5 tips on how to learn to bring any task you start to completion

How to finish what you start

“If you’ve done the job, go for a walk with confidence,” these words were repeated to many of us by our parents since childhood. However, our collection of unfinished tasks is constantly being replenished with new ones. However, it is unlikely that there is a person in the world, even the most intelligent one, who does not have “tails” of planned but not carried out deeds “hanging over his soul.”

We promise ourselves to submit a report on time, learn a new language, go jogging, and finally finish reading books that are specially placed in a visible place so as not to forget about them. And this is not a complete list of things that we have started but not finished, or that we have not even started yet. And everyone probably has a similar list.

Hoping to finally get rid of such a burden with the help of higher powers, some write New Year's notes listing their tasks for the next year and put them under the tree or burn them. But firm promises to start “from the new year”, “from the first day”, “from tomorrow” help few people. Most likely, no one.

What prevents us from parting with the heap of unfinished business? There must be some solutions that will bring us closer to the goal and make this path not so difficult?

Of course, with the wave of a magic wand, thanks to a goldfish, or “at the behest of a pike, according to my desire,” things are done only in fairy tales. When we make a list of things we need to do and then cross them off as we're ready, we structure our plans and present them more clearly. And this makes a certain sense. But then, as the song says, “everything is in your hands.”

Perhaps the following tips will be useful to someone.

Adequately assess your capabilities and move towards your goal in small steps

When we take on new things, we feel uplifted and inspired. We are full of strength, ideas, and enthusiasm, so we cannot always adequately estimate how much time a project will require. There is a risk of forgetting about such annoying obstacles as fatigue, illness, family and domestic problems, bad mood and low performance, and setting yourself completely unrealistic deadlines.

For example, you are learning English and want to improve your knowledge by one level. This takes Guided learning hours on average 200 hours. At first, when you are full of enthusiasm, you may think that you are ready to study for 3 hours a day and can achieve your goal in one and a half to two months.

In reality, this most likely will not work.

You will become frustrated, lose motivation, and study will become much more difficult. And to prevent this from happening, divide the work into several stages and set reasonable deadlines for each of them. It’s better to take plenty of time and reach your goal early.

Follow Apple's lead

In one of my favorite TED talks, Simon Sinek explains that world leaders who inspire others by example do things differently than most people and companies. They start not with what and how they do, but explain why they do what they do.

Starting with “why” directly addresses the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls behavior and decision making.

Before starting a new project, try to understand why you are taking on it. Dig deeper, don't settle for superficial answers. The more significant the reason, the higher the likelihood that you will finish what you started rather than quitting halfway.

For example, Apple's success is not that their products are much better than their competitors. They simply know how to clearly convey their mission to the audience, while questioning the existing status quo and thinking outside the norm. I think this is the secret of why people prefer Apple.

By following Apple's example, we learn to understand the reasons that motivate us to act and learn to control our behavior.

Give yourself a deadline and a reward.

Tim Urban, author of a blog about procrastination, suggested in his acclaimed TED talk that there are two types of procrastination. The first one is turned on during work projects that have a clear deadline. We can put things off for a long time, but at the last moment we still get down to work and complete it - if only because we are afraid of losing money or respect.

The second type concerns mainly personal projects that do not have a deadline. Get a second degree, change jobs, learn a language, lose weight - we just can’t get our hands on these and other wonderful goals. This type of procrastination is more insidious because without a deadline, fear does not kick in and finishing what we started (and sometimes even just starting) can be very difficult.

Therefore, if you are working on a personal project and you are not motivated by the promise of income or the fear of losing your job, be sure to set yourself a deadline.

According to psychologist Piers Steele's INTEGRATING THEORIES OF MOTIVATION theory of temporal motivation, deadlines are one of the four pillars that help us stay motivated (the other three are confidence in success, reward and deadline sensitivity).

Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and economics, once conducted an experiment on Procrastination, deadlines and performance. He divided the students into groups and asked them to proofread an essay. The first group was given a week to complete this task, the second group was given three weeks, and the students from the third set their own deadline. Participants from the second group coped with the task worse than others and did not meet the deadlines, although they had enough time. But the third group showed good results and submitted their work ahead of schedule.

Anastasia Ivanova, an English teacher, in her book “How to Stop Learning a Foreign Language and Start Living in It,” advises to be sure to set deadlines for yourself and formulate goals correctly. For example: “In two months, I want to expand my vocabulary to 5,000 words and for this I will read two articles a week, write down new words and make sentences with them.” The same principle can be used with any other activity.

You've probably read a lot about dopamine: Dopamine: not just a neurotransmitter and how it makes us give up important and difficult things in favor of momentary joys. To trick the dopamine system, you need to trick your brain into believing that work, school, sports, or creativity bring you as much joy as cat videos.

