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What is the 5 Project Rule?

Do you ever find yourself working on too many things at once, and it feels like you can never finish what you set out to do? In today’s blog post, we’re going to break down the 5 Project Rule and how it could be the key to enhancing your productivity and getting things done on time.

This is a concept written about in Charlie Gillkey’s book, Start Finishing, where he shares how to prioritize your daily schedule to navigate uncertainty, stress, and competing priorities. We decided to quickly break down this concept for you so that you can try it out for yourself in your life and business.

The 5 Project Rule Explained

As human beings, we have a limited amount of cognitive ability on a daily basis. We also have a limited amount of things we can carry in our minds at once. Over time, people who manage projects a lot have come to realize that most of us cannot handle more than five active projects at a time. 

Part of this is also about motivation as well as cognition. It is hard to stay motivated when you’re not seeing discernible progress towards your end goals, and in turn it kills your confidence when things aren’t getting done. So the idea behind the 5 Project Rule is to prioritize the projects most important to you during a specific timeframe (ie. a week or month), so that you can stay motivated to finish, get better results, and gain confidence in completing more projects in the future.

An example of the 5 Project Rule in action

A project is anything that requires more than one step. For example, drinking a glass of water wouldn’t be considered a project because it is a single action. However, if you had an overarching goal of drinking more water and getting better at staying hydrated, that becomes a project because it requires more steps: figuring out how to stay more hydrated, what system you need to put into practice, and after a certain period of time, analysing whether you’re now getting enough water in my day to day life (and adjusting as appropriate).

How to get started with the 5 Project Rule

A project doesn’t necessarily have to be work-related. You can have projects in all areas of your life, from personal, to creative, to business. As you go over all the priorities you have at any given time, try being honest with yourself: do you have too many projects on the go? If so, how can you start splitting up your different projects into what can be done today, this week, or this month?

A big part of this concept is also making peace with the fact that some work will not get done once you prioritize your 5 most important projects. Remember we’re talking about active projects here, which doesn’t mean that other project won’t get done, just that you will come back to them once you’ve completed your other projects.

We hope this helps you reframe how you view all of your projects so that you can stop wearing so many hats at once. And if you’re looking for more healthy productivity tips, with the opportunity to mingle with likeminded creatives and join workshops led by industry experts, consider joining the Magnetic Makers membership today for just $27 a month!

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