Yet another project, just because you fear to miss out on something? This is called project FOMO. An entrepreneur’s illness you certainly know already. But there’s a remedy to it: namely 3 simple questions.
I wonder if our dear Projectina knows them …
That’s for sure. But was exactly is that FOMO? And what has it to do with project management? And, most important, how to get rid of it? Now, you’re curious, aren’t you? So, read on!
What is FOMO and what has it to do with project management?
The term “FOMO” originated – how could it be different? – in America. FOMO means: Fear Of Missing Out.
In fact, I dedicate this blog post to all these folks who spend their time in the social networks, walk around with their eyes scotched on the smartphone and get wet hands when somebody else posts nicer photos, seams to visit more interesting places and looks like living a more exciting live than they do. Well, on Facebook, there’s permanently somebody who is about experiencing something really great, isn’t it? And if not, just in case, one could still post cute kitty photos … See what I mean?
When I think about how many people watch some stupid TV series at the same time and then are taken FOMO because their lives are much less exciting than the J.R.’s, Meredith Grey’s or Katniss Everdeen’s then I wonder what has become of the human sanity? But, let’s get back to the actual topic.
FOMO can catch us in multiple fields. Amy Porterfield did a super podcast episode on how to avoid business FOMO. For example, creating yet another super-duper product or service or marketing concept or whatever and so create additional, unnecessary and unhealthy stress for the business owner.
Project FOMO, the one our Projectina seams to suffer from, is quite similar. Taking an additional project because somebody has asked you kindly and you think you could meet interesting people, become a hero or from now on you’ll be in that somebody’s good books for the rest of your life and you will get it paid back one day … All bullshit! Believe me!
The only thing that will happen for sure is, you will be totally stressed out, like our dear Projectina. And you will have no time for yourself. Things that are important to you, like your family, your friends, your business and, of course, yourself, will lose out.
At the same time, none of your projects gets the attention needed which makes the success of your projects a thing of the distant future. And, at the end of the day, those who should prostrate before you from thankfulness, rather tend to backbite because their dear project did not become your highest priority and ends up with only just acceptable results or, even worse, you totally messed it up. And it will be entirely your fault. Who will then remember that nobody else wanted to do it, or that nobody volunteered to give you a hand? Who is to be blamed? … YOU, my dear, only YOU! … Nooooooo, not the person who begged and supplicated you. Nope! … YOU, because you said ‘yes’.
But how to avoid such a situation? … Suspense …
If you want to win, you need to know your strengths. For your project, you’ll also need to know the weaknesses and threats so that you can prevent and react in good time. A SWOT analysis can help!
Download it here, it’s free: SWOT analysis template
3 simple questions to get rid of project FOMO
Projectix already said it. Simply say ‘no’. On the other hand, Projectina is right too. How to handle it in a way to be at peace with yourself and your dear fellows?
I have 3 questions for you (inspired by Amy Porterfields podcast):
Question 1: Will this project get me closer to my goals?
This first one is a question of principle. When somebody suggests you do something, then it should bring you forward somehow. After all, the person suggesting will in any case get some advantage from you doing it. Otherwise he/she would not suggest it. For example, saved time, because he doesn’t need to do it anymore. Or a carrier step forward, because he will take the credit in the end. Or money, because he can sell you something, like a new marketing concept you implement with your project.
To make it a win-win, YOU must make sure to be closer to YOUR goals once this new project is successfully terminated. Which goals?
Well, I hope you have goals for the different areas of your life. For example, “I want to make the next step up the job ladder” … “I want to double my business volume” … “I want to meet at least 10 interesting people” …
First task for you:
Imagine your future when you will have successfully terminated this project. How will it be? Will you be closer to one of your goals than you are today?
Let’s have a look at Projectina’s school project. If her goal would be to climb the job ladder, then that school project is definitely counterproductive because for doing it right, she will have to neglect some of her business projects. If, on the contrary, her goal would be to establish a good personal relationship to the school director to support her son, then that school project could be a good idea.
Let’s suppose this new project doesn’t bring you closer to your goals. Knowing this, you can, kindly but with total conviction say to the person who asks you: “I’m sorry, but I can’t manage this school project because, this year I want to foreground my career.”
