Finish It

Title: Finish It

Quote: Winning relies on the ability to execute to completion ~ Mike Clark

Are you watching the Football World Cup?

Are you supporting a team?

Do you watch with waves of emotions as the ball flies back and forth over the 90 minutes?

With football world cup fever gripping nations, it seems a fitting sport to use as a classic illustration around one of the most important time optimisation strategies - Finish what you start. There is a simple reason why strikers get the most attention in football, and the highest salaries - it is the finish that counts. In a game of football, all the fancy footwork and ball skills amount to little less than entertainment if the ball does not cross the goal line.

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The same truth can be applied to the 24 hours you are blessed with every day.

Starting projects can be fun and exciting. New things stimulate our senses and allow our creative juices to flow, giving plenty of wonderful dopamine ‘hits’ to the brain. The process often involves lots of people, and ideas proliferate like pollen in summer time. However as time drags on, the shine diminishes and other enticing wonders beckon to our adventurous and curious hearts and minds. It is not just projects. The same can apply to routine tasks.

Ever started working on something and got it 97% complete when you look at your to-do list and think, “Well I know I can finish that and that other job really needs to be started…” Before you know it you are pushing through on the new task and get it to the 80% mark when another job demands you attention. That job gets to the 72% mark before you go back to the second task and move it from 80% done to 93% done.

The next job seems to magically arrive in front of you - you work flat tack and get this to 87% mark before your boss dumps a new project on you. Full steam ahead and maximum focus as you charge to do as much as you can before the weekend arrives. Friday 5 o’clock arrives and you are 92% done on this project.

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You stop and review the week. It has been crazy busy - manically busy would be a better description. You have poured heart body and soul into your work. What do you have to show for it? NOTHING! Nothing is finished.

Can you relate to this trap?

Psychologically this is a recipe for stress burnout. There is all the work and no reward. No sigh of relief at a job finished, no whoop of joy and triumph, no high fives, no dopamine hit. The “cure” lies in one of the oldest Time management stories. When Charles Schwab asked Ivy Lee to help him his recommendation was simply this: “Pick the most important thing that you know you have to do and work on this until you are finished or, at the very least, you have done as much as you are able to do. Then review your to-do list and pick the next most important thing and work on that until you are finished.”

Finish what you start is reflected in the OHIO method: “Only Handle It Once”, it is even epitomised in the the very words that sums up the strategy: FOCUS - “Follow One Course Until Successful”.

What could you do with focusing on today? Give it a try - “ Pick your most important task and work on it until you are finished, or, at the very least, you have done as much as you are able to do.”

Here’s to your success!