How to Keep an Overview When Planning Big Projects

Do you know the feeling when you think of the numberless tasks and steps you need to take for a bigger goal or project?

When one thing comes to your mind, you don’t even know anymore the various others you thought of a second ago... Thinking of this goal or task is completely overwhelming.

Often, people don’t know where to start because of the overload of steps to take. Or when they start, they lose the overview or the direction to go into and finally never quit. Going for a big project or goal can be a big struggle. But there’s a way to make it a lot easier…


Know what to do first

The problem of being overwhelmed by a project is in most cases that people have too much opportunities to do. This makes it overwhelming to decide what to do next. 

Of course, it is way easier to decide between A and B instead of A, B, C, D, E and F.

When I started my business here on, I too had (and still have every day) a massive load of possible tasks.

But I have the right strategies at hand to stay in control of my action plan.

The clue is: before you start, you should always exactly know what to do.

If you always know your next step, you won’t even have to decide between A, B and the other ones, you know before that your best next step is B (for example).

This keeps your mind free from overwhelm and saves you psychical energy for the execution of your project.

Always having to think of what to do next also costs a huge amount of time. You save that time in the execution when you already know this.

Thus, you are more focused on the project itself versus being focused on the various opportunities.

Distraction steals a huge amount of time too.

Every time you get distracted, you need around 23 minutes to completely focus again. And of course, less focus means less results.

Thinking of what to do next is a distraction. When you already know it, your focus remains on the execution and you do effective and fast work.

The only question now is: How do I know what to do next? Read on…

Top-Down planning

The most effective way of planning a bigger goal or project is Top-Down planning.

As the name already says, here you plan down from the top to the bottom.

This means, you know your end result and plan all the steps you need to take down until today. You go from big to small, so long that you end today.

A question to ask yourself here is: “What is my end result and what do I need to have to reach it?”

For example, when I started my business, the end result was of course this business you see here on this website.

Therefore, I needed a website, a social media appearance, an e-mail newsletter, products and a network of other experts. For the website I needed a domain, texts, a design etc. So, as you hopefully see, I went down from the top to the bottom.

To make this clear, the bottom is the step you can do right away.

When you executed your planning well, you can literally start tomorrow. Go so small, that the next step is right in front of you. Then you connected the dots between your situation today and your desired result.

But you still need to bring all those steps into an order, so you don’t lose the overview over all those steps. There is also a great solution for this…


Mind-mapping is the easiest way to keep an overview when organizing a project or goal. There are free tools like “FreeMind” where you can easily create mind-maps.

When you mind-map your project, you start with your end result in the middle and go outside. Step by step, every step leading to the step before and after.

For example, when I built my business, the middle of the mind-map of course was “Business”.

The next step was to ask myself: “Which things do I need, so that my business runs?” Those are the next steps in the mind-map. For me this was having a website, having an appearance on Social Media, having a network etc.

Then you go deeper and deeper into the knots of the mind-map. For example, I wanted to have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest profile, so I took them as steps under the social media knot.

For my Facebook account, I needed a Facebook business account, which has to be managed with a personal account.

Therefore, I also wanted to have a new personal account because my old one was completely outdated and I did not know anymore which settings I made etc.

Plus, I wanted to have some nice and professional looking pictures on my Facebook account, so I wanted them to be made by a pro. This all goes into your mind-map - from inside to outside.

See how this all fits together?

You do it like that for every single point in your mind-map - so long that the last point of every strand is more or less immediately actionable.

This is some work, but this really pays because you never lose overview and you always know what to do.

When you then start the project, you go from the outside of the mind-map to the inside. This means you choose one of the outer points and execute them.

You do this so long until you’re in the middle and you did every single thing in the mind-map.

Another Mind-Mapping benefit

Mind-mapping not only keeps your overview in projects, it also makes it easier for you to stick to this project or goal.

This is because mind-maps appeal to both hemispheres of your brain, left and right.

The left hemisphere of the brain is for analytic thought, logic etc. The right one is for creativity, emotion etc.

A mind-map appeals to both because there are written components (left hemisphere) and picture-like components – the strands and knots etc. (right hemisphere).

Activating both of your brain hemispheres increases the possibility that the goal gets into your subconscious.

Your subconscious creates a deeper desire in you to reach that goal. It also makes you more creative when working on your project. This gives you better results and makes it easier to really get what you wanted.


Your action plan now is: next time you have a project or a goal, make a mind-map.

Then choose the step you want to take first and start. Keep it going, step by step. And only concentrate on one step at a time. Only when one step is finished, take another one.

Do this week by week, step by step, and you will reach the middle of your mind-map and finally your desired end result without being stressed or overwhelmed.

About the Author

Maurice Leibinn is the creator of Productive Energy Management – a method that helps people get a maximum amount of results in a minimum of time while sustaining their energy and avoiding any kind of overwhelm.
He is a productivity Coach serving ​serving ​overworked entrepreneurs and​ professionalsRead more...