Midway through a project, what to do next?

“And it’s whispered that soon, if we all call the tune, then the piper will lead us to reason.” – Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven

It’s nice to have a muse, or a piper, to show us the way forward but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, it’s up to us to decide the best path, specifically what do next. When there are a number of options which should we choose?

I was working on my own pet project the other day and had this exact problem. Of the 50 or so things I’d identified, which should I do next?

I came up with this simple method and it helped me decide what to do next.

1. Break down the project/product/service into chunks
What these chunks will look like will depend on what you’re doing. Are you building a steam-train or writing a presentation?

2. Prioritise the chunks
Do you need a steam engine first or a chassis? Images for your presentation or the words?

3. Evaluate where you are now
For each chunk where are you on the No FRILs scale (below)?

4. Decide where you want to be, overall
Where are you aiming for on the No FRILs scale? Are you looking to simply provide a reliable service or do you want to blow the socks off your customers? (p.s. be honest here, it’ll save you pain in the long term)

5. Evaluate overall status
Which chunk is farthest from your desired level? If there’s just one there, that’s what you work on. In case of a tie-breaker, go back to your priorities from part 2. Compare all the chunks at this lowest level. Whichever is highest-priority is what you work on next.

I hope this helps you as much as it helped me. Let me know if you find this useful in the comments below. And drop me a line if you can help me get another ‘L’ into the end of the scale!


No FRILs Scale

Nowhere – does nothing
Functional – solves a problem (your train runs sometimes)
Reliable – no bugs (it runs all the time but there’s only one door for all passengers)
Ideal – no frustrations (now the train has a suitable number of doors)
Lovable – does everything expected and more besides (free chocolates for all passengers)