When I thought about walking my first half marathon, the task seemed overwhelming. I had never walked more than a few miles. But I enrolled in a training program which allowed me to start slowly with three mile walks.

As I progressed through the program, my distance and speed increased. I was prepared and ready for the race, so it was actually fun, and I felt good the next day. Since my first race I’ve completed  ten mini marathons. Each one is easier than the last because I approach each one with the same plan. I  know where I should be at different check points in my training schedule. The milestones keep me on track, so I am ready for the race.

The lessons I learned preparing for the race come in handy whenever I approach a new project for my small business. I break the process down into smaller steps.  Milestones tied to specific goals and objectives help me measure my progress and let me know I’m moving in the right direction. Just as I know I needed to be up to a comfortable speed for an 8 mile walk  in the beginning of April, it helps if I can compare our progress on a web design project against milestones set for weeks 3, 7 and 10.

For larger projects, I break the project down into a series of tasks. I use a simple checklist to capture the actions, milestone date, who is responsible and the current status for each task. It can be as simple as using an Excel spreadsheet or a white board, or something more complex such as one of these project management software tools.

The important thing is for you to have a checklist you can refer to so nothing falls between the cracks and you can tell if you are ahead or behind schedule.  It’s important to look at the big picture and have one eye on the end result, but real progress happens when you focus on achieving the interim goals along the way.