Projects and tasks have a natural cadence and flow to them. There’s the excitement of getting started, the messy middle, and the conclusion. Somewhere around the messy middle (literally messy when the project involves organizing) it gets to be… not so fun. You’ve been knee deep for several hours, maybe the kids have been ignored and are vying for attention, our energy is zapped…who wants to push through, much less clean up? It doesn’t have to be that way! Here are 7 strategies that build your follow through muscles so you can finish what you start!
1. Break projects into smaller work packages.
Depending on the size of your project, it may be helpful to break it down into bite sized chunks that can each be accomplished – start to finish, in one session. This helps to prevent the fatigue that can set in when we try to do too much at once. You may only have 15 minutes to allocate to something. That’s ok! Choose to work on something that CAN be finished in that amount of time. Or, if it’s a larger project, do a little bit at a time, day after day. Schedule it in just like you would an outside appointment.
2. Identify and remove obstacles.
What typically prevents you from finishing something? Distraction? Fatigue? Boredom? Overwhelm? Underestimating how long something will take?
If distraction is the main culprit, proactively address this so it won’t be an issue. Keep your phone out of sight, find childcare for the kiddos, or choose a day that’s not too busy so you’ll be able to focus and prioritize this work.
3. Decide you will finish.
Decide you’re one of those people who follows through and finishes the job! Even if that doesn’t happen all the time, declaring it to be so puts you in the frame of mind to put distractions in their place. To enlist help if you need it. To look forward to celebrating at the finish line!
4. Take breaks and vary the work.
Your project may involve a significant amount of decision making along the way (decluttering, for example – deciding what stays and what goes). This can be taxing, so if you start to feel like calling in the towel, instead try to shift your focus to doing something else that you do have the energy for. If you’ve been accumulating a donate and sell pile, take a minute to do something mindless and run the donations to your car. Or, snap some pics of your items to sell. Then, more often than not, you’ll be re-energized to get back to what you were doing.
4. Do one project at a time.
Sometimes, the very fact that we are simultaneously trying to juggle multiple projects at once – each with its own challenges, opportunities, messes, budgets – can be overwhelming! Well, no wonder! Simplifying and focusing on just one at a time makes us more likely to finish what we start. Then, move on to the next thing.
5. Acknowledge progress.
You demo’d the cabinets? Good for you! It may look messy now, but you’re that much closer to your end goal. Recognize that. Notice it. You went to the store and purchased all your supplies? Fantastic! Acknowledge these micro goals and the part they play in making it to project completion.
6. Don’t compare.
Comparison is the thief of joy, right? You may be comparing to the Pinterest version, or even how you thought it should go, or how far along you thought you’d be by a certain point. We’re our own worst critic! Give yourself a break and know you’re doing your best. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and hopefully, when you’re done, you can adopt the perspective that, if nothing else, you persevered and learned something along the way.
7. Be realistic.
If this is a time of life for you where it’s difficult to carve out 5 min. of alone time, much less the necessary hours to allocate to a project, it’s ok to defer something to a later date. Or, if it’s a must have right now, determine what you can delegate or hire out. Another strategy would be to lengthen your timeline to account for slow and steady progress.
8. Keep your end goal in mind.
Sometime we’re simply weary as we inch toward the finish line. That’s a great time to keep in mind your why. There’s a reason you’ve been putting time, energy, and resources into something, right? Because it’s important to you! And, it’ll be worth it in the end!