How To Get Through The Middle Stages Of A Project

Starting a new project is usually filled with excitement and a sense of what could be possible. For entrepreneurs and business owners, doing something new is one of the things that is most appealing about being in business.

The same also applies to completing a project. The reward for the effort, time and energy invested in a project can be a great motivator to get the project finished.

There is another stage all projects must get through and that is the middle stage. This stage can be long, unappealing, repetitive and even uninspiring at times. The harsh reality is most projects struggle and even come to an end at this stage. The middle stage is where most of the important activities take place and is the most difficult to get through.

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For most entrepreneurs and business owners, the desire for another new shiny object, in other words, the desire to start a new project is more appealing than the desire to complete the current project. As a result, there are many unfinished projects that can drag on for weeks, months, if not, years.

I’ve had many projects, especially book projects, drag on for months, which resulted in me feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and feeling like I was not making progress. To overcome this, there have been some specific steps I’ve taken to ensure that I get through the middle stages of a project.

Here are five steps you can take to overcome the dreaded middle stages of a project, work through any internal resistance and see the project all the way to the end.

  1. Review regularly. Constantly be checking in on what’s working, what’s not working, how can you do more of what’s working, and how can you get what’s not working to work. A project management technique is to add toll gates or review points at different stages of a project. That will ensure that any risks are identified and mitigated before they become major problems.
  2. Reconnect to the project objectives. There has to be a reason why a project is initiated and oftentimes, in the busyness of working on a project, the project objectives may be forgotten. Therefore reconnecting to the project objectives and the benefits of the project is something that is vital for maintaining momentum.
  3. Remove any unnecessary tasks. One of the advantages of regular reviews is that tasks that need to be done next will be identified. It will also identify what’s not necessary thus providing the opportunity to either reduce or remove tasks.
  4. Reconsider the overall strategy. Sometimes when a project drags on for a long time, things may have changed in your business or even in your marketplace. That could mean that the current project may not be aligned with the overall business strategy which could result in a total project overhaul. Having the big picture strategy as the guide will ensure the project is getting done for the right reasons.
  5. Resist new projects. All too often the desire to start a new project can be very tempting. This is where being able to say no to new projects is going to be really helpful. One technique is to make a public declaration for when you intend to complete your current project and have a consequence associated with it if you don’t complete the project on time. Being accountable to someone else can be a very powerful way to avoid distractions, focus on the current project and stay on track with the project deadlines.

Almost all projects goes through up and downs. Being able to manage the middle, messy stages of a project will maintain momentum and interest after the initial excitement has faded away. The steps described above will ensure that your projects get through to completion and bring you the rewards that you deserve.

Question: What is another way to get through the middle stages of a project?

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  • Jane Ransom

    Oh so true–the dreaded middle stage! Great strategies, Neel.

    • Neel Raman

      Thanks Jane! I have found that by reducing the number of projects I take on, I can actually get more of them completed.

  • Sean Smith

    #5 is the biggest one for me to work on. It’s easy to get excited about something new and/or bored with the current project. Good stuff, Neel.

    • Neel Raman

      #5 is one I also have to work on Sean! There is so much great content/teaching available now which triggers new ideas for projects so I have to be really strategies about which ones I choose to do. Appreciate your comment!