Projects vs. Tasks

Projects vs. TasksAh… the dreaded “to do” list. It relentlessly hangs over us; we finish one task and 3 more sprout up in its place. Nonetheless, everyone benefits from having a system for capturing, scheduling, and executing tasks. So how do you ensure that your list is working for you instead of against you? It boils down to understanding the difference between projects and tasks, and knowing how to manage them.

Projects Are…

  • Large in scope
  • Long term in nature
  • Complex (multiple steps)
  • Frequently communal (involving other people)
  • “Big Picture”

Tasks Are…

  • Specific
  • Short term in nature
  • Well defined
  • Discrete (one at a time)
  • Individualized (require action by a specific person)

Let’s look at a few examples to get a clearer understanding of the difference.

Paint the Spare Room Get paint samples
Select a color
Schedule a time to paint
Clear the room of clutter
Gather supplies (roller, brushes, tape, tarps, etc.)
Prepare the room (remove/cover furniture)
Prep painting surfaces (tape, sand)
Paint first coat
Paint second coat (if applicable)
Clean up and store supplies
Return room to order
Get a website Research other sites
Identify desired site elements
Set a budget
Research platform alternatives (hire help, if needed)
Research hosting alternatives (hire help, if needed)
Decide “build v. buy”
Select site name
Secure domain name
If buying, research website designers
Meet with designer (live or virtually, multiple visits)
Create/hire content (multiple elements)
Create/hire artwork
Build site
Launch site
Clear off desk Hire The Seana Method 😉


Follow the steps outlined here

Make a will Discuss with spouse/family members
Decide on distribution of belongings (one room at a time)
Decide and secure custody plans if minors are involved (call relatives, get permission…)
Decide on a budget
Research and select a will-preparation approach (website such as legalzoom vs. lawyer)
Schedule time work to with the lawyer/website
Print/obtain printed version of will
Place will in a secure storage location (e.g. fire safe box)
*for sample purposes only, not intended to be instructional 

Are you getting the idea? Projects require many smaller steps to achieve completion. If we simply put a large, intimidating project onto a daily “to do” list, we are likely to procrastinate taking action because there are no clearly defined steps.

Instead, keep your list of projects in a separate place from your daily list of tasks. Then, look at your master list of projects and identify the first/next step to put on your “to do” list that will move you one step closer to your goal.

Always remember to schedule your “to do” list items. By this I mean look at your calendar and decide which task you are going to assign to which day. I suggest clients keep a dated book so they can flip ahead and schedule a task in the future (e.g. when you need to call back a week from Friday.) If you don’t accomplish a task on a given day (hey, life happens...) then simply re-assign it to another day.

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Have you been berating yourself for never getting around to a project you’ve been wanting to complete? Frustrated by a lack of progress? The best way to conquer this foe is by breaking the project down into minuscule tasks that feel less intimidating and doable. By making progress on a small task, you will build the confidence you need to keep moving forward until the task is finished.

What techniques have you found helpful in tackling large projects?