I remember that first term paper I had to write when I was in school. It seemed so long! How could I ever have 20 pages to say about any subject? I felt overwhelmed by the size of the task. I think the teacher saw the same look of discouragement on all our faces, so she gave us a hint: make your table of contents first.

When I sat down to make my paper's table of contents, I realized I wasn't going to write 20 pages on the same subject: I was going to write 4 4-page sections on different aspects of the same subject. This was much easier to deal with, in terms of planning my work and feeling more in control of the paper.

The same happens when I have a huge project to work with. For example, with the release of AceProject 4.5, which is almost ready, we had to plan for documentation, promotional material, web site updates, email blasts, etc. Taken together without any structure, I felt like there was too much work and I was going to either be late or forget something.

So I created a project in AceProject. In this project, I created
a task group for each part of my project: Documentation, Web Site,
Announcement, Email campaign, Logistics. Each of these task groups contains all
related tasks. This way, I can easily focus on the Documentation tasks without
feeling overwhelmed by the other parts of the project. It feels a lot better.

What's also nice about structuring my project this way, is that I can know how many hours I've worked on each part of the project, and then plan ahead next time. For example, if it took me 20 hours more than planned to complete the email campaign, I can use this data to estimate my time better for the next AceProject release.

Small chunks are easier to process

It all comes down to how much you can chew. When the project feels too big, people will tend to procrastinate because they are afraid of it, or don't know where to start. A big project can simply be broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces.