A project creates something.
It may be a new product for your business or new information you want to provide to your customers. It could be a new book you are self-publishing. Or perhaps you are working on a new service offering in your community. It may be a new result for something that you already have in place like renovating your office space to make it more ergonomic.
If you’re not creating something new or changing something, but instead are doing repetitive work, like calculating your employees’ wages and writing their checks, then you most likely do not have a project. You instead have ongoing work.
A project is temporary.
Another way to look at it is that a project has a start date and an end date. You can think of it as being “temporary”, even though it may seem like it lasts forever. You reach the end of the project once you have met the vision or goal of the project. And that’s another characteristic of a project…
A project has a goal.
An example of something that may seem like a project, but really isn’t is marketing your creative business. While there is a goal of getting your business known, marketing never ends, especially if you are creating new products and services. You have to continue that ongoing effort of getting the word out about your business.
However, within the ongoing activities of marketing, you may have specific marketing projects that you work on. One of those projects could be to build a website for your business. The project will create something new (your website). You will have a start date for when you start building the website and you will have an end date for when the website is complete and ready to launch. Of course, you will update your site regularly and if you have opted for a blog on your site, you might update it daily or weekly. That is when it becomes an ongoing task because you don’t build a website for your business on an ongoing basis. You performed a unique set of tasks to create your website. Once that project is complete, you transition to a regularly scheduled business activity.