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Finishing is Overrated

They say it’s about the journey, not the destination. That’s absolutely true. As we’re renovating my house right now, I’m starting to realize that the journey is way longer than the destination anyway — so better to have a good attitude about both and enjoy them!

This mantra can also be applied to our work life. Recently, I’ve become interested in working smarter not harder. After all, people are promoted and provided opportunities because they add value to the organization, not necessarily because they work harder than everyone else.

Like many folks, my job is multifaceted and I’m constantly working and balancing multiple projects and priorities. One  of the ways I’ve found to work smarter is to not worry so much about finishing something and to instead allot a specific amount of time to a project and work on it a little at a time. This is hard for me — I like to make to-do lists and check projects off as complete. If you’re like me, you make the to-do list the day before or the morning of and find it frustrating when you can’t check the task(s) you intended to accomplish that day because you got interrupted or because priorities shifted.

But, it’s not realistic that we constantly “finish” things and it’s frustrating when we set unrealistic goals. So to help with that, I’ve started allotting a certain amount of time to work on a specific project, and then I move on. Instead of checking off that I finished a certain task, I’m checking off the time I spent on it.

My to do list might look like this:

Or if my schedule is all over the place or I have several meetings that will most likely zap a lot of my creative energy, my to-do list for the day might look more like this:

Sometimes, all I need to do is think about a topic and then start to work on it the next day. For that type of task, my to-do list would possibly look more like this:

Organizing work like this allows me to check items off my to-do list, feel accomplished, avoid frustration and just overall be more productive and happy. Since I’ve been deploying this strategy, it’s drastically changed the way I work. Try this system and let me know how it goes for you. 

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