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How to Revive a Dead Project in 8 Easy Steps

Do you have a long list of ideas or projects you have never gotten around to working on?

Entrepreneurs are constantly identifying new opportunities. In fact, a common problem entrepreneurs face is not coming up with ideas, but finding time to follow through with them all.

To solve this problem, I have listed eight steps that will break this habit of procrastinating good ideas, and instead, help to bring old projects back from the dead.

1. Make a list

As entrepreneurs, we are always coming up with new and exciting ideas. Unfortunately, due to previous commitments, these ideas frequently take a backseat and are often forgotten.

In order to revive these dead projects, the first thing you need to do is prevent yourself from forgetting these ideas. To do this, make sure you are keeping an active list of all of your future projects.

There are two additional benefits to this. Firstly, the act of writing the idea down makes it that much more likely to be acted upon since it has been recognized, recorded and is easily referred to.

Secondly, if you have a long repository of ideas you haven’t worked on, you might be motivated to work on the list in order to feel more productive.

2. Prioritize

Some ideas get you more excited than others. This excitement might be your entrepreneurial instinct telling you that a certain idea has potential, or maybe your excitement is from an ambition that will drive an idea forward much more quickly. Either way, allow your excitement to guide you when prioritizing your idea list.

By emphasizing these ideas in your records, you are indicating which ideas are favored. This ensures your time is utilized most effectively since you are addressing your highest potential ideas first.

3. Choose an idea

Now that you’ve gotten into the habit of listing and prioritizing your ideas, you must look through your idea book and identify an idea you want to start now.

Pick a high-priority idea you remember being most excited about. An idea that is easier to start is often a plus.

More effective ideas that are usually easier to start are those that are related to one of your existing businesses. Instead of needing to start a new business, you might only need a new department, staff member or piece of equipment.

The most important thing to remember at this step is that you must look through your idea list and pick one in order to get started. You cannot move forward if you haven’t identified a specific project you want to get to work on.

4. Divide the project into steps, then schedule

You have picked out an idea you feel you will stay committed to. Now you must follow through.

To do this, break up this project into steps you or your staff can take action on right away. You might not know all of the steps, but identifying as much as possible will help to break this project down into simple, easier to accomplish parts.

Now, you must schedule these steps accordingly. Estimate the amount of time each step will take and schedule timeframes and due dates for each. Take NO breaks in between steps.

Remember, to ensure you are getting the most out of each step, make sure these small milestones are Specific, able to be Measured, Attainable, Relevant to the project and has a Timeframe. This is often called having “SMART” steps or goals.

5. Make it a top priority

However your task list is managed for you and your staff, make sure the steps for this project is of top priority.

These steps should be the things you get to work on right away, and must be completed before anything else gets done.

This is extremely important. Since you have gotten into the habit of postponing this project in the past, you need to to force yourself to break this habit by assigning these tasks high priority.

This will take a lot of discipline, so it must be scheduled with high priority consistently.

6. Adhere to the schedule without deviation

In order to break the habit of postponing this project, its high-priority status must stick. Thus, you must maintain discipline in adhering to this idea’s schedule until you naturally recognize this project as an integral part of your business.

Even if this project is skipped for one working day, your old habits will begin to reemerge. Remember, this idea has undergone years of postponement, so this old habit will be hard to break.

It will be extremely easy to suspend this project again unless you fight the habit. You must stick to this schedule tightly until this habit is broken.

7. Continue to identify and schedule new steps as they arise

Adhering to a strict and disciplined schedule is not enough. Because you will not know all of the necessary steps when beginning a project, you must actively identify and schedule new steps as they are discovered.

This is important because you don’t want to allow even one day to go by without working on a step for this project.

As you identify each new step, make sure it is “SMART“, and schedule it right away.

8. Repeat until the procrastination habit is broken

You are trying to break the habit of postponing this project, which is why you have to remain strict when scheduling and adhering to your daily task list.

Eventually, you will condition yourself to habitually assign this project a high priority. This is an indication that you can be less stringent on scheduling these tasks.

A side benefit to this practice is that future disregarded projects will be more easily prioritized and revived without being forgotten again.

Are there any other tips for breaking habits of procrastination or the postponing of good ideas?

2 comments… add one
  • Christine Gallagher March 5, 2009, 2:31 pm

    This a great and also very timely for me. My to-do lists have been extra long lately and while I do implement many of the steps you have mentioned, I still need to work on #4. The time frames are key. When I have defined and held to them in the past I have seen my productivity soar. Then I slack off and don’t use them. Thanks for the reminder.

    Christine Gallagher’s last blog post..Recession Marketing: Communicating Value is Even More Crucial Now

    • Matt Thomas March 6, 2009, 1:06 pm

      Glad to help! Breaking these types of habits can be extremely tough for anyone. That is why it is so important to set a plan and stick to it. Don’t give yourself any room to slack off. Just stay disciplined, and you’ll do fine. Good luck! 🙂

      I used to be a flagrant procrastinator (although admittedly I still do procrastinate with certain things). I found that scheduling things in advance in a to-do list that I follow religiously really helped me get better and finish things well before their due date.

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