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Finish What You Started - 10 Hacks for How to Get Things Done

how to finish what you start

I don’t think of myself as a procrastinator. I like to think of myself as more of an incompletist. I don’t have any problem starting something; it’s the middle parts of a task or a project that derail me. I’m excited at the beginning because it’s fresh, new, and full of possibilities, especially if I’m working on something creative. But when the freshness has worn off, my intent and focus start to wane. Finishing what I started isn’t as important to me.

There are many reasons why it’s hard for you to finish what you started. There are all the fears such as fear of failure, fear of failing to impress, fear of setting the bar too high, and or fear of not being perfect. Why should you do something that you know you’re going to fail at or that will not be the best? This is the time when your negative self-talk can really come alive, pointing out to you how it’s laughable that you’d attempt to do something at all, let alone think that it would be any good.

We all have things that we put off doing—sometimes we forget about them entirely, but a lot of the time, those half-finished projects hang over our heads. We can’t see them, but we are very aware that they’re there. I can give you a list off the top of my head of things that I never finished as a student.

Yes, there are some incomplete tasks and projects that do go away. I never finished my craft’s project in high school and nothing major happened. The problem is that when you don’t finish what you started some tasks evolve and become more complicated. If you procrastinate and don’t send in the payment for your taxes, they will start charging you fees, and interest. Here’s the thing, when you finish what you started, even something with very little consequences, it not only makes you feel good, it empowers you to try to do something more challenging.

How to Finish What You Start With 10 Hacks

Finish What You Started by Making a List

There’s no way to hide it if your task is right there on your list. Sure, you can skip around but until you finish it and can check it off, it’s there waiting for you to deal with it.

Reframe Your Project to Finish What You Started

Try to see your task with a new perspective. Think about how relieved you’ll feel when it’s over or how accomplished. Is there a way that you can breathe new life into it and make it fun? Maybe your book club is reading a book that you think is boring, why not get the audio version and listen to it as you do your nightly run?

Decide To Finish What You Start

While it may be easier said than done, there’s something about putting it out there that makes us take it seriously. You’re making a promise to yourself, that no matter what, you’re going to finish this. If you have to change your behavior or your attitude, you’re going to get it done.

Be Selective About Tasks

Don’t put every single thing that you have to do on your list. Put only the things that need to get done or there’ll be repercussions on the “Must-Do” List. And yes, being disappointed in yourself is a repercussion. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with a ten-page list.

Break Down The Task Into Manageable Parts

Okay, you know what you need to work on, but you don’t want to feel defeated before you begin. Say you want to write an E-book on cats, writing an entire book can be daunting, so break it down and promise to write a certain number of pages per session. Those small steps will add up to a finished project.

Don’t Split Your Focus

Have you ever been working on a project and suddenly had a burst of inspiration—not about what you’re supposed to be focused on but something else? It’s hard to just ignore the desire to start a whole new project when you feel so inspired, but those ideas aren’t your friends right now—they’re a distraction. Anything that takes you physically or mentally away from what you’re trying to finish isn’t helping, so ignore them or write them down quickly. This is why multitasking isn’t a good idea right now.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

It doesn’t matter if someone else completes your task faster, easier, or better. The only person you’re competing with is yourself, and just finishing what you started by completing the project is a win-win for you.

Just Finish What You Started

No matter what the project or task is, try to do the whole thing without changing, editing, or perfecting until you’re finished. If you have any perfectionist in you, you know how easy it is to get stuck when trying to perfect something. Make it a sh*tty first draft or a bad first attempt at knitting a scarf, it’s okay as long as you get it done. You can work to make it better when it’s finished.

Finish What You Started by Creating Deadlines and Rewarding for Yourself

If you’re like me, having something due whenever isn’t helpful. I need to have solid times when something needs to be finished, and I need to be rewarded for my efforts. The rewards don’t have to be huge—getting a mani/pedi or purchasing some new music—just something that reinforces my good work.

Use The Timer Method to Finish What You Start

Lauren Graham picked up this technique from screenwriter Don Roos. The day before, make a schedule and schedule in 60-minute periods of time to complete a task. If you want to have more than one 60-minute session, then make sure you schedule in breaks between them. The next day, as it gets closer to your scheduled time, silence your phone and make surfing the internet and returning emails forbidden. There are apps that will limit your access if you need them. Then for that hour, try to do the task you set for yourself. If you’re not feeling it, do something else for the 60-minutes. The point is to do something. When the hour is up, stop. Take a break and celebrate your victory. If you didn’t complete the time, then schedule less time the next day.

Finishing what you start and completing a project that’s been haunting you is one of the best feelings around. Enjoy what you’ve achieved and know that the next time you set out to finish a project that it will be less stressful and more enjoyable.