You have projects that are all-consuming—they are both important and complicated. You spend time and energy on them for months, thinking about little else. And then, you finish. And it’s great. You have time to relax, catch up on tasks placed on your back burner, and . . . then what? What’s next?
In the post on productive transitions, we discussed how to make the transition between projects smooth so you can stay productive. But what if you don’t have a next project? If your project was big enough, you’ll probably complete it without another big project on the horizon. To select your next project, try using these techniques.
Just because you don’t have another big project doesn’t mean you need to get one right now. Give yourself the time you need to get creative. You want this next project to be as good as the last one was.
To brainstorm, you can use a number of methods—just find one that works for you. Some people use mind maps. Others just write down every idea that pops into your head: it is said that to reach the most creative recesses of your mind, you have to continue to write down all your ideas—even if they’re dumb—so you can get a good flow. You can use technology to help you brainstorm. Whatever works for you.
Review the project you just completed—how did it go? What will you do differently next time? Write it down. Even if you don’t read what you wrote again, writing it will help you acknowledge your mistakes while planning to implement improvements on future projects.
Now is the time to plan for the future. Keep a list of realistic project ideas ready so that the next time you find yourself in this situation, you’ll have a better idea of what to take on next. Take the best ideas from your brainstorming session and sketch them out. Outline what you would need to work on this project.
When you’re ready, begin your project. While it takes time to select your next great idea, don’t dawdle when it’s time to get started on it. You want to keep up your momentum from your last project, so don’t let yourself get distracted or procrastinate.