Momentum is a very powerful thing. In physics, momentum = mass x velocity. The cool thing about momentum is that the faster an object is moving, the harder it is to stop. This is also true for any project that you are working on. Accomplishing project tasks (gaining ‘mass’) in a quick and efficient manner (gaining ‘velocity’) can create momentum for your project that can bear through the toughest problems and bring your project to completion.
Consider this: just one brick can stop a train from beginning its journey down the tracks. But once a train has gained momentum, it can crash through an entire brick wall. The same is true for projects that you work on in life. Momentum is key, and here is how you can achieve it.
Remove the bricks
What is stopping you from getting started on your lingering project? We’ve all heard the saying that “the hardest part is getting started”, but why is that? Fear is one of the most common ‘bricks’ that needs to be dealt with in order to get your project in motion. This can be fear of failure, fear of incompetence, fear of the unknown, or even fear of success.
This is a tricky obstacle to remove because fear can hide in so many shapes, and we tend to make excuses for our fear. We say: “I’m too busy to get started, that is why I haven’t.” Or: “I don’t have the appropriate resources to start.” To overcome this obstacle you need to stop making excuses, face your fear, and start moving.
Once you have removed the bricks are ready to get moving, it is time to build the mass of your project in terms of resources and plans. In the beginning this includes a project charter, project agreement, and obtaining buy-in from the key stakeholders in your project. When building mass, you are bringing the concept of the project to life and giving substance and direction to your project.
Parkinson’s law states that: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” This means the more time you give yourself, the slower your train will move. Speed things up by creating a sense of urgency for your project tasks, and practise setting fast-paced goals that keep everyone on your project team on-the-move while remaining accountable.
One way to do this is to timebox. Timeboxing is a practice used in Agile where you set a small chunk of time aside (1-2 hours) and focus completely at the task at hand without any distractions. While this might seem counterintuitive to the multitasking masters out there, this has been proven time and time again to be the most efficient way to work through project tasks. By using timeboxing, your team can gain velocity in achieving your project’s goals.
Stay the course
While mass and velocity are important, if you don’t know where you are going you could be moving in the wrong direction, fast! Throughout your project you need to stop and see: is your project headed in the direction you anticipated? Is the momentum you are achieving bringing you closer to your goals, or further away? While trains have the luxury of running on autopilot and can stay on real tracks, you need to pull your head up out of the day-to-day project tasks to make sure that you are not veering off course.
Toot your horn
Trains have horns to communicate to those around them: ‘Danger! Stay away, we can’t stop and we are coming closer!’ In your project team, make sure you toot your horn at the first sign of trouble. Instead of avoiding or hiding problems, run to them and make them known so they can be fixed fast.
You have the ability to gain momentum and create an unstoppable force with whatever projects you tackle: you just need to get started. When you are able to reach a high level of momentum quickly and consistently with your projects, you will find yourself on the gravy train to success.
Co-authored by Kristen Medina