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Mike Templeton is an experienced marketer with a history in building community on the web.

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Project Detox and Knowing When to Quit

At most of the events I’ve attended recently, I am always greeted with the same question:

“What exactly is it that you do? I seem to see your name everywhere online.”

With so many asking this question, I’ve been able to formulate what I think is a good response.

“I have a lot of fires burning, but I’m looking for the right one to keep stoking so that it will take off.”

When an interesting project comes into your mind or you are offered the opportunity to collaborate on something interesting, it’s often hard to resist. I’ve gotten into this situation with clients, with friends and with my career. I’ve taken on clients whom I probably should have declined, I’ve started projects I shouldn’t have and I’ve made career movements I later came to regret, but really it’s just hard to resist.

Being known as an idea person and someone who is interested in a lot of things, keeping up with all of these efforts can become personally draining. Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I had no outside projects whatsoever, but it just doesn’t seem feasible. Based on my nature, I’ll most likely always have something else going on the side, just to keep me motivated and continuing to expand my skills.

So, given that I like working on projects and ideas, but I sometimes feel spread to thin, I’ve recently been running through internal processes to validate my ideas and find projects to put on the chopping block. For a guy with 10+ Twitter accounts, two business bank accounts, more WordPress installations than I care to remember and a handful of email addresses, I knew there would be potential to clean house.

The Project Detox Process

If you find yourself in a similar position as me, or just feel like streamlining your project list, consider walking through the following questions:

  • What value is this project providing?
  • Is this project generating income?
  • Is your project compensating you well enough for the time required to generate that income?
  • Are their easier ways to manage this project?
  • How much time does this project require?
  • Could the management of this project be outsourced and still provide the same value?
  • What else could you being doing with the time spent on this project?
  • Is there a long-term future for this project?
  • Do you see yourself continuing to pursue this project into the foreseeable future?

If you answer “no” for very many of these questions, it’s easy to see you may be looking at a project worth dumping. And if you don’t want to totally delete a project, just find a shelf where it can sit until you have some “yes” answers to motivate you.

These questions and this process are not meant to say that every project that fails to receive positive answers should be killed off, but it is a quick way to get you thinking about the outcomes of these ideas. Too often we can become so wrapped up in an idea that we miss out on the answers to many of these questions, allowing ourselves to be blindsided and missing other types of opportunities.

2 Responses to “Project Detox and Knowing When to Quit”

  1. It’s nice to hear someone going through the same thing – and I love your criteria list.

    We are “trimming the hedges” as well.. Here is our criteria

    1. Does the project have potential revenue in 3-6 months?
    2. Does the project have residual revenue possibilities?
    3. Is it something we want to maintain in the future?
    4. Can we “set it and forget it”?
    5. Is it worth the time investment up front?

    As another guy with 20+ WordPress sites, Twitter accounts, etc we are in the same boat. Time is our biggest resource – and it gets scarce when spread across too many projects…

    We are trying to get it down to 3 projects so we can maintain focus :)

    • One of the hardest things for me is that it is too easy to start something new. Because of the tools we are using (WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), you can have a new site up and running in a matter of hours. I don’t know how many domain names I’ve bought over the years that seemed like a good idea at the time, but ended up stalling out.

      By the way, maybe some of these ideas should be hitting the Startup Junkyard? At least that way there’s some potential for things to live on (and perhaps make some money from the sale). :)

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