3 Reasons to Put that Project on the Back Burner 

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3 Reasons to Put that Project on the Back Burner 

Has a non-urgent professional or a personal project been giving you grief?

Do you feel more and more frustrated when it comes to working on those related projects tasks and to-dos?

Pushing through a difficult spot isn’t always the best, or most productive solution.

This is especially the case when you’re not under an urgent deadline.

In fact, it may be exactly the right time to put that project on hold, and give yourself a much-needed break!

In this post, I offer three smart reasons to put that project on the back burner.

The next time a non-urgent project gets under your skin, take a moment to carefully consider these points.

It may be a good idea to put the project on hold, and come back to it at a later date.


You’re having extreme difficulty moving things forward.

You’ve tried to schedule meetings, revise documents, and get those product quotes you need. Yet for some odd reason, no matter how hard you try, you end up at square one. You’re having trouble getting a small group of people to meet on Tuesday at 4 P.M., you don’t receive those necessary revisions, and people don’t return your calls and emails. What’s going on?

Unfortunately, this may be one of those times where no matter how hard you try to push a project forward, it stalls, and goes absolutely nowhere. You really have done everything you’ve possibly could to get that project underway. Yet externally, when it comes to other people, places, and things, well, they aren’t budging an inch.

Of course, this isn’t to say that all planning, scheduling, and organizing regularly goes on without a hitch (this is real-life we’re talking about, after all). But when the tremendous effort you exert in your work results in little to no forward motion, well, it may be time to take a well-deserved project break.

Instead of wasting your time and energy trying to push a stubborn project through, you could be making consistent and regular progress on a different, and more urgent item.

You’re only seeing the forest for the trees.

You’ve been furiously working on your project over the past several weeks and months. You’ve been focused on all those little, everyday tasks. The only problem is that you’re completely missing the big picture. You’ve been completely blinded by the all the teeny-tiny details, at the expense of your overall project.

If your project seems to have visible end in sight, it might be a good idea to change your perspective. Instead of looking at your project through a daily lens, try looking at the project in terms of weeks, months, and years. Why are you working on this project in the first place? What will this project ultimately produce? How does this project relate to your personal or professional goals?

If you’re having difficulty answering these questions, you might want to take a giant step back. Put your problem project on the back burner for a couple of days, or even possibly weeks. Turn your attention to a wholly different assignment or project, so you can gain some much-needed perspective.

You realize the time is right to work on something else.

Let’s say you’re working on two different projects. Project A is a non-urgent project you’ve been working on for weeks, but your progress in it remains less than desired. Project B is an more urgent project, and with very little effort on your part, after a long spell of inactivity, things are finally picking up speed. Your proposal was approved, your contacts say the deal is in on, and those promotional items are finally back in stock. Should you continue on with Project A, or should you start focusing on Project B?

Obviously, in this case it would make more sense to place your energies towards working on Project B. It looks as if the timing is right for the project to move forward. Sure, you could try to push Project A forward, but why not take the path of least resistance and turn your attention toward Project B?

The next time you’re faced with a similar situation, consider which path is indeed the path of least resistance. Would you prefer to work productively, or continue to spin your wheels? Would you prefer to do your work with less stress, or fight against it every single day?

And lastly, it’s important to keep in mind that when you take a break from a project, it doesn’t mean the project won’t ever be completed. You’re just stepping away from it for a little bit. To make sure you stay on track, add a reminder to your calendar or planner so you can reevaluate your original project in a few weeks’ or months’ time.

How about you? Where in your life might it be a good idea to put a project on hold? What signs or pieces of evidence have lead you to your decision? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

A version of this post appeared on the blog in 2015.

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Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.
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