8 Tips to Warm Up a Cold Project

January 2019

Image: iStock

Most of us juggle multiple projects or manage many people in a days work. As a result, some projects fall by the wayside to make more room to complete others. Priorities may be based on deadlines or impact. Eventually, though, older must-do projects move back to the forefront.

How, though, do you muster the enthusiasm, energy and effort to awaken dormant ideas and turn cold notes into hot copy or imagery? I should politely nod at the consummate procrastinators of the world, who postpone such projects regularly. Instead, Ill suggest whats worked for me when Im in both time and creative binds.

Talk it out

Interview or re-interview people to reinvigorate your creative side—and refresh notes that may no longer be as relevant. If you recorded a conversation, re-listen to it in its entirety to jog a memory or a mental note that unleashes the creative in you. It also sometimes helps just talking to someone about the project to regain that excitement.

Dig a little deeper

Blow off the dust on all of the research youve gathered and then go online to see whats happened since then. The hunt alone should shake off some of the mental cobwebs.

Take a walk

Many people need movement to think, at least to think differently about a problem or a project. Get some fresh air and allow ideas to gestate. I prefer hiking, but a 20-minute walk will do too, especially if its sunny and you manage to get your daily dose of vitamin D along the way.

Work elsewhere

Often a project is continually put off because of other pressingmatters. If these truly are more important, it may be time to hand off the project. Otherwise, distance yourself from the distractions. Go where its quiet or where its lively (if noise is your muse) and get to work. You might come back with sub-par work, but its much easier to revise or replace copy than start with a blank slate.

Start with a clean work space

Youve been sifting through piles of work for weeks or months. The best way to resurrect a project is to push everything else out of site—literally. That includes overly busy desktop, laptop or tablet screens begging for your attention. Better yet, complete those other tasks first, so you open a screen already feeling accomplished and fresh.

Break it down

This is standard project management advise that we all know yet somehow forget to follow. One reason people procrastinate is because a project gets too big to contemplate, let alone complete. If you break it into phases or sections, and apply reasonable deadlines for each part, you wont feel as overwhelmed. Hint: Project management software really helps here too. We Tigers use Wrike for Marketers but Im also a fan of Asana, which I use for a client with many, many marketing projects.

Ask for more time

I recently was handed a project that had begun with another, overworked marketing executive last spring. I had high hopes of turning it around quickly, but that didnt happen for a variety of reasons, namely a string of personal losses in quick succession that consumed me for weeks. Once I explained the need to delay and took the pressure off, the words began to flow.

Move on

Another client recently announced to the marketing team any projects more than 90 days old with no movement would be deactivated in the companys project management program. As a result, some dormant projects suddenly got done; others, let go. If its important enough, it can be added at another time. Or the person in charge of it can be replaced.  

Remember too to take on only as much as you can perform in the time allotted. When you have multiple clients all demanding your time, you must be the one to manage your own projects, especially if you have multiple clients all expecting deliverables around the same period. Set realistic deadlines at the onset—then meet them and youll have fewer tasks vying for your attention when you least expect, or can afford, it. 

Thank you for reading this,

Anne Saita