I'm in the middle of a big, long-term project at work right now---one that eats up a significant portion of my workweek. It's a federal grant application that's due soon, so it's go time.
When I'm carving out time to work on this project, I always seem to forget one thing: it's so massive, so complex, that I rarely accomplish anything significant until I've been working on it for 20-30 minutes. During this warm-up time, I'm remembering the parameters I have to work within, reviewing recent progress, and painting a mental picture of the current state of the project as compared to its desired final state. In essence, I'm loading the project into my working memory.
It can take a while to wrap our minds around a big project each day. We can work with this reality by scheduling long chunks of time for such work and cutting ourselves a little slack if we can't go from 0-60 in 10 seconds.