Galvin and Associates

What to do When Projects Get Stuck



Do you sometimes feel you are not making progress on things that are important to you?

As a part of my regular weekly review, I update my list of Current Projects. This list has everything I want to get done, including work, home, family, and personal projects. These projects represent commitments I’ve made to me and others. (David Allen calls this the 10,000 foot perspective.)

A couple weeks ago I noticed I had several projects that were not moving forward. I was making no progress whatsoever for months. I took some time to look closely at each of these and what was holding me back. I discovered several different kinds of “stuckness.”

Don’t have the money
I was taking no action on several projects because I do not currently have the financial resources for them and I don’t want to borrow money for them. If you don’t either, then you have three alternatives. One is to search for other ways to find cash. Another is to look for cheaper alternatives or substitutes. If you have to wait in order to save money for the project, then postpone it by taking it off your current projects lists and putting onto a future projects list (the 20,000 foot perspective).

Waiting on others
Perhaps you can’t start a project because you’re waiting on other people for permission, to make a decision together, or for their assistance. Perhaps you haven’t connected because you’re busy and they’re busy. Your next step is to schedule a meeting or phone call so that you can get what you need in order to start the project.

Timing is not right
I have a couple bushes and need to be trimmed. I wanted to make sure I did it right, so I did some research online before proceeding. I found out that these particular bushes were best trimmed after they flower in the spring. That meant I could do nothing on this project for the next six months. I postponed it by moving it to my future projects list.

Self-punishing task
Perhaps one of your projects involves distasteful tasks for you. You know you need to do it but you still don’t do it, like getting a flu shot or bringing your car in for scheduled maintenance. If you’re having difficulty with motivation, your next step is to arrange for some positive reinforcements. This can be as simple as selecting a reward for completing the project or asking a friend to apply some positive peer pressure.

No longer a priority
Sometimes a project used to be a good idea but now more important projects have come on your list, or conditions have changed to a point where this project is a “nice to do” instead of a “need to do.” Either delete it or postpone it by moving it to your future projects list.

Unsure what to do
Sometimes a project stalls because you don’t know what to do. You may not even know how to get started. In this case your next step is to gather more information. You can do some research online, buy a book, or ask a knowledgeable friend for advice.

If you don’t have one already, take an hour to make a list of all your current projects. Then for each project ask yourself, “What is my next step?” This is what helped me get unstuck recently. It might help you get moving on the things most important to you.

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