How to Finish a Task!

in Organizing, Time & Life Management
How to Finish a Task!

Are you someone who starts a whole bunch of projects and tasks yet rarely finish any of them? You are in excellent company! A huge percentage (89% according to a study shared in the Huffington Post) of business people don’t finish their task list.  Starting things and not getting back to them often is a result of procrastination, excessive distractions, poor planning, or simply a lack of desire. Maybe the task lost its allure along the way and you just don’t care about it anymore. That could be a problem – or maybe a sign that perhaps it didn’t need to get started in the first place. Whatever the actual reason for not finishing what you started, it can leave you feeling frustrated, overwhelmed (particularly if you have several things left undone), and even a bit like a failure. If you don’t finish tasks at work repeatedly, it could even cost you your job. 

Finishing what we start is necessary for most things in our adult lives: We might be paid only after a job is complete; filing taxes (I know – daunting!)…you get the picture. Less important tasks may not have much value in their completion, so that may have less impact on your life. If, however, you are unable to get yourself to complete the important tasks, then this will require some effort to overcome. Exercising that ‘mindset muscle’ of pushing past the resistance can take some concerted effort – but I have some ideas that should help.

Allow me to share some techniques to help you finish what you started:

  1. Find an accountability partner – someone who will check up on your progress to make sure you are getting the tasks done. Yes, get someone to ‘nag’ you.
  2. Schedule in your calendar an allocated time for the project – then stick to it. (Employ suggestion #1 if you need to).
  3. Stop overthinking it. We often think about a task so much that we make it more ominous than it ever was, or is. If you really assess a task, you may determine it will take only a few minutes to complete it versus the many hours your mind has conjured up believing that it will take.
  4. Know your “why” – if you know WHY you are doing something, and if that reason is important to you, chances are you will be more motivated to do it.
  5. Give yourself a reward AFTER you do the task. If you need an incentive – well, then pick one and get stuff done! Food rewards may not be the best option, BTW, just sayin’.
  6. Deal with any fear lingering in the recesses of your mind. Are you afraid of someone’s opinion of the project you are supposed to complete? Are you afraid it will not measure up once done and you will have wasted your time? Write out the worst-case scenario and see if it is really as bad as you are worried it will be. Chances are you have made it worse in your mind than it would ever be in reality. 

When a task just feels too big, breaking the remaining steps into smaller ones helps get it done. Do this particularly if you find you are getting stuck. The process of making progress, no matter how small, spurs us to continue forward more often than not – try this – it certainly won’t hurt! Start with something small and easy – even just making your bed (yes, that’s a thing). The satisfaction of doing something – anything – from start to finish has a positive psychological effect. We get those positive endorphins and want more of that feeling! Can you think of a situation in your life when you did something small and then got into the groove and did a whole lot more? I know when I start to clean a small area in my home, the next thing I know I have vacuumed all the carpets, and then washed all the floors…the satisfaction kept me energized. 

And how about this --- it you got to this sentence, you just finished reading an article! Gotcha! ;) Now go get busy on that task list!