Three Questions to Ask to Get a Project Unstuck

by Joe Rando Joe Rando | Dec 15, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Whether you’re in grade school or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, we’ve all experienced those dreaded, never-ending projects.

You know what I’m talking about. It’s the project that drags on, and on, and on. Meetings seem to come and go without any progress. Emails stay in inboxes for days, or even weeks. Follow-ups seem to become a project of their own.

Regardless of whether it's a complex project, or one that is simple, it can be an extremely frustrating situation and total waste of time.

The good news is, these “stuck” projects can be things of the past. While it may seem as though they are unavoidable, there’s actually a straightforward process to get them unstuck.

Whenever a project presents itself, ask yourself the three simple questions below. If you can do that, and get solid answers, progress will happen like magic.

1. What is our goal and has it changed?

You’d think a clear goal would be established at the beginning of any project, but as most of you know, that isn’t always the case.

You must identify the goals that need to be achieved to determine if the project is successful or not. It’s helpful to make them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) goals, or you can use another method if you’d prefer. By setting them up in this manner, you'll be able to be as concrete as you can in defining the goals, and you’ll have a standard to measure your outcome against. 

Sometimes, when a project is stuck, it’s because the original goals are no longer relevant. If that’s the case, it’s time to reassess the goals or perhaps even discontinue the project. 

2. What is the next thing we need to do to move toward that goal?

If your goals are relevant but the project is stuck, it’s typically because the next action that needs to happen to move it forward hasn’t been put into motion. This can be for one of a few reasons:

  1. You haven’t correctly identified what you need to do next, or;
  2. You know what you need to do but no one is doing it:
    1. Either no one has been assigned responsibility for the next action required, or; 
    2. The person responsible is not doing their job.

Which brings me to the next question...

3. Who should do it?

If you know what needs to happen next, then you need to put someone in charge of getting it done. Not a group of people - one person who will be held accountable for the result. Every task needs a single person to be responsible for its successful completion.

When selecting the person to get the task done, get a good understanding of what each person’s schedule looks like (including your own). Even if they’re totally qualified for the role, you could hit delays if they don’t have the adequate time to allocate to your project.

By answering these questions every time a new project presents itself, even the most stuck projects can become unstuck. Either that, or in answering them you’ll realize the project isn’t necessary and you can remove it from your must-get-done list. This will also help you free up time for the projects that are necessary.

It’s helpful to formalize these answers in a shared system where you can view the goals, all of the steps that need to be taken, and the individuals who need to be involved, all in one place. This could theoretically be a Google Doc or Excel file, but we’d recommend using an app, like LifeStarr, to help automate the organization that is involved.

The app is made for this kind of thought process and can assist in freeing up more time in your life (plus, it doesn’t cost you a penny to use!).

Say goodbye to those never-ending projects and join LifeStarr today. You’ll be glad you did.

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