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How to Finish Something

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How to Finish Something


    Got any lingering projects that you just can’t seem to finish? Let me share 6 tips with you that can make the difference between finishing and floundering in the realm of good intentions.

    Use Time Blocking

    Set aside a block of time, from 30 minutes to 2 hours to work on a task or finish a portion of a larger project. Schedule the time and then keep that appointment as faithfully as you would any other. Time blocking can be especially effective on unpleasant jobs – you can look forward to the time block being over, but still make progress on the job.

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    Make it Fun!

    Ever heard this expression?

    “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

    Well, projects get done quicker when they are fun too! Find a way to make your task enjoyable, either by playing good music while you work or planning a fantastic reward for yourself. Or simply distract yourself from the yuckiness of the job using whatever means necessary. This step is critical in finishing something you’ve been procrastinating on! (You don’t feel like procrastinating on fun stuff.)

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    Renew Your Inspiration

    There must have been a reason you wanted to do this thing in the first place. Think again about **why** you wanted to do it, and how it contributes to the larger picture or goal that you have. It’s easy to lose sight of the inspiration that made you start, and it’s not hard to find that inspiration again. Reconnect with the **why** and you will feel more motivated to get going.

    Change Your Expectations

    Often, we get discouraged along the way because we think that this job shouldn’t have taken as long as it is… or we put ourselves down for taking so long… or we want it to be so perfect, we are paralyzed from doing anything. Change your expectations, and you will feel much better. So what if you are a little behind on your original plan? Maybe that plan was unrealistic. Start from where you are now with new inspiration and see what progress you can make. You might be surprised how smooth it goes!

    Finish One Thing at a Time

    We often get ourselves in trouble by trying to take on too many things at once. Pick one thing – the most important, not necessarily the most urgent – and focus on that until it is done. If you have no choice but to work on several things at once, use time blocking to divide your day.

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    Be Stubborn

    Sometimes, the only way to finish something is to simply get stubborn and keep at it until it’s done. This is a great strategy for things that take a long time, like finishing a degree or a thesis – just keep at it, and the results will be worth it!

    “There is a time in the life of every problem when it is big enough to see, yet small enough to solve.” – Mike Leavitt

    Bonus Tip: Give Yourself Permission Not to Finish

    Sometimes, we jump into things too quickly without realizing what we’re getting into. If you really, truly, do not want to finish that thing you’ve started, and absolutely can’t find any inspiration to finish or a way to make it fun, then give yourself permission to back out. There is nothing wrong with quitting when priorities have changed. Making the conscious decision to quit – don’t do it in a fit of frustration – can really help you clear out some mental clutter and refocus your energy toward something you feel inspired to do.

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    (Photo credit: Athlete Celebrating Victory via Shutterstock)

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    Teresa Griffith

    Teresa is a passionate writer who shares about productivity tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on October 21, 2021

    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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    How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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