One of the (many) stresses we face in life is feeling overwhelmed with daunting projects that we have not yet started on. A youth pastor once gave me an interesting strategy that he applied when he was in school: whenever he received an assignment, he immediately (that night) began to work on it and did not rest until he felt that he had brought that project up to a B.
Incredible! Imagine what it would feel like if whenever you took a break or felt tired or lazy, you knew you could turn in all your projects just the way they were, and get a 80% on them all!
Now, this may sound daunting, but remember that the first 80% of many projects can be achieved with only 20% of the effort. Additionally, once you get that project up to a B, your subconscious starts driving you to finish the task that you’ve started. These are the two effects I discussed in the previous posts on Pareto’s Principle and the Zeigarnik Effect.
I once shared this strategy to one of my friends, and he really loved it. In fact, he loved it so much that he coined a name for it, “Floating Your Projects.”
Floating Your Projects
By the way, thanks goes to Jennifer Wheeler for the photo.
In GPAs, there’s the concept of a C-level. Anything above this is passing, and anything below this is failing, at least in order for courses to count towards your major requirements at most institutions. If you’re trying to get your projects to a B, then you’re trying to get your projects above the C-level, or the ‘sea level’. This is where the pun “float your projects” comes from.
If you can get your projects to float as fast as possible when you get them, then you have plenty of time to ask for help on the challenging bits that you have to perfect to bring your project from B to A. Often times, these hard parts can’t be thrown in haphazardly the night before its due, and thus adopting this strategy of allowing lots of time to finish the final 20% of a project is one of the only ways to superb jobs on tough projects.
It also sets you up to look and feel really great. If you’re a student and you’ve already started all the homework, you tend to ask more insightful questions in class, catch more hints, understand big pictures behind lectures, and get more out of office hours if you attend them. You also appear to be on-top of things to all of your classmates, workmates, and friends.
There aren’t a lot of apps that let you track how far you need to go to get to a ‘B’ level, but one analog practice that could easily track this is to carry a small journal around, and list out the different projects that you’re working on, and put a small progress bar beside each one. As you complete portions of your project, fill in your progress bar. If you stack all of your progress bars on the same page, you can even draw a dotted-line vertically through each of the progress bars at the 80% line.
So if you feel like you’re drowning in work, why not try to get your head above water by floating your projects?