The stuff I don’t think I’m paying attention to — all the items on my back burner — just eat away at my vitality, cause me anxiety… Wrap em up or throw em out. I think I have a couple “project bins” to clean out…

    • Sarah says:

      It clutters your mind, seriously. CHUCK IT. It’s kind of refreshing. Do a virtual, “dumping this shit off the side of the bridge” with all the clutter in your brain, telling you that you ought to be doing more. Screw it. Leave it behind. There are better projects ahead.

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