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How to Decide Which Projects to Drop

Feeling overwhelmed? Figure out which projects you should drop, stat.

By
Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #142

How to Identify the Most Important Projects

You may find many of your projects relate to the same larger goal. If so, figure out which project is most effective at working towards that goal and punt the others. Each week I scavenge the local junkyard for toasters. I buy toasters on eBay. And I send my zombies dumpster diving on trash day to find old toasters. Why? Because toasters are the ideal source of spare parts for my obedient robot army. Robots are more reliable than zombies. But three separate projects related to toaster acquisition are silly. Goodbye, junkyard and eBay. From now on, toaster acquisition is just for the zombies. Even if they do have an unfortunate tendency to accidentally toast body parts. (Why do you think I’m upgrading to a robot army?)

Make Sure the Projects Match Your Goals

One of my projects is “update online Facebook profile.” Why? Er, because the Great Mark Zuckerman in his infinite wisdom programmed me to … OK. This is a project that doesn’t have a real goal. Nuke it. You may find that lots of projects that seemed like a good idea at the time don’t actually relate to any real goal in your life. Eliminate them, mercilessly.

In my new book that’s coming out September 2010, Get-it-Done Guy’s 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More, I give you a whole system for making sure your projects always support your goals. Order your copy today at WorkLessAndDoMore.com.

Hmm… My next 23 projects include “darn socks,” “buy new socks,” “find old socks,” “investigate interdimensional wormhole behind dryer,” and “get more sandals.” All of those projects serve my goal to have warm, well-protected feet. If you find that a single goal is taking up an inappropriately large chunk of your life, consider dropping many of the projects related to that goal.

Drop Projects Faster Than You Take On New Ones

Systematically dropping your projects won’t help if you say “Yes” to new projects faster than you drop the existing ones from your list. Begin building boundaries in your life where you learn to turn down chances to take on new projects. Practice say things to friends like, “I’m sure fighting for non-toxic wallpaper paste is a truly important cause. I’m afraid I can’t take it on as a project right now. I hope you understand.” If you need help saying No, review my episode on How to Say No Gracefully.

Sam wants to get to the point where his entire project list fits in his head. I’ve been there, and the memory fills me with bliss. Real bliss. The kind of bliss most people get only by meditating for 40 years.

The way to bliss is dropping projects that relate to outdated goals, that are redundant, that don’t lead to achieving goals, or that focus you way too much on socks. Dropping a project doesn’t mean you can never do it. It just means dropping the intention to do it any time soon. Letting it go so it doesn’t occupy your mind. So you can relax, feel good, and pretend you’re on a tropical island, swimming in a giant swimming pool full of tasty tropical fruit juices.

… Until the robots arrive. Bwah ha ha ha ha ha!

RESOURCES:
- https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/relationships/professional/saying-no-to-difficult-requests my episode on how to say no gracefully

Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!

Overworked Man image courtesy of Shutterstock

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About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.