There are likely a lot of tasks and projects you manage for your business that are recurring, like maintaining your blog, building a presence on social media, and connecting with your audience (whether that be via an online community, email or otherwise).
These recurring tasks and projects are easy to identify because they’re the types of things you do in your business all the time and that you’ve hopefully created some type of system around, or at the very least, things you already have a plan for.
One-time tasks and projects
But because you’re an entrepreneur steering your own ship, there are always going to be those great ideas or new partnerships and opportunities that require you to manage one-time tasks and projects, in addition to all the other things you have going on.
These one-time tasks and projects can really throw a wrench in things for several reasons, including:
- This is your first time doing it, so you don’t know what to actually do;
- You have a lot of recurring projects you’re working on, so finding the time will really be a challenge; or…
- You’re not sure what to actually do, and therefore, you’re also not sure who needs to be involved.
For these reasons and so many more, one-time projects can easily become a source of overwhelm and fear for entrepreneurs, and as a result, they become a lot more difficult to execute.
The great news is, you can put a series of steps together just like you do for your recurring tasks and projects that will help you successfully create a plan for your one-time projects – regardless of whether you’ve done it before or not.
And once you have a plan in place, execution becomes a whole lot easier.
The planning process
I’m going to share with you the plan I use, along with the specific tools I leverage, for putting a plan in place for my one-time tasks and projects.
The first 3 steps below really cover what comes before the plan, just so we’re on the same page.
Step 1: Planning
I have what I like to call “the planning board”.
It’s an actual, tangible board where I keep track of my one-time tasks and projects and also my progress on each of them.
If you practice SCRUM, then you know the type of planning board I’m talking about.
I usually reserve my planning board for tasks that I know will take me more than a day or two of dedicated time to accomplish, and it has been so helpful for me because it gives me visual documentation of what I need to prepare for plus the progress I’m making.
Step 2: Priority
Once you have all of your one-time tasks and projects on your board, it’s important to arrange them by priority.
By giving your one-time tasks and projects an order of priority, you’ll save yourself from later having to make this determination. Going to your board and immediately knowing which you’ll work on next will save you a lot of time in the future.
Step 3: Selection
This step is super simple: you’re just selecting your top priority one-time task or project so we can start creating an actual plan for execution.
And now, we get into creating a plan for one-time tasks and projects…
Step 4: Brainstorming
In addition to my planning board, I also have another board that’s for brainstorming, and this is where I go to actually draw out the plan I’ll use for each of the one-time tasks and projects I want to accomplish.
While my actual planning board is tangible, my brainstorming board changes from time to time; sometimes it’s a Google doc or spreadsheet, other times it’s a piece of paper or maybe something like Asana, and sometimes it’s a combination of a couple of these things.
Brainstorming is the first and most important step for creating a plan for your one-time tasks and projects because this is the foundation.
Once you choose the tool you’ll use for your brainstorming session (Google doc, piece of paper, or some type of online software), it’s time to write out the steps you already know you need to take in order to accomplish your one-time task or project.
During your brainstorming session you might also write out the resources and potential team members you’ll need to help.
Basically, anything goes during your brainstorming session: alternative ideas, different ways of accomplishing a certain step, questions that have come up about how to accomplish something, tools that could potentially help, etc.
Step 5: Research
Now that you’ve gotten all your ideas out on paper and you have notes and questions and the steps you know you need to take in order to accomplish your one-time task or project, it’s time to do some research.
What questions came up for you during your brainstorming, and how can you get answers to those questions?
- Google search
- Asking a peer or friend who has experience in that area
- Going to your online community to request feedback / support
You don’t have to find answers to every single last question you came up with; don’t let what you don’t know hold you back from finding out through taking action.
At the same time, this can be a time-intensive step; don’t cheat yourself. Be resourceful and gather as much information as possible so you can put together the best plan possible.
It will be very important to practice discipline during your research. This is primetime to get sidetracked, see something on the Internet that looks interesting and get distracted, or remember that you were supposed to do this one thing that’s really important…
Stick to the task at hand: research for your one-time task or project.
Step 6: Steps = the plan
You’ve done an amazing job of preparing by the time you get to this step, which is going to be so incredibly helpful when it comes to actually putting your plan together.
You’ve selected your one-time task or project, you’ve brainstormed how you’re going to accomplish it by writing out the steps you know you need to take, you’ve done your research to answer any questions you may have had, and now it’s time to put it all together.
Putting your plan together
My tool of choice for creating my plans is Asana, which allows you to create super simple tasks, in addition to complex, multi-step project plans.
But you could also simply take out a piece of paper and start writing your plan out, with the most important piece being: your next most important step.
Your plan starts with the steps you know you need to take in order to accomplish your one-time task or project. This is the difference between actionable steps (your plan) and the results (your outcome).
Here are a few one-time task or project examples and the first one or two steps that need to be accomplished to get your project started:
- If you want to launch your website, what are the things that need to happen in order for that outcome to be a reality?
First step: Figure out what platform you’re going to use
Second step: Create a wireframe or outline for your site layout
- If you want to create an evergreen webinar, what are the things that need to happen in order for that outcome to be a reality?
First step: Figure out what your webinar will be about
Second step: Create your webinar outline and slides
Third step: Practice your presentation
- If you want to create an email opt in giveaway, what are the things that need to happen in order for that outcome to be a reality?
First step: Confirm whatever the giveaway is is something your audience sees value in
Second step: Determine the format of the giveaway
Third step: Create the actual content and lay it out
Even if you’re only able to write out the first and second step of your plan, that’s okay – at least you have an action item to help get you started.
Setting boundaries and holding yourself accountable
Another very important part of your plan is boundaries.
If you just have a list of X number of steps, but no timeline or deadline for when you’ll accomplish your one-time task or project, then how are you ever going to hold yourself accountable to doing what you’ve said you’ll do?
Once you have your plan together, make sure you put it up against a timeline, with an ultimate deadline for completion so you can check your progress and stay on track.
Step 7: Execute
Once you have your plan in place, it’s time to execute.
The most effective format for this is setting aside a specific amount of Focus Time where you can begin to make progress on your one-time task or project.
Take the first step you’ve written out, set a timer for the amount of Focus Time you’ve chosen (for example, 30 minutes), and begin.
FOCUS on that single step of your plan until your time is up; then, take a break (for example, 10 minutes).
Once your break, or Refresh Time, is up, get right back into it. Move to your second step, set a timer for the amount of Focus Time you’ve chosen, and begin.
Based on the Pomodoro Technique, this is the exact format we laid out in The Mastery Journal so that you can crush productivity, discipline and focus every single day.
Each day of The Mastery Journal has four sessions for you to fill in, and having that accountability in your daily routine is what will help you take your business and life to the next level.
Remaining distraction-free in the process
Once you begin execution, you’ll have powerful momentum that will help you continue to crush your one-time task or project!
But of course, we will always face distractions in the process.
Knowing exactly what’s standing between you and your biggest goals is important, because only then can you start to find solutions.