The Project Cagematch: How to Get to Your Top 5 Projects

Most of us dream of an idealized time and place where we could work on just one project at a time. But the reality is most people continuously work on a few projects and goals at a time. 

Since projects take longer than we think they will and/or life intervenes, we often have to re-prioritize and recalibrate which of our projects and goals are most important.

Obviously we want to sort projects and goals from most important to least important. Easier said than done.

So why not add a little fun into the process?

To get clear on what matters most we use an exercise called the project cagematch. (Yes, the name comes from professional wrestling.)  If you’re not familiar, a cagematch in wrestling happens in a steel cage to eliminate interference and keep action and attention on the two fighters.

In our version, we have you take two projects at a time and have them go head to head again and again until one comes out as the last project standing. 

Here’s how to work through a project cagematch:

  1. List all the projects that are on your mind. Remember personal projects count as projects – weddings, vacations, moves, graduations because they’re going to require time, energy, and attention to see through.
  2. Compare the relative strength and pull of each project with others. Most of the time, people have a pretty strong sense of which ones are less important or may get thrown out of the ring before the match even starts. Do yourself a favor and eliminate those from consideration now.
  3. Choose a project that seems pretty strong and compare it to the other projects remaining in the match. Which does it beat? Which one beats it? At this stage, you don’t have to articulate why one project beats another – go with your gut.
  4. Rinse and repeat until you get a rough sense of an order of the projects . 
  5. Think about what made the projects particularly strong, starting from the top project and working your way down.

Remember in this process that:

Simple ≠ easy. The process may be clear but that doesn’t mean it won’t require effort.

Removing options can be emotional. Narrowing your projects down to five requires some letting go. Letting go is not always the easiest, especially when we're dealing with our goals and dreams. But you don’t have to say “bye” to projects that don’t make the cut. More on this below 👇. 

Momentum forces a bit of a cagematch by design. It’s built to show you what constraints you have to work around — time, project load, commitments — and turns out that’s a benefit

What About the “Good But Not Strong Enough” Projects?

When most people work through this process honestly, it usually turns out a project that is “supposed” to be really important finds itself in the middle of the pack. 

These kinds of projects tend to be important but not urgent, and above them land: 

  1. Urgent projects (whether important or not) 
  2. Projects other people want or need to be done
  3. Projects that tie into non-negotiable values and priorities

The third category can be useful, powerful, and underappreciated in decision-making. 

For instance, many parents place importance on supporting their kids, but feel torn between being productive and being a good parent. However being a good parent can also mean being productive.

In other cases, the strongest projects for someone might tie into breadwinning and security - because the person values financial security.

The benefit of the project cagematch is not that it shows which projects and goals are most important, but which values and priorities are most important.  For most people, it’s projects in the middle – important enough to be contenders, but not important enough to actually win the match – that cause frustration and tension. 

There’s no secret answer here. But we can point out another solution that can help with those projects that don’t make the cut. 👇

How Momentum Can Help With Setting Priority

Just because some of your projects didn’t win this time doesn’t necessarily mean those have to stay down for the count. You get to decide if it’s a no or a not right now.

Here are some ways Momentum helps you manage projects that don't make the cut, right now at least: 

⏩Defer Push your projects to next month, next quarter, or next year if they’ve fallen into the important but not urgent category. Give yourself the peace of mind that they will get done, just not right now. 

💾 Archive Not sure when you’ll be able to get around to a project but you don’t want to forget about it? Put it in the Archive and get it off your mind without losing the important details and connected tasks. When the time is right, Momentum will let you pick it up where you left off.

🚫Delete Letting go of projects that we know we won’t get to (or maybe don’t want to) frees up our time, energy, and attention to get to those we can and want to. Delete it from Momentum and your mind.

You can read more elsewhere on our blog about how to defer, archive, and delete in Momentum.

Time Is the Ultimate Cagematch

On a final note, if you’re still struggling with your priorities, you can rest assured that the cycle of time is the ultimate cagematch. At some point in the future, you’ll be looking back on today’s project cagematch and seeing which projects won.

Today though you get to decide which of your projects will win, and which can be let go of (for now) to let others fly. 

A version of this post was originally published on www.productiveflourishing.com

Momentum Team

We're the team behind Momentum. And we're here to help get your most important projects from start to done.