What is a Project? (Part 1)

To get started, let’s discuss what a project is and what it is not. There are a few characteristics that a project has that will let you know if you indeed have a true project.

Understanding what a project is, allows you to better plan for its completion.  If you have ever thought “this project will never end” or “will I ever get this done?”  it’s possible that you might not be working on a project.  You have tasks that you can never seem to complete and just when you think you’ve finished, more tasks pop up. Or you find that you have to start from the very beginning.  Cleaning your house is an example. You dust. You vacuum. A few days later, you have more dust, possibly even more than before!  You wash dishes, but after the next meal, you have another sink full of dishes waiting to be cleaned.  You do all of the laundry, but a week later it’s piled up again (sometimes you may go shopping just to avoid doing another load).

These types of tasks are reoccurring or ongoing. They feel like projects because you can expend a lot of energy to the energy to complete them. But the reality is regardless of how thorough or efficiently you complete these tasks, you will have to do them again.

Contrast that with something like “Spring cleaning.”  You plan what needs to be done when Spring rolls around. Perhaps you plan to clean out all of your closets and make donations. Or you plan to organize your basement or garage. Or maybe you plan to clean all of your draperies and carpets.  For spring cleaning you will often have specific tasks that you want to do and you plan to have it completed by “Spring” (whatever that means to you).  When those specific cleaning activities are done, you live happily ever after (or maybe just for another year until Spring comes around again).

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