The next time you are starting a large project (or unit plan or scheduling a year of activities) and feel overwhelmed, do the following before you over-react: break it down. Don’t take a huge leap and try to figure out what the exact first step in the process would be. Don’t go from the idea for a new type of transportation infrastructure to trying to figure out what the first step is to make it happen. It’s just too big of a leap and I guarantee that where you think you need to start and where you actually need to start are worlds apart.
Break the project into four general sections or areas of responsibility, and then throw away the three least important or least pressing. Okay, don’t throw them away. Just push them to the side and don’t look at them again right now.
Then break down that one section into three or four pieces. Get rid of the least important or least pressing. I think you see where this is going.
Continue this process until you’ve arrived at the core principle of the project; the lever that will help propel your project in the right direction.
Now, think of the steps to achieve only this one deliverable or one idea. That’s where you start, start with your lever.
At the end of this exercise, you’ll have two things: a reasonably precise and accurate vision of where to begin, and (if you choose to put all of the ‘thrown away’ ideas back together) an outline of the overall arc the project will take.