And to do this, you need to assign yourself a reward for each completed stage of the project. It could be just a tick in your diary, an episode of your favorite TV series, a chocolate bar, or a small pleasant purchase. In addition, you can keep a success diary and tell yourself how great you are.

We don’t let anyone in on our plans.

There is an opinion that, having conceived some business, we should inform our close friends about it. As if this will allow us not to stop halfway, because otherwise we will be ashamed in front of them. Perhaps for some, the desire to share their plans works.

However, there is also the opposite opinion: the voiced desires are not destined to come true. The saying goes about the same thing: “If you want to make God laugh, tell us about your plans.” Many have noticed: as soon as you let someone in on your plans, everything goes awry. We become uninterested, things lose their former meaning for us, and we no longer make efforts to finally finish what we started.

This phenomenon has interested psychologists. In particular, Vera Mahler, after a series of experiments, came to the conclusion that our brain perceives voiced plans as an already accomplished reality. Therefore, in order not to abandon the matter halfway, it is better to keep your plans to yourself. “Don’t talk about your plans if you still hope to fulfill them,” psychologists say.

Find inspiration and go on creative dates

Motivation and desire to work need to be fueled. One way is to completely immerse yourself in an inspiring atmosphere, surrounding yourself with films, books and ideas that stimulate your imagination, excite you and create a burning desire to get to work immediately.

If you are thinking over a plan to promote a product or service, watch how competitors do it, read books about advertising, study successful cases. If you're writing a fantasy novel, look for books and movies with similar settings. If you are learning a foreign language, read blogs of other students, be inspired by positive examples, join language chats and groups.

Julia Cameron in her book “The Artist’s Way” advises going on so-called creative dates. This is the time that you devote to yourself: doing what fills you with strength, inspiration, ideas. This could be a trip to a museum, clay modeling or embroidery, or a trip to nature.

Remember the 72-hour rule

In accordance with this rule, if we have not brought a new idea to life within 72 hours, we will never do it .

Do we really need to do that thing that we have come up with for ourselves, but for which we have no soul? Maybe we don’t need this language, this book, this sweater that takes three years to knit, this sport? Maybe cross them off your list of unfinished tasks and not suffer, doing something that is really interesting?

© Elena Timoshenko, BBF.RU

Get rid of time wasters and take breaks

By scattering attention and being distracted, we spend much more time and energy than if we worked concentratedly. In the Even Small Distractions Derail Productivity experiment, students were divided into two groups and asked to write an essay. Participants from the first group were constantly distracted, and as a result, they coped with the task much worse than the subjects from the second group, who worked quietly. Scientists have found in This Is Nuts: It Takes Nearly 30 Minutes to Refocus After You Get Distracted that the average person takes 23 minutes to concentrate on work after being distracted or interrupted.

Therefore, it is important from the very beginning to identify the triggers that take away your attention: social networks, games, endless smoke breaks or tea parties.

Use services that block distracting apps or websites. And to concentrate, set a timer and promise yourself not to stop working until it rings.

There are several techniques that help you focus on tasks. For example, the Pomodoro method: 25 minutes of work alternated with five minutes of rest. Or the 90/30 method: 30 minutes of rest after 90 minutes of work.

Taking regular breaks allows How Do Work Breaks Help Your Brain? 5 Surprising Answers to Avoid Burnout. increase motivation and productivity. But during vacation it’s better to do without smartphones and social networks - because of them you get even more tired.

Choose your pain wisely

Tony Robbins once said:

“The secret of success is to learn to use pain and pleasure, instead of being used by pain and pleasure. If you learn to do this, you will take control of your life. If not, life will control you.”

Most people fail to complete things because they see more pain in action than in inaction. But if you change your position and realize that inaction brings more suffering than work, you cannot help but complete it.

When you look at your projects from this perspective, everything changes. We know that the more difficult the task, the more satisfaction and rewards its completion will bring. But look even further - the harder the work and the greater the reward, the greater the harm of inaction.

Which brings up the next question: Do you want to live with the short-term discomfort of working hard for long-term satisfaction, or enjoy an easy job but experience constant regret?

Start from the end

You've probably divided the project into stages. If at any point you get stuck, try doing them interspersed rather than sequentially. To organize an event, you need a script, a room, artists and decorators. If work on the script is not progressing, you can stop and start looking for premises and contractors. And then return to the script again.

True, such liberties are not possible with every activity. The dissertation will have to be written in order: until the research is completed, it is impossible to conduct an analysis and draw conclusions.

Finding motivation

Not a single person will move if he does not know why he needs it. Someone noticed that people are motivated by two main factors: the desire to gain and the fear of losing .

