If your to do list is getting longer than the Five Books of Moses, this technique will save you time and headaches.
Finish The Job
End what you begin, or you begin your end
With corporate downsizing and the need to impress, your to do list is constantly growing. There are many tricks out there to help you shorten it, but I’m proposing the most obvious: Finish the Project! How many items on your to do list are in progress- you’re almost finished, but not quite? Finish projects after you start them.
Take this scenario: You’re buying a present for your significant other’s birthday. You don’t want a repeat of the “all I can find is dead flowers” incident. Being the thoughtful, productive person that you are, you’ve thought about exactly what you’ll get her since her last birthday. You’ve bought the present a month in advance. All you have to do is wrap it. The first two weeks you figure you still have time. Before you know it the day has arrived you need to scramble to find time to wrap it. So you look for the wrapping paper, but where is it- another five minutes before you find it. Scotch tape- where’d that go? Every step brings new obstacles..
Unfortunately this happens all the time- a project can’t be marked completed because a small detail isn’t accomplished. The solution is simple- complete the project while you are working on it.
Don’t Start Unless You Can Finish
There are always many cool projects you can take on. Don’t do it unless you know you can schedule time to see it through completion.
By finishing all projects that you start you will seem more reliable and capable in all aspects of your life.
photo credit: Hey Paul
I rarely procrastinate. My secret? Self discipline, the usual tricks plus I try to live by “do more of what you like and less of what you dont.” Let’s face it if you enjoy something you wont procrastinate on it. But there was one project that I just wouldn’t start. It was important and each day I’d find a bunch of other productive things to do but not this project. So I tried to figure out why I’m procrastinating. Is it because I don’t have time? That’s true but I never “have time” and accomplish plenty. Is it because I don’t enjoy it? No, because there are some parts of this project that I do enjoy. I couldn’t figure it out.
Then I had an epiphany- the project was just too big. I could start of course but there’s so many places to start from. You cant just do a project. Then I quickly spelled out each tasks. Some of which were fun others weren’t. Now I can just check off the items as I do it. There will be tasks I don’t enjoy as much but those are just individual tasks and I can reward my self with fun tasks after.
This isn’t a novel concept and is the basis behind Getting Things Done‘s Next Actions. Break down big projects into small actionable parts. Actionable means something you can do something about. For example, create web site isn’t a next action. You break it down into brainstorm site sections, design theme, design home page etc.
Next time you find yourself procrastinating ask yourself why.
I finally got started on my big project. Now you start on yours. Let me know why you were procrastinating and what you did to beat it.
Take Away: Find the reason you’re procrastinating and work around it.