How to choose your next project.

I want to share something with you.

[me] Hi. My name is Linda, and I’m a procrastinator.

[you] Hi Linda.

My favorite way to procrastinate is through planning and analyzing. I’m exceptionally skilled at creating complex spreadsheets. 

In my prior role, my ability to master complex spreadsheets was legendary. My ability to develop prioritization criteria and sophisticated project portfolio management tools was my superpower.

As a one-person business, that strength can quickly become a distraction.

That’s not the important thing I wanted to share with you, however. What I want to share is one of my procrastination busting tools.

As a one-person business, indie professional, freelancer, or personal project superstar, you need only one tool: The Simple Sort.

Your business grows by doing one project after another. If you want to succeed, you need to be great first at selecting then defining, planning, and executing projects.

Here’s how to choose your next project.

If you want to have more confidence in selecting which project you need to do next, you’ll need one, maybe two things.

1. Project List

First, you need your list of potential projects. If you don’t already have a list written down, do it. Brainstorm every possible project that comes to mind. Get it all down. Just because it’s on the list, doesn’t mean you have to do it. It’s just a great way to free your brain for more important things – like decision making.

I may be cheating a little. I know I said you need only one tool, and that’s true if your list in this first step is already short. Otherwise, you need to whittle it down using the ‘hell yes or no’ filter.

2. HELL YES List.

Taken from the book Essentialism, this is a gut-check for your projects. To get a shortlist, go through your long list and ask your self for each item: is this a HELL YES? If so, circle it. If not, it’s automatically a no.

The HELL YES or NO criteria highlights your core values. Use this invaluable tool for anything that demands a commitment of time or energy from you. 

The Simple Sort

With your shorter list of potential projects identified, place each project one-by-one on the Simple-Sort graph. Two dimensions determine your placement:

x. Implementation difficulty. Along the X-axis is the level of complexity to implement the project from easy to difficult. How you decide this may be based upon your knowledge of the subject, dependency on others, resources needed, or the complexity of the project itself (rocket science and brain surgery anyone?)

y. Expected Impact. How much positive impact will completing this project have on your core values, mission, vision, and strategic goals? Some projects, if completed, will have a positive effect on multiple areas and would then rate higher in impact than others.

4 Weeks & DONE Project Planner (amazon affiliate link) (Amazon affiliate link)

Quadrant I represents projects that are easy to implement and have high impact. 

Quadrant II projects also have high impact but are more challenging to implement.

Quadrant III hold low impact and easy to implement projects.

Quadrant IV projects are of low impact and more difficult.

Depending upon your other commitments, your energy, and other constraints, you may choose a project from any of these quadrants. There is no right or wrong answer.

To help with your decision, remember to identify the right project at the right time for the right reason. What is ‘right’ can only be defined by you. Use your values, your vision and mission, and your strategic goals to help guide you.

That’s it! 

I’ve successfully used this sort for my own business and with clients doing one-person projects. 

It’s also the tool we use in the One-Person Project Success Program – also known as 4Weeks & DONE!

If you’re interested, check out the workshop list here.