5 Tips for Taking on New Projects Without Stressing Out

By Chelsea Babin

Through the course of your career, projects will come and go. But new projects—ones that challenge your creativity, stretch your skills, ask you to bravely go where you’ve never gone before—can sometimes cause stress. Want to take on new projects without stressing out? Follow these five tried and true tips.

1. Do Your Research: Whether you’re learning a new skill, dusting off an old skillset you haven’t used in a while, or diving headfirst into a project no one has tried before, the best way to prevent panic is to do your research ahead of time. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to warding off your fears, insecurities, and stressors.

2. Ask Questions: If you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask! Part of the challenge of taking on new projects is figuring out how to approach each particular detail while figuring out what your boss or clients are looking for. To get a thorough understanding of their expectations, don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for clarification. Doing this now will save you from a lot of unneeded stress down the road and you’ll be more likely to deliver a project that meets or exceeds expectations.

3. Plan Backwards: Once you have a clear understanding of what the project requires of you and what the expectations are, start planning. But, don’t just plan from today and work your way to the due date. Do it backwards! See what needs to be done by when in order to meet your final deadline and set plenty of smaller, more manageable deadlines along the way. This will help keep you focused, on track, and on time, which will save you from a lot of stress.

4. Leave Room for the Unexpected: Now that you have a plan in mind, pad it with a little extra room. When you’re tackling a new project and it’s asking you to do something you’ve never done before, you will understandably not be able to expect every bump in the road ahead of time. Leaving room for the unexpected will keep you from stressing out now and, when a problem or diversion arises, you’ll have the time to handle it with care without panicking.

5. Recognize That You’ll Make Mistakes: It’s incredibly frustrating to make a mistake but, the truth is, when you’re tackling the kind of project you’ve never done before you’re almost guaranteed to make a few mistakes along the way. Having the mindset that “failing fast and failing often” leads to great growth and learning experiences will help you immensely and help you stress out less. No one should expect you to get everything done perfectly the first time you’re doing something, least of all you. Just do your best, correct your mistakes, and use them as a learning experience.

It’s exciting to take on a new project—especially when it requires you to do something you’ve never done before—but it can also be stressful. Use these 5 tips to avoid stressing out when taking on new projects!

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