Start ups get all the attention, but what about “finish ups?” Not so exciting, are they?
That exhilarating flush of newness, the brisk energy of beginnings, the dawning of a great idea. It’s a heady feeling starting something new.
When you start something, you know it’s going to be awesome.
But then, after a few weeks (or years), that new thing isn’t quite as awesome. It took more time than you thought. You couldn’t find the right person to help. You’ve lost interest. It’s irrelevant…out of date. What once had all your attention is now a long-unopened file on your desktop, or an outline that doesn’t make sense anymore, or a stripped piece of furniture with paint chips taped to it.
All incomplete projects are ugly because that’s when we stop; when it gets ugly. We run out of time, energy, money, inspiration or interest. Whatever it was that had us at hello is now ugly… the bloom is off the rose.
A lot of people — especially entrepreneurs — start things. That’s the easy part. Finishing takes endurance. Sticking with something through the ugly, tedious, difficult parts. That’s hard. That’s why fewer people finish things than start things.
If you’re like me, with a long list of half-finished projects and unfulfilled ideas, what can you do to finally cross some of those things off your list?
- Choose just one project to tackle.
- Dust it off. Bring it out in the open. Front and center, so ignoring it isn’t an option.
- Decide if it’s worth finishing. Seriously. Scrapping an idea that was great eons ago is a good way to finish it. Don’t resurrect something that doesn’t excite you anymore. Just kill it.
- Separate the remainder of the job into segments and order them. Be sure to think about the project in terms of the investment you’ve already made. At one time you had “First, second, and third” steps. Now you need “fourth, fifth, and last” steps. Make sure you visualize the last step, even if it seems obvious:
- Clicking the send button
- Putting the files away
- Moving furniture back into place… Identify that last step.
- If you need all hands on deck to finish, don’t pull anyone in on the project until you invest some time and energy in it again. Don’t talk about it until you’re engaged in it again. Stoke the fire in your own mind and heart so that you will exude that same convincing charisma when you bring it to light again. You can’t get anyone else pumped about it, unless you’re first.
- Assess how much time it will take to finish. Be reasonable, but push yourself. Don’t give yourself a month to clean out a drawer, for example. Give the project the respect it deserves. If it’s not somewhat demanding of your time, don’t bother with it at all.
- Now, schedule two minutes and re-start on it. Tell yourself you’ll work on it for two minutes. That’s all. Two minutes isn’t so much. The “two minute rule” is the tricky way productive people fool themselves into getting things done. The theory is that if you put two minutes into a task, you’re more than likely to just keep going until you’re done. Whether you’re a procrastinator or a non-finisher, the two minute rule is your inertia-buster.
That’s it. Seven steps. Now go finish something.