Have you ever felt under tremendous pressure to get a project done? Of course you have. We all have!
The project your boss gave you that must be finished before the weekend. The car that needs fixing right before the long trip, while your brother needs you to finish a different project before you leave out of town.
Needing to fix the heat-pump before winter… oh wait, the forecast calls for 22 degree temperatures – in the next two days. Ugh!
You know what I’m talking about.
Like, getting the clothes washed for your kids before school on Monday. The problem is… today is Sunday night and you forgot all about it.
Meanwhile, your baby needs to be fed, dinner fixed, and the boys are outside playing – getting dirty and need to be bathed or at least hands washed before dinner.
You’re pulling your hair.
Blood pressure increases and there isn’t enough time or money to get all this done.
Now here’s the thing - there is a way to get all done on time.
Sure, that’s what the professionals on time management tells us. Of course, many of them pay for people to get things done for them.
What do they know about feeling under the gun?
At least, that’s how we feel, don’t we?
I remember the time when my wife and I were building our house. I was trying to get all the interior walls done within a certain time frame. The problem was, I didn’t have any time frame.
We were renting while building our log home, and were down to three weeks before everything was finished for us to be able to move in.
We were really under the gun - seriously.
And you know what? I didn’t have ANY walls done yet, except half of a wall in the great room. Most of our house is made out of ¾ inch pine tongue-n-groove inside.
I recall sitting in the middle of the great room trying to eat my pbj sandwich (that’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich – as if you didn’t know), looking straight up at the ceiling, then at the wall I was working on, with tremendous amount of stress.
I could hardly eat my dinner because I was so stressed out.
I decided to pray.
Here’s how my prayer went: “God, I don’t know how this is going to happen. I don’t have enough time to finish this house. I need to move out in three weeks and I don’t even have these walls done.
Then the polyurethane, then the windows, the carpeting and doors. How am I going to do all this?”
At that point, I heard the Lord whisper a word in my heart. No, not audibly, but it might as well be.
Here’s what he said: “one board at a time.”
“One board at a time?” I yelled, shockingly.
I stared at the wall, and a peace came over me and then I said: “ok, one board at a time it is.”
For the next two weeks I came to our naked walls house, after regular working hours to work at it.
It was crazy! But… every day I came to work at our house to install One Board AT A Time.
That’s it! As soon as I nailed a board, I smiled.
The amazing thing was, my stress level diminished, my blood pressure normalized, and I was enjoying nailing one more board.
The best part was (according to my wife) I was easier to get along with – but that’s another story.
Within three weeks, I finished everything, with enough in the house to move into it. Done!
But, that’s not the whole story – as you can imagine.
So, I want to give you the steps I took to finish my project “one board at a time.”
7 Progressive Levels To Complete A Project that relates to everything we do.
(You can continue reading if you don't want to watch the slides).
1. Listen and Yield.
I listen to God’s instructions and I wanted to obey, I just didn’t know how I would follow through.
It was hard at first, but then it got better.
The main thing, in this step is to develop a ready- heart to obey and roll with God’s best instead of yours.
2. Rely on grace.
I needed God’s grace to help me through this time. It wasn’t easy at first. In fact, after a day working, I picked up on the idea of “one board at a time.”
The days following, I was good to go; it was smooth sailing and authentically genuine in my approach and finish product.
Towards the end, after the walls were covered, the pressure begun and I kept doing other things to help me keep my cool, which leads me to my next step.
3. Remember the vision.
The vision was to finish the house one board at a time instead of trying to finish the whole thing at once.
Let me give it to you this way: Stop trying to finish your projects before having a full plan of action while relying on God’s grace.
You finished the project once already – in your head. Now take one step at a time and work with a rhythm of peace and determination. You’ll get it done.
4. Write the vision down.
Habakkuk 2:2-3 says this: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”
One of the wisest things to do before you start a project is to write it down. This way, you keep your purpose of why you're doing what you're doing.
Kind of like a blueprint on a house. You first see it in your mind, you design it, you create a blue print (which is your finished product on paper) and then you go back to the beginning and start building the house, “one board at a time.”
Design every project in a similar fashion. Have a familiar time frame as to how long is going to take you, jot down some notes (kind of like a “to do” list) and go with it.
Don’t think of the finish product while working; just keep your focus on the one board you’re putting up today.
One thing we did, almost religiously, was celebrate every time we finished something major.
For example, every time we finished a room or put up doors, or installed the windows, we’d go out to eat to a nice place, just to celebrate. Or we’d take the kids out for ice-cream – that as always a blast.
The idea was to compensate the kids with fun, and our lives with a deep breath of relaxation that another board was installed, sort-to-speak.Eating fast food most days (because we had no time to cook regular meals gets old after a while)
Whenever you finish a major part of your project – of that written vision – go and celebrate. Don’t need to be flamboyant, just a simple ice-cream or a movie or something will do.
6. Be consistent.
Don’t let other things distract you from your goal. There were times when I thought I’d work on another part of the house. I needed to be done anyhow.
Or somebody else offered me a house to paint (which was also my business). I had to turn extra stuff off in order to keep my concentration consistent. Otherwise, it would have turned out to be six weeks instead of three to finish my house.So stay consistent and focused.
7. Be patient.
Patience is a virtue – at least that’s what I’ve heard all my life. No really – be patient.
Working in a hurry to get the job done just causes more stress and less quality of workmanship. (oh, you can tweet that too)
Patience helps create an attitude and an enjoyable environment that will help you and those around you work diligently but not in a hurry.
I have stained log homes that some Amish friends built. One thing I learned from these Amish folks was that they would not stop to talk to you.
Every time I came by to strike a conversation with them, they would be cordial and sometimes fun to talk to but they’d keep working.
Their work ethics were strong and stopping to chat during work hours was not an option.
By the same token, these guys would never work in a hurry. Nothing they ever did was rushed. They were very calm but consistent with a great dose of patience. They often got more work done in a day than I’d seen on a stressed out crew in two days.
Getting your work done completely and effectively does not have to be a stressful endeavor; it could be a very pleasant and enjoyable time of operation.
If you’re doing something that’s always stressful and perhaps with the thought in mind that “time is money, and money is time,” then maybe, just maybe, you might be in the wrong job or doing the wrong project.
I know there are schedules to meet and deadlines to consider, but if that’s the way we live most of the time we’ll never enjoy the things we love, instead, we’ll constantly fight the time factor, while developing a hateful relationship with our projects.
Question: What other levels have you built to process the completion of a project?