Recently my client Jane started her coaching session with the statement, “I really want to work on finding some strategies to help me stay focused on a project even when I’m in the middle of a crisis.”

This is a common challenge for my clients. Most of them are super busy and as soon as something unexpected comes up, their day gets thrown in disarray – and the “important tasks” (such as projects) get pushed aside for the “urgent needs.” (I’ve created a great tool for you to help manage this process – my Project Worksheet. Download yours here!)

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I asked Jane what she was doing currently to stay focused and she mentioned a couple of tactics.

  • Creating a big picture plan with benchmarks (and all stakeholders have a copy)
  • Holding weekly meetings with the key players to check in on progress (the meetings are regularly attended by all involved, and each person is moving forward on their action items)
  • Dedicating time each week to work uninterrupted on her own action items (though she may not hold the “original” appointment with herself, she does “fit it in” sometime during the week)
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All great tactics! In fact, it seemed to me that she IS staying focused on her project!

AND . . . upon asking her to share what she felt was lacking . . . Jane agreed! She IS moving the project forward even in the midst of a crisis. She just didn’t realize it!

At this point, our coaching session took a turn.

Now the question became, “How do I recognize when I am – and am not – making progress?”

Jane’s solution was to set even more benchmarks. It’s easy to lose sight of progress when you are working on a project that is BIG (either in scope or in time). You can get focused on the end goal and not recognize OR celebrate the progress that is being made. Being able to easily compare the starting point with the current reality is key. You may be A LONG way from the finished project – however, you may also be A LONG way from the beginning!

Celebrating success is a key factor in keeping your momentum up. The bigger the project, the more important it is to keep your momentum strong!

Another advantage of having smaller benchmarks is you can quickly see when you are off track, or the project has stalled, allowing you the opportunity to make adjustments.

As you know I’ve talked before about defining your vision of success – and that is not just for the “big picture” result. Also define a benchmark for each step along the way to that master goal.

What tricks have you learned along the way? Share below – your idea might help someone else!

And don’t forget to download your very own SystemSavvy Consulting Project Worksheet to help you manage the big picture AND the steps along the way!

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(pathway image credit Pakorn)