How to Get Big Projects Done (When You’ve Got No Time) - Christine Kane

You’ve wanted to write a book forever – but each year goes by and it doesn’t get written.

You promised yourself you’d get rid of all the crap in the basement – and months have passed leaving you grateful you didn’t share your intention with your kids.

You’ve been meaning to set up a merchant account, read that book, start a blog, celebrate your 40th birthday party (six years ago), learn how to knit, practice yoga.

And you keep waiting for that big long sabbatical on a white horse to show up at your door so you can do all of these things you don’t have time to do.

The truth is, even if it did show up, you’d probably panic and spend even more time on Facebook than you do already.

That’s because until we learn how to leverage our small windows of time, we won’t be all that great at using our big imaginary unending sabbaticals.

However, the idea of days upon days of uninterrupted time with no appointments or to-dos has probably served a wonderful purpose for you…

It has become a convenient excuse to not do what you say is your most important dream.

So, you can nod your head and continue to be disappointed in yourself.

Or you can take just FIVE SIMPLE STEPS and start getting your big things done in small windows of time.

Do this:

1. Define your Priorities by Creating a Master List

When you begin ANYTHING, start with definition.

When you don’t define, then you don’t really know what you want to do.

And when you don’t know really what to do, your small windows of time become meaningless. Easy to blow off.

Your first step is to make a list of what it is that you keep telling yourself you want to complete.

Write it all down so you define what’s important to you.  This is your Master List.

3. Pick one thing from your Master List and break it down into small pieces.

Pick one item on that list that feels the most exciting and/or do-able to you. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just choose one.

Ask yourself how to break this item down into small pieces.  What elements could be completed in 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there?  A quick bit of research?  Choosing one limited area of the attic?  Challenging yourself to write the first draft of an article in 30 minutes just for fun?

Write down those action steps.

3. Do it.

Let’s say it’s noon.  You have a lunch appointment at 12:30. That’s a good 25 minutes. You could “hop on line,” go to Facebook, check emails and blow that 25 minutes in a matter of seconds.

Or you can train yourself to notice this small window of time.  Then, set your timer and challenge yourself to make even a tiny little bit of progress on the priority you wrote down.

4. Make it a Habit

Every Sunday, look at your schedule for the week.  Find those spaces where you have 30 minutes to an hour each day. (Yes, you do have them. Take a look.)  Schedule appointments in your calendar. Show up for them. Set your timer.

Again, this seems simple and small. But it’s huge.

After all, you’re asking yourself to shift a well-worn habit. You’re choosing to honor a priority, rather than splatter your attention.  Learn to stay conscious for your small windows – and when you have bigger windows show up, you won’t be as daunted!

5. Set a Deadline

If you really want to get something done, give it a deadline.

Promise your best friend it’ll be on her doorstep by X Date.  Then, write a check to your most despised political cause or party.  Give the check to your friend. Tell her to mail it if you don’t meet your deadline.  (I’m serious about this! I have an accountability buddy out there who has just such a check from me in a drawer somewhere.)


But hey, it doesn’t always take money.

Just now, I challenged myself to write this article in a small window of time.  My day is mostly done.

And I’m putting my theory to the test.

This took me exactly 25 minutes to write.  No, it’s not a book. But it’s a start.

So tell me this in the comments:

If you showed up for your small windows of time, what big amazing wildly cool outcomes could you create?

  • Patrice A Federspiel

    Thanks Christine, I especially appreciate your letting us know how long it took you to write today’s post! Sometimes the pressure of a looming project feels so HEAVY, when really it’s the pressure of putting it off that weighs so much. I love to use the timer on my iPhone to challenge myself to get something done. This works especially well with things I don’t want to do (like clean up the studio). It is amazing what can be done in as little as five minutes. Yesterday a friend challenged me to do some one minute organizing sessions. Truly phenomenal!
    Thanks again, Patrice

    • Christine Kane

      Patrice – Love the idea of one-minute organizing sessions! And yes, I love my iPhone timer too. It’s one of those apps I actually feel AFFECTION for. 🙂 (miss seeing you pal!)

  • Don Downs

    Great advice, and something I coach with my clients. Scheduling time (even small blocks of time) to work on your top priorities is a critical step in moving those priorities forward.

  • Patty

    This is such good advice . My mother taught me at a young age to learn the value of five minutes. This is taking that one step farther. And, I will say, I am ALWAYS amazed at just how much I can get done in five minutes and I always am grateful to my mother for teaching me this! Thank you for all you do, as well. How very blessed we all are.

    • Christine Kane

      Thank you Patty! And I love that your mom taught you that. It’s so true isn’t it?