1.12.2011

The Finisher (A Tip for Getting Things Done)

roses and snow 2
I am, by nature, a starter. I love concepting, strategizing and assessing big-picture goals. Give me a pen and notebook, and I can sketch out a multi-step plan to take over the world in 45 minutes or less.

Seriously, y’all should probably start hoping I will use my planning skills for good and not evil.

The problems start when it’s time to wrap a project. I snap my fingers and call for my assistant. Alas, no one appears. This is probably because I don’t actually have an assistant, unless you count my dog. He does not respond to snapping but will appear on cue for a dog treat.

So I hem, haw and procrastinate, and projects languish indefinitely, nested in my inbox like a snowdrift in Antarctica. That is -- eternally.

Obviously this calls for drastic measure. I needed a finisher, someone to push through the last couple of steps in a project that was complete all but for the fat lady singing. (Why does the lady have to be fat? I think I want my singing lady to be skinny, but I’d like her to bring me fattening snacks.)

Now, once a week The Finisher comes to my office. She’s amazing. She scans my to-do list, prioritizes the nearly-finished projects, and completes them with astonishing proficiency.

She knows she has only a few hours to knock out these projects, and it keeps her so very focused. Her job isn’t to concept a new branding campaign, her job is to edit the web site copy and send it to the client. She’s here to cross things off the list, not add to it.

Here’s a secret: I’m The Finisher.

I was forced to become The Finisher, and only slightly against my will. Because, you see, as much as I love concocting a new idea, I loathe in equal measure leaving tasks undone. Incompletes nibble at my conscience like squirrels on a carpet of acorns. They distract, leaving me feeling a bit frayed at the seams, and hemming things up is the only cure.

So I set aside one day a week and treat my task-oriented personality to a day of getting things done. I start with a plan, and refuse to be distracted. And while the creative process is one that delights, there is no comparison to the feeling of scratching a big to-do off one’s list.

Tell me, if you’re a starter, what are your tricks for balancing starting a project with completing it? If you’re a natural-born finisher, where do you draw inspiration to get a project started?

2 comments:

Amy Mac said...

Posting for a friend who sent this to my email ....

Girl, I need all the help I can get. I could fill up a room with unfinished projects! I never used to be a "non-completer," (is that a word?) until I had kids.
I always think I will get to it, and wind up distracted by something else! (I hate it!) Always love your helpful tips

Amy Mac said...

Posting for another email-

My word for the year is "NOW". "I will fold the clothes NOW!" "I will vacuum NOW!". "I will feed the cats NOW!". So far...so good!