How to finish what you have started

Finishing tasks and projects

Are you struggling to finish what you have started? You’re not the only one!

There are two types of people: those who cannot start and those who cannot finish. The first type cannot get started because they fear or don’t know how to begin and keep procrastinating. The second type may start easily and often have many projects going, but cannot finish. Yes, this is me too. This article gives some insight into self-management for those who cannot finish what they have started. 

Tips how to finish what you have started

Let’s look into ways to manage yourself and get better at completing tasks.

Steps to finishing what you start

Find your pattern

Look into why you drop what you’ve started. Is it because it became boring for you? Is the project too long? Do you need support from others to complete the task? Did you lose motivation?  Analyse why you didn’t complete projects in the past.

Impulse decision

Did you begin the work on the spur of the moment? Sometimes we get inspiration and get fascinated by a new idea, and jump into action too quickly. If this sounds like you, the way to manage your enthusiasm is to wait for two weeks for the emotions to cool down, and then decide if you want to pursue the new idea. Then test the idea before you get fully involved. 

Create a detailed project plan

Describe your work process step-by-step to have an action plan and focus on execution. This will help you avoid getting stuck and lose energy on deciding what’s next. Breaking down a bigger project into small chunks helps you track your progress and stay motivated. 

Celebrate small wins

This one is closely related to the previous one, but we often forget to celebrate our small achievements. That’s why I stress out how important it is to track your progress by appreciating the small wins to keep you motivated and happy. Notice the completion of small tasks and tick them off. Each time you finish a task your brain gets a dopamine shot, you can even get addicted to completing tasks! When you break down your project into small tasks, you increase the frequency of those dopamine shots, which increases your motivation and you simply feel better about yourself. 

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The pleasure of checking-off micro tasks

 

One thing at a time

Work on one project at a time to make sure you can finish what you have started and avoid disruptions. When you have more work in the pipeline, start a new project only after you’ve finished the previous one. 

Manage your energy

Remember to rest! You need at least one full day of rest every few days. If you struggle to stop, allocate the rest times when planning the project. Learn to manage your energy and know what helps you to maintain it. 

Keep it fresh

When things slow down and you run out of steam, look for inspiration. Consider attending a seminar, reading about the subject or talking to people to find new ideas and solutions for your project. 

Visualise the end

When you visualise ending the project you programme your mind to work towards that. Although this won’t get the work done for you, it will help you take action and increase your focus. 

Three more considerations when learning to finish what you have started

Fear of evaluation

One of the reasons for not finishing what you have started is the fear of being judged. If this is your case, find ways to overcome this fear. Sometimes just the realisation of the root problem may unblock your unconscious limitation and help you move towards completing what you have started. 

Aiming too high

Setting ambitious goals is great, but it may be intimidating and can block your progress. If you feel overwhelmed by the challenge, or the sheer size of the task, again try to break it down into smaller parts, which will feel achievable, and focus on one at a time. 

Decide if it’s still worth your energy

Being more intentional with what you start is one thing, but another one worth considering is whether the project is still viable. Is it still worth pursuing in your current situation? The circumstances may have changed since the time you started, and it may well be that you need to focus on other things now. Sometimes it may be about deciding on not completing what you’ve started and not feeling guilty about it. 

What are your ways in which you make sure you finish the projects you start? What helps you stay on track and get things done? Share your comments!

Books about finishing projects

Do It! or Ditch It: Turn Ideas Into Action and Make Decisions That Count 

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