We’ve all felt overwhelmed by the looming prospect of a complex project – whether that’s in construction marketing or elsewhere. Project management specialist Cesar Abeid has a proven strategy to help you achieve ambitious goals with confidence.
“If it can work for me, it can work for anyone,” says Cesar Abeid, an inspirational businessman, author, speaker and podcaster, who transformed his life by studying the art of project management. It gave him the muscle to achieve things – big things – that would never have been possible before.
A lot of us have probably started projects that we’ve never finished. And Cesar counts himself as one of them – albeit one of the converted.
“People either overthink what they need to accomplish and therefore never do it. Or they simply start doing it without any plan in place and then they fail,” he says. “What you need to do is find a happy medium.”
So how does Cesar recommend we avoid being overwhelmed and tackle our construction marketing projects in an organised, intelligent way?
Creating something unique
“First, it’s important to understand what a project is,” he says. “It’s any endeavour that has a definite beginning, a definite end and creates something unique.
“So take something complex that you want to complete – like a marketing project, writing a book or putting together a presentation – anything that’s complex that you can’t complete with just one task. Now, the first step is to gather your requirements and define exactly what you’re trying to do.
“Your project, even if it’s not that complex, will involve a lot of different elements to get to the result you’re aiming for. So the second step is to break it down into manageable chunks. The general rule of thumb is that you keep breaking these bits down until they’re manageable and simple enough to do yourself – or delegate – in a relatively short amount of time, say a day or a week depending on the size of your project.
“A mind-mapping tool – essentially creating a diagram that visually organises information (such as Mindmeister) can help you do this. Once you’ve broken your main idea down into these sub-sub-sub deliverables, you’ll have a really clear idea of how big your project is, how long it’s going to take and how much it will cost you. Then you’re ready to start working.”
Peace of mind
Even at this relatively basic level of planning, Cesar believes you’re much more likely to accomplish what you need to. And it’s a technique that works just as well on smaller projects as large and complex ones.
“Because it gives you an idea of scope, timeline and schedule, it gives you peace of mind,” says Cesar. “It means that when I start on a project – big or small – it gives me confidence because I have an idea of what’s coming. It allows me to focus on my ideas and not so much on the process.”
A common problem for anyone marketing their construction projects is finding the motivation to produce the content they’ve committed to. Good project management, says Cesar, can be just the ‘kick in the butt’ you need.
“If you have a campaign that requires a number of blog posts, when you broke down your project, the wider element was probably called content writing. Under that, you probably broke it down into written content, audio and video,” he says.
“And here’s the thing. Because it fits into your wider project, if you don’t do your blog, you can’t check it off. You need to say to yourself that if you don’t do this blog post, you’ll never finish this project. Project management gives you an understanding of where this smaller part fits into your overall goal.
The whole truth
“If you just haphazardly say, ‘oh I need to do another blog post this week’ and don’t put any thought into the planning, then you’re not going to put any thought into the execution. Whereas if you make a commitment from the beginning and understand where it fits in the whole, it keeps you motivated and means you’ll get things finished.”
Project management has given Cesar the muscles to make him more productive and improve his life – at work and home.
“It’s helped me in so many ways,” he says. “While people might think of me as ‘smart’, I never used to be able to finish anything. I was stressed out and overwhelmed until I learned all these techniques.
“My podcast and my book are all examples of things I couldn’t achieve without this process. Now I use it to accomplish everything – from work projects to birthday parties for my kids and vacations.”
Here are Cesar’s five tips for stress-free management of your construction marketing project:
Define your goals
Work out what you want to achieve from your project in as much detail as you can. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the details and all the definitions before you start. Just make sure you have enough to get things moving.
Break your project down into simpler, manageable parts
Using a tool like a mind map, take the main idea and break it down into its sub-deliverables. Keep doing so until these mini projects are simple enough that you – or a colleague or supplier – can do it in a day or a week, or whatever timescale works for you.
Decide if it’s for you
This is the point where you decide if this project is actually something you want to do. It’s okay to decide not to do it – or to postpone it – if your planning helps you come to that decision. It’s not the same as quitting. So make a decision and say, ‘this is something I want to do now, or this is something I want to do later’.
Do some estimates
Figure out how much it’s going to cost, how long it’s going to take and who you’re going to need help from. Do some estimates based on all the components of the project so you know what you’re embracing before you start.
Manage the risks
The point of having a project management plan in place is to finish it within budget and deadline. So it’s important to sit down and think about what could go wrong. It doesn’t have to be extensive. Just think of the issues that could arise that qualify as impactful and probable. Come up with five or ten risks that are highly probable and if they did happen would have a major impact. And think of a one-line contingency for each that you could implement if it were to happen. It will give you a huge amount of peace of mind and help you get the job done.
Cesar has some further words of wisdom for any marketer who’s keen on accomplishing more in their role.
“Once a year, think of the goals that you’d like to achieve in the next 12 months,” he says. “Look at them as a sequence of projects.
“The first year you might set yourself too many and realise you can’t achieve them. For me, I know now that five to eight is all I can handle. Putting a plan in place and knowing where you’re going with your goals is the secret.
“Also, if you have great ideas, but find you forget them, you need to have a moment of honesty. My memory’s horrendous and I finally accepted that I had a problem and unless I wrote things down in a place I knew I’d look, I’d forget them. This, combined with some sound project management methods, makes up for my shortcomings in terms of organisation and memory. And it can work for others too.”