Celebrate the finish line
by Jeff Davidson
One of the most powerful ways to take control of your time is to practice “completions.” Completions, simply put, are a method of segmenting your responsibilities into complete units so that you recognize when you finish a task or project. Completions give you a sense of closure and provide a mental and emotional break. They give you more energy as you move on. Conversely, running through tasks without completions makes you feel tired, weighed down and drained. Time flies by, yet you are no closer to finishing tasks than you were hours ago.
As an author, I acknowledge a completion each time I finish a chapter. As I finish each successive chapter, I gain energy to move on. However, I have found that when I’m working on four or five chapters at once—and none of them are completed—I feel as if I’ll never finish.
The happiest, most productive people are masters of completion. They are just as busy as everyone else, but those people have learned that by giving themselves completion, they reset their internal clocks and are ready to handle what’s next.
Example: A former client of mine, Olivia, used to turn in reports to clients on time, but she would wait to tie up the loose ends later, after she’d already started on other tasks. As a result, she always felt harried and behind. Eventually, she built time into her schedule to finalize all the details before she sent reports to her clients.
Now, she has the time to have her reports bound in a nice cover and to send them through the mail instead of via one-day courier service. She even calls clients a day before the reports arrive to let them know they’re coming. Olivia has compartmentalized and given herself completions for what she does. Now she is energized, uses her time more wisely and is also more successful with her work.
Of course, learning how to do that takes a little discipline, but it’s worth developing. Olivia realized that there were problems with the way she had been working. She wasn’t acknowledging the totality of the project. Before, when she had “finished” the report, she had not wrapped up all the loose ends. Now she builds in time and acknowledges all components of a project. So when she turns in a report, she is completely finished with it and can move to her next assignment with a clear mind and 100% focus.
Start operating as Olivia now does, and when you finish a project, you will be mentally clear. Completing a project will feel like a mini vacation. Follow these tips:
- Break large projects up into units. Focus on completing every task and finalizing every detail of one unit, before you move on to the next.
- Set a time frame for each unit. Estimate how much time you will need to complete each segment of a project. Some tasks take seconds to finish; others take years. Schedule deadlines for tasks to stay on track.
- Focus on one or two major completions to work toward at a time. If you do more than that, you will be pulled in too many directions at once, and you won’t reap the benefits of a full completion.
Jeff Davidson holds the registered trademark as “The Work-life Balance Expert®” and is author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living and The 60 Second Innovator. Learn more at www.breathingspace.com. Join him next month for the audio conference The Art—and the Payoff—of Doing One Thing at a Time.
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