Projects – Manage Expectations and Find Time


Projects – how are you managing?

As fall unfolds, how many projects do you have on our plate?

And, more to the point, how are you managing them?

Whether you’re in school, a parent, an entrepreneur or a coach, you probably have lots of projects percolating and maybe an equal number coming due. It  can get a little overwhelming, can’t it?

Well, my recent post about project preparation prompted an interesting question from a reader.

Melinda’s Project Challenge

Melinda B. in Chicago wrote:

Dear Paula,

I’m in graduate school for social psychology. This semester I’m just beginning to formulate my thesis and experimental project for my dissertation. My biggest challenge right now is with the interested and well-meaning people around me. They either ask about what I’m doing or ask for specifics about my thesis and methodology, before I’m prepared to answer any of their questions.

This bothers me a lot because the people asking the questions are, for the most part, also faculty and peers that I’d like to have believe in the validity and importance of my project. So I feel pressured to come up with good answers, but I’m really not able to formulate them yet.

What can I do?

Projects and Boundaries – Just Ask Paula

Dear Melinda,

I can certainly hear the challenge and suggest that you:

  • First, assimilate the fact that you have a right to have boundaries and
  • Second, use honesty as the best approach to defining and claiming those boundaries.

Basically, this means responding to questions with calm, grounded statements that honestly reflect your current reality.

Examples of possible responses would be:

  • “I am still exploring my options.”
  • “I don’t want to commit to a specific methodology too early” or
  • “I want to keep an open mind because I’m learning a great deal about the project as I work on it.”

Note that there’s nothing unfriendly or off-putting about what you’re saying. In fact, statements such as these may open the door to more relaxed, exploratory and interesting exchanges than other responses might.

And here’s the flip side of the coin: If you don’t use this approach, it is easy to commit yourself to a direction or methodology that turns out not to be best for your project. Then you have people around you who may be disappointed or confused, because they expect one thing but see another as your project progresses.

Allowing yourself to have boundaries creates the space you need to explore your project and make the best possible choices about how to proceed. And managing expectations with friendly honesty is always a good policy.

I hope you find this helpful.  And for even more time tips — and specific advice about creating and maintaining boundaries — I invite you to sign up for my Finding Time Success Kit.

The Success Kit includes “The Finding Time Boundary Template: 9 Simple, Sequential Steps to Find More Time and Recharge Your Energy!” Using a workbook format this powerful and practical time template helps you progress beyond disappointment and frustration. You also receive weekly Finding Time Tips, and the monthly, award-winning Finding Time E-zine when you click this link to claim your FREE Success Kit!


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