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From False Starts to Focused Finishes

The past few weeks my emotional distractions have been high and my productivity has been low.

I keep thinking about the things I want to accomplish. I’ve made plans to get these things done, but for a variety of reasons, I haven’t started and completed much. I’m currently experiencing what I like to call “false starts.” Do you know what those are? It’s the start that has great energy and intention until you actually begin. You start strong but never finish. Before you know it you’re getting up from your project to start some laundry, checking to see what your husband is doing, going to get a snack, or on social media scrolling through the latest timeline shares. Oh, wait. Did I just throw myself under the bus? Well if I did, I know that some of you are under here with me. We have all had our share of “false starts.” The good news is, a change is possible if we change our strategy.

Do you believe that you have to accomplish numerous things each day to qualify as accomplished, productive, or important? If so, you are not alone.

The pressure to do and be all things can keep you stuck at the starting line. It can lead to you feeling overwhelmed by the day-to-day race toward task completion. This idea of having to do it all is keeping some of us from even starting. The reason is that our minds get overrun by the list. The sprint becomes a marathon and therefore we may quit because we don’t feel equipped with enough time, support, resources, energy, creativity, and so on.

Today let’s explore briefly, how deciding to START and FINISH just ONE THING, can speed up your productivity.

Start with a plan for your day.

What’s on your to-do list? If it helps, break your day up into sections to maximize your time management and enhance the visual. A morning, afternoon, and evening breakdown may be more helpful for some. Once you have your list, now we can move on to the tips.

Here are a few tips for avoiding false starts:

Tip 1 | Limit your list to no more than 10 tasks. If you’re making your list according to time of day, this still applies for the entire day. Keeping the list short and realistic increases the odds of completion. It also encourages you to prioritize your needs and goals for the day.

Tip 2 | Structure your list. You can do this in one of two ways, depending on your energy and needs.

  1. Create a list based on priority items. The most important or time-sensitive tasks first and the least important tasks last. The most critical job or chore gets numbered as (1) and so on.

OR

  1. Create a list based on ease of completion. The easiest and least time-consuming task is first. Use the same numbering system.

Tip 3 | Now that you have your list, START with ONE THING. I get it, how can you focus on just ONE THING when everything on the list is important. Everything on the list may be important, but everything is not a PRIORITY. Choose the one thing you want to start with. It can be as simple as making your bed or sending one email, or a project that will take a few hours to complete because it’s a high priority. Look at your list…and choose.

Tip 4 | Limit distractions. Work in a space that is quiet and equip with what you need to complete the task. Keep the television and your devices turned off. Resist the urge to check social media, or watch television as you work. Keep your mind focused on the lane of task completion.

Tip 5 | Ask for help. If you have duties that need to be done today and time is not on your side, ask your spouse, children, co-worker, business partner, or friend for help. If you’re in a position to do so, hire someone to help with cleaning the house, babysitting the children, or overseeing your online business activity so you can complete other goals.

Tip 6 | Have an accountability partner or group. This step is so helpful. By having people in your life who check in and encourage you to complete the race that you start, can make the difference between a false start or photo finish. Surround yourself with people who speak truth to your procrastination and empower you to keep going when you’re tempted to stop. Accountability is especially important for larger projects and ongoing personal and professional growth.

Tip 7 | Use the Pomodoro Method to increase your productivity. This is the method that I will be focusing on next week for a few workshops I have to complete.

  1. Pick a task

  2. Work on it for 25-minutes (set a timer)

  3. Take a 5-minute break

  4. Resume the task

  5. After 4-pomodoro cycles extend the break to 15-30 minutes

After reading this how do you feel?

My hope is that you feel better equipped to plan and complete your daily goals. That you feel empowered to get up, walk to the daily starting line of your life and succeed…one finish line at a time.

We often get so busy with our variety of ideas that we never finish. We get distracted by the planning and never take action. That pattern can end today if you decide, with me, to be a FINISHER of ONE THING at a time.

By the way, writing this blog post was ONE THING on my list. Guess what? I’m FINISHED.

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