When we can't bring ourselves to finish something, we think about the process . And he often makes us bored, if not disgusted. We internally resist because we don’t want to leave our usual comfort zone. It’s so cozy and warm in a chair in front of the TV or monitor screen with a sandwich - why get dressed and go out into the cold to go to the gym? Why dive into a boring report if you can do it tomorrow?

At these moments we should think not about the process, but about the result . If we submit the report on time, we will receive a bonus. Let's go for a run - we'll cheer up, our mood and complexion will improve. Let's go to the gym and get a slim figure and excellent athletic shape. Plus, the knowledge that we have overcome our weaknesses greatly increases self-esteem.

And vice versa, when a necessary but unfinished task hangs over us like a heavy burden, we feel our own weakness and lose self-respect.

Don't try to evaluate the outcome until the project is finished

There is a saying: “They don’t show a fool half his job.” Sometimes we ourselves act as these fools when we try to critically evaluate our work and compare ourselves with more successful people right in the process of work. As a result, we get irritated, lose faith in ourselves, and it becomes more difficult to complete the project.

There is an expression “Write drunk, edit sober”, which is also attributed to Hemingway.

Whether the writer said so or not is not so important: the idea is still a good one - to do the main work in a hurry, without looking back at the result. And criticism should only be included at the “editing” stage. And this, by the way, applies not only to creativity, but to almost any activity.

Use other people's experience

Ask for help, especially if you are trying to succeed in a previously unknown subject. For example, you are planning to master a language: you don’t need to worry and plan it yourself, it’s better to go to the teacher and discuss your learning plan with him (this is an important component on the path to success). Still, a specialist understands the issue better than you. And I repeat again: if it doesn’t work out, don’t give up on yourself. Use a different program, different pace, different teacher, etc.

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Get support

When working on large, long-term projects, it is very important to have someone to support you. Social approval not only increases productivity, but also has positive effects on health: for example, Social and Emotional Support and its Implications for Health reduces the risk of premature death.

It is very good if you have a friendly and supportive atmosphere in your team. Or you have a partner, friend or relative who is willing to listen and help. If you have neither one nor the other, do not hesitate to seek support outside: from psychotherapists, coaches, in professional communities.

Less sighs, more to do

Think less about “why is it working out for everyone, but not for me.” Do more! If you ask a successful person how he was able to achieve his goals, you will most likely hear the standard answer: “I work from morning to night, I get up early to get everything done.” There is only one conclusion: you need to work, and not sit on your butt and sigh.

Poor people. Attitudes that prevent you from earning more Read more

Correct goal setting

The most important thing is to correctly define your goals. First, decide what you want. Setting a goal according to all the rules should be formulated in a positive way, that is, not “I don’t want to smoke” or “I don’t use cigarettes,” but, for example, “I lead a healthy lifestyle and love my body.” The goal should be written down on paper. No point of application of force - no action. When a future, not yet realized goal is written down on paper and at least an approximate date is set, the resources to achieve it will come on their own. This is how the path to the goal begins. This does not mean that you need to sit and wait for the blessing of the universe when everything falls into your hands. Make an effort, see what positive changes, beyond your control, allow your dream to come true.

Change your idea of ​​success

By expecting a certain result from your project, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

Based on my work experience, I came to the following conclusion: there are many things that I cannot influence. For example, on people’s reaction to my articles, on their success. But I have the power to complete the text itself - and I focus on completing this task.

By publishing another blog post every Sunday, I am confident that I have succeeded. And, like any person, I hope that my article will be received positively. But at the same time, I make every effort not to equate myself and my self-esteem with the reaction that my publication will cause. It doesn't matter what the reviews are - bad or good. Otherwise I would not be able to finish a single article. The thought of possible failure is too destructive.

You must remember that you are not your work . Don't try to win every time you play. Failures are normal. Focus on what you can control and forget about everything else.


Every time you tell yourself, “Get the job done,” you plan to start your morning with a jog, learn a new language, play sports, quit smoking, start writing a book that will make you famous, and even get down to business the first few days with zeal. As a rule, for most turning points there are several reasons:

  • Monday;
  • New Year or birthday;
  • a difficult life situation, after which I wanted to start a new life.

This is how the first stage begins - with the decision to start all over again.

Why is quitting halfway bad?

In fact, the answer to this question is far from being as simple as it seems at first glance. Unfinished projects are not only lost profit, but also garbage for your mental space (let's call it that).

If you constantly throw unfinished ideas into it, they will accumulate and increase your dissatisfaction with yourself and the world around you. The feeling of incompleteness on many projects at once will eat you up and lead to unhealthy reflection.

Because of this, a person may encounter mental problems that will subsequently have to be thoroughly dealt with.

  • FAQs What is procrastination and how to deal with it: 12 main rules
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