Important: Only when you answer question 1 with a clear YES, then it’s worth asking the following question 2.
Question 2: Do I have the necessary resources?
Ok, the new project gets you closer to your goals. Though it wasn’t in your planning for this year, but as it helps you achieving your goals, it’s worth a second sight.
What do I mean with resources? In this context, with resources I mean time, but also money, know-how, contacts etc.
Means, when you take this new project, you will need to spend time on it. Maybe it comes with some costs, for example, the rebuilding of your website your marketing expert advised. It could also be, that you as the project manager (even if it is your own project) need some special know-how to execute this project. Or you realise that you need a team to help you or that you better have some special connections within your circle of acquaintances.
Second task for you:
Think over which resources you will need. How much time the project will take off your time? Which costs are to be considered? Which people do you need in your team? What kind of special knowledge is needed?
List all these points and reflect whether
1.) you already have this resource, or you can provide it yourself easily. For example, if you need time, you could simply refrain from watching that beloved daytime series for the time of the project.
2.) you can get this resource externally and reliably. For example, you know somebody who can do task A, B or C in your project.
Only when you are absolutely confident about the resources, only then you accept that project!
Let’s have a look at a business project an entrepreneur friend of yours suggests. You are sure that the project brings you closer to your goals which answers question 1 with a clear ‘Yes’. Now comes the resource question number 2.
Suppose you don’t have time and your family is already not very amused about your work overload. Then you need to find some time somehow and somewhere.
You could do this for example with postponing or cancelling other projects having less positive influence on your goals achievement than the new one. Or you could outsource some tasks. This is perhaps a great opportunity to give some tasks away you should not execute yourself anyway?
One thing is extremely important:
You must be able to provide the resource with 100% guarantee. So, just acting on the assumption that Ms X or Mr Y will have time and be in the mood for helping you, can get you into big trouble. So, ask them UPFRONT!
Question 3: Does it make sense right now?
If you answered the first two questions with ‘Yes’, then you could start with the project as it brings you forward and you have the resources.
Nevertheless, I want you to ask a third question: “Does it make sense right now?”
To explain the background … I’ve seen it very often that entrepreneurs or project managers start to flounder because they didn’t ask this decisive question.
Unfortunately, we tend to put a gloss on figures. Especially when our counterpart argued convincingly. Just quickly stretched an ongoing project, added some thousand euros or burden a bit more time on the team or a bit less on the family.
A word of warning, especially for the stretching of other projects. It’s crucial that you are very confident about that new project and that you talk about it with your team and family. Because nothing is more confusing than somebody who permanently knocks everything on the head because of some new super-duper idea.
It’s always much better to terminate ongoing projects correctly instead of squeezing something new in somehow. Otherwise, you can easily become one of those who start 1000 things and get nothing finished.
Perhaps, visualising it helps you understand the problem:
Suppose you have 3 projects.
Scenario 1: Each project takes 3 months when spending 100% of your time on it and doing one project after another.
Scenario 2: This scenario has FOMO. You are stretching each project to do all of them at the same time. Now, you can only spend 33% of your time per project which extends their duration to 9 months each.
In both scenarios, the last project terminates after 9 months.
Third task for you:
Count the green cases and tell me when project 1 and 2 are terminated and how many months earlier you can profit from the results of the already terminated projects.
Now its your turn!
Indeed, the risk is very high to blunder into the trap of chasing the ever new and more exciting project. And in doing so, to neglect your own needs and run straight into a burnout.
Bonus tip: When you stumble upon a new project, I recommend you let go one week minimum before you accept. Perhaps, after one week, this new exciting project looks much less radiant and tempting and the matter has resolved itself.
Now, I would love to know if you too, you suffer from FOMO from time to time. If so, how do you handle it?
TASK FOR YOU:
Observe yourself for the next four weeks! Do you have project FOMO? Be honest! If yes, then try my 3 questions and do the three tasks mentioned above.
If you’re interested in the podcast I mentioned, here is the link to Amy Porterfield’s episode about FOMO in business.
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