Sharing my learnings from the book, Start Finishing by Charlie Gilkey
Start Finishing by Charlie Gilkey
Everyone is buried by busywork, responsibility, distraction, and fatigue.
The joy-producing, difference-making ideas are waiting for when the time is right, when the current project is over, when they have a little more money, when the kids are grown, or when they get a more understanding boss. They are waiting for someday.
The trouble is someday never comes on its own.
Start Finishing presents a nine-step method for converting an idea into a project by addressing the challenges you’ll face and getting the project on a reality-based schedule.
- People thrive when they do the things that their own unique experience, knowledge, and perspective prepare them for. The author calls this doing best work.
- a project is anything that requires time, attention, and effort to complete – and life is full of them.
- best work projects – that is, projects that allow you to do your best work – create opportunities for you to thrive.
- A few challenges in particular get in the way of starting or completing best work projects.
- You can get distracted by competing priorities
- you often have to contend with head trash – the thoughts and ideas that tell you that you’re not capable of doing what you’ve set out to do
- you don’t have realistic plans for your projects, or you think you lack the necessary resources
- maybe the people around you don’t understand what you want to achieve and what you need to achieve it.
- tools for tackling the challenges
- Adopting certain qualities when you work will help you see your best work projects through
- by choosing to cultivate a quality, you can strengthen it and confidently face the hurdles you encounter while doing your best work.
- intention – Setting clear intentions for what you want to achieve makes it easier to develop realistic plans.
- awareness – helps you better understand yourself and the world around you
- establish boundaries – help you make time and space to work on your project.
- cultivating courage – you can face the various obstacles that come your way, like challenging head trash, or speaking up when you need help.
- Planning your project involves creating a SMART goal and a support network.
- The S stands for simple; your goal should be simple so that it’s easier to accomplish.
- The M refers to meaningful, because that kind of goal makes you more willing to put in the required work
- But however meaningful a goal is, you won’t get far without clear steps that make it actionable, and this is what the A stands for
- R for realistic means that you can access the necessary resources, such as tools and skills
- T for trackable points to clear markers of progress and completion
- Once you have a SMART goal, think about your success pack – the people who will help you achieve it.
- You need experienced and knowledgeable guides for advice or inspiration, and peers with whom you can share ideas and experiences.
- Your supporters, such as a friend who babysits to give you some time to focus, will contribute to the project or help you do the work
- your success pack includes the beneficiaries who will be positively affected by your project
- people often fail to do certain things because they don’t think they have enough time. And it’s easy to fall into this trap when it comes to best work projects. But here’s the thing about time: you’ll never find enough of it. Instead, you have to make it
- You start by dividing the project into activities that you can accomplish in hours, days, weeks, and months.
- To understand how to divide your project into time-based activities, imagine the project as a pyramid with five levels. The base of the pyramid consists of tasks you can complete within a day – what the author calls chunks. Above the base, you have activities that take weeks to complete, then months, quarters, and, finally, a year. The bigger a project is, the more parts it will consist of, and the longer it will take.
- Once you’ve divided the project into activities, you can connect them to a timescale. This will give you an indication of how long the project will take, allowing you to make space in your schedule.
- Look at your weekly schedule and carve out blocks of time dedicated to chunks of the project.
- Focus blocks are 1.5 to two hours, and are for solo work that pushes the project forward
- And because every project requires some admin to move it along, like making phone calls or planning, you need admin blocks of about 30 to 60 minutes each
- Activities that involve either collaborating with others or connecting with loved ones or your success pack fall into the category of social blocks.
- you should also rest and recharge. The last thing you want is for burnout to stop you in your tracks. This is why you should schedule one recovery block for every two focus or social blocks.
- you have to be aware of the things and events that can pop up and negatively affect your progress.
- Priorities, for one – For things you’re willing to do, it can be as simple as scheduling time. for those things you simply don’t want to do, it’s best to be clear. So avoid giving someone a reluctant “maybe” when they ask if you want to do something; instead, say no right away.
- different ways in which projects get stuck
- cascades, which happen when a project falls behind, causing other projects to slow down or even stop. The best way to handle these is by prioritizing the project causing the cascade as well as any projects that are important to complete. Then commit to fewer projects going forward. Limiting the number of projects also helps prevent logjams, which occur when you can’t finish anything on time because you have too many ongoing projects
- With tarpits, your project doesn’t just get stuck – it stays stuck. The longer this goes on, the more you’ll struggle to start working on the project again. The trick to getting out of a tarpit is to start moving and then keep moving. Break the chunks of the project into even smaller tasks, and commit to completing one in the next three days – and then work on it at least twice a week.
- Efficient strategies and schedules help you build momentum.
- batching or stacking tasks. Batching means doing similar tasks in one sitting. Stacking, on the other hand, saves time by combining different activities
- tasks you need to do but don’t really want to do. These are called frogs. And this is how you should handle project frogs – as soon as possible. Thinking about them for long only increases the stress and dread you feel, taking time and energy away from your project
- scheduling work at the right time. Scheduling important work for when you’re most alert and energized leads to easier and more consistent progress.
- creating a crumb trail at the end of each work session. This can be a note about your next step or a task that doesn’t require too much effort. If you make a habit of this, you won’t lose time or feel lost at the beginning of your work sessions.
- After completing your project, make time to recover, clean up, and learn from it (after-action review, or AAR)