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4 Reasons You Need to Focus on the Present for Project Success

It's a natural temptation to step out of the present. Looking to the future or fixating on the past. Either direction can provide an escape from the here and now, especially in project management, where the emphasis on the goals you're striving for, or the mistakes you previously made, can become all-encompassing.

However, maintaining focus on the present could actually be the key to your successful projects. From staying rooted in reality to not getting left behind in the future, read below to find out why.

You can't expect a successful future if you ignore your problems now.

'What's your five-year plan?'

A question we've probably all faced at some point or another. Both personally and professionally, there is an expectation to have the future mapped out years in advance. This is undeniably valuable and something we should all be considering. Direction and goals are vital to success. However, sometimes, it is not the question you should be asking.

Not every business owner is in a position to be thinking five years ahead when they feel like they're drowning now. Problems you're facing now need to be the first priority before future ambitions are on the table. Focusing on the present allows you to know the true reality of your situation and figure out what you really need to improve your business.

On the other hand, distant long-term questions can be tempting to avoid asking the difficult questions now. Problems or goals far removed from yourself can be easier to deal with rather than confronting the issues you are facing currently. However, avoidance helps no one. We help businesses consider these difficult questions because we know it's the only way to make change.

Don't get bogged down in the past.

Learning from past mistakes is key for project success, but obsessing over them is holding you back. Living in the past and focusing on what went wrong with previous projects can heighten a crippling fear of failure. Not wanting to repeat the mistakes of the past can leave you stranded, afraid to do anything for fear of it going wrong.

Understanding the benefits of failure for growth, learning and opportunity helps you stay in the present. We all want to make our projects a success. Failure is never the goal, but without a balanced approach to failure, you'll hurt your projects more than you help.

Even when your past projects have been successful, you should resist the urge to get stuck in the past. It's easy to keep doing things the same way, especially if it's gone well in the past. However, one size does not fit all. Focusing on the present allows you to recruit the best practices from the past while recognising ways you need to adapt. Change is constant so staying in the moment is vital to not get left behind.

Get it done.

Once you've found the balance between an awareness of future goals and lessons from the past, you've got to get things done. It's still easy to get caught up in distractions around you. Maybe it's not a five-year plan, but rather a seemingly endless to-do list or long-winded communication on what has been achieved so far. You might think you're in the moment, but very little is getting done. The governance and politics of a project can keep it from making real change and progress.

Ask yourself: what is needed now to improve? Focusing on the present is not just being in the moment, but actually making changes. It allows you to keep the problem you're trying to fix at the front of your mind and make realistic and appropriate steps to reach a solution.

Stay ahead of the curve.

Whether you think it's a problem you face with your projects or not, staying in the present will soon be a necessity.

Dana Brownlee discusses the introduction of AI in project management, quoting Michael DePrisco, Vice President Global Solutions, PMI: 'While traditional project management roots focused on tasks like scheduling and tactical planning, AI will likely automate much of that functionality thereby shifting the Project Manager’s core focus'.

The introduction of AI in projects means managers will have to stay in the present to remain relevant, as technology takes over the more administrative duties.

At Projects that Deliver, we want to help you focus on the here and now to make real change in your business. We know how to ask the difficult questions to face up to your current situation and learn from where you've got wrong in the past. You don't need to get bogged down in worries and distractions with our help.

Check out our website to learn more or book in a quick chat. We love to talk about anything projects.

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