“There is nothing so fatal to character as half-finished tasks.”~David Lloyd George
There are times when I realize my brain is going in a thousand different directions and has too many things to worry about. For me, unfinished projects take up a lot of mental real estate. My first step is deciding to schedule a couple of hours on a weeknight or a Saturday to get started on finishing one of the tasks weighing on my mind. I actually start to feel better as soon as I discipline myself enough to take this first planning step.
Get started by making a list of all the projects you have buzzing around in your brain – things you’d love to finish, but they haven’t been a priority yet. This list may include things like:
- Clean the garage
- Finish a sewing project
- Refinish a piece of furniture
- Complete a scrapbook
- Paint a room
- Write a book
- Finish and send off your taxes
- Restore an old car
- Organize the storage room
- Finish a painting
Prioritize your list, and then decide which ones are really worth finishing and which ones you’re willing to let go. Focus on completing the ones that are most important to you. Break the first project into doable chunks and motivate yourself by setting up a reward for accomplishing each chunk.
Beginning is the hardest part, so give yourself a rather large prize for just starting! Approaching unfinished projects in this way will have the effect of making you feel excited and motivated. Not only will you look forward to feeling a sense of completion, but you’ll anticipate the assigned incentives that come with each completed step along the way.
Make sure to tell people around you that you’ve decided to tackle a certain project. Actually, give them your projected date of completion in order to build in some accountability. Sometimes they will get so excited about what you’re doing that they’ll offer to help you!
I have a brother who loves to support me in accomplishing my long outstanding/overdue projects. One time he suggested that I write him a large check which he had permission to cash if I didn’t spend at least 15 minutes a day on a particularly hard goal I was working on. This heavy consequence really worked for me. There were several times that I forced myself to put in my 15 minutes of effort at 11:45pm. I wasn’t about to let him cash my check! (He knows that I have complete integrity and that if I ever I neglected to keep my commitment he would have a nice chunk of change. I also know that he would never cash the check without my permission). Whenever I’m really serious about completing something, he’s more than willing to support me in this way.
If you approach the things you’ve been procrastinating in this way, you’ll start to anticipate not only the accomplishment of your goal, but also the huge feeling of satisfaction that always comes upon completion.