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Wading Through A Large Project

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I have been working on my long-term photography project for over three and a half years now, and I am still working on this project and I plan to finish by the end of 2016 — there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel, as they say!  Also, since we have been snowed in the past several days, I have taken advantage of the extra time to work on my project.  Although no project is alike, below are some tips that have helped me keep going on a large and long-term undertaking.  Hopefully, these tips will help you if you are in the midst of working through a large project or if you are considering beginning a large project.

1. Stay Organized: Staying organized is key to getting through any large project.   Without my spreadsheets and lists of everything outstanding to complete, I would literally be lost and I would needlessly waste a lot of time looking up information, etc.  To stay on track, I keep a current updated lists of outstanding tasks in order to have a visual to easily see what is still outstanding.

2. Break Your Project into Sections: It has really helped me to break my project into main parts, which helps me not to feel as overwhelmed, and within those main parts, I have smaller projects/tasks to complete comprising each main part.

3. Set a Work Schedule: I have found it easier to set a work schedule specifically for this project, which helps keep me moving forward.  I set a work schedule, and I do everything possible to protect and guard this time.  Everyone works differently, but I have found setting work hours each week is very helpful to ensure progress is made.

4. Set Target Dates: Due to the nature of my project, I have set general deadlines/target dates.  Sometimes I meet these target dates, and sometime I do not.  However, my main mantra is to keep working each day in order to continue to make progress.  Even minimal and steady progress adds up over time.

5. Back Up Material: When you are working on something for a long duration of time, it is always a smart idea to back up your work.  I back up my work in at least three places to help ensure my work is not lost after spending countless hours creating work.

6. Reviewers: While working on a project for a long period of time, I find that it is helpful to have someone/people you trust to review your work along the way.  I find that it is helpful to receive feedback periodically while working to help improve and/or refine the body of work/idea.

7. Take Breaks: It is helpful to take breaks when needed.  Sometimes there are times where I am too tired or need some time to step away from the work.  These breaks are essential and provide space and help provide perspective once returning to the work.

8. Be Persistent: Even though it is a great undertaking, which takes several years to complete, it is important to keep at it and finish the project.  There are definitely days where I feel burned out and wonder how I will finish, and wonder how it will all come together.  However, no matter what, I always know that I must finish.

9. Be Open: While you are working on a long-term project, the work and direction often changes.  It is therefore important to stay open as these projects take on a life of their own, and this is where the ‘big magic’ happens.

10. Keep the Faith: Having faith is probably the most important component to wading through a long-term project — to work on something for an extended period of time takes faith and trust.  You must have faith to carry you through any large undertaking and you must show up each day and push through and move further than you think that you can go with your work.  At times, this is terrifying, but I have learned to lean into it to get through it and to trust the process…and eventually, the work will be done — the most rewarding part of this process!

“It seems to me that my fear and my creativity are basically conjoined twins — as evidenced by the fact that creativity cannot take a single step forward without fear marching right alongside of it.” –Elizabeth Gilbert

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