There are many types of task in this world, but the two types that are on my mind today are the ones that can be completed without any dependencies on anyone else, and the ones that die a slow, horrible death as they endlessly wait for a critical (or marginally related!) task to be completed by another well-meaning task-doer.
On the days when I believe one of my projects is stalled, I should probably remind myself that I may have simply identified the wrong tasks as being the critical ones.
One of the lessons I’ve learned over the last few years as the workplace has become busier and the projects increasingly vaguely defined and sporadic is that a good focus on completing an “immediate” task each day is essential. The way I see it, if someone isn’t chomping at the bit to get the result of a piece of work, then you need to seriously question whether that work should be done at all.
A corollary to this is that it pays a great benefit to be constantly on the lookout for your “most popular” task completions and project scores. Those are the ones people care about, and since the business always moves in the direction of the people who care the most, these tend to be aligned with business goals.
Notice those popular tasks, and figure out ways to amplify them into trends, new work, and an ever-larger rolling ball of successful projects done.
One of the reasons it is so important to periodically “ping” your contacts while working on a long-term project is that these “pings” will occasionally reveal that one of your important contacts has moved on, and is no longer with the organization (thus no longer very helpful…).
On the plus side, you often get in return an auto-reply with a new contact, and this is a good opportunity for a new introduction and restatement of your project’s message. 🙂