For awhile now I’ve struggled with how to be more productive.
I’m “very busy all the time” (inside joke with you-know-who-you-are) but I don’t seem to get much done.
Well, I’ve realized that’s exactly the key idea: Get things done.
I get lots of projects to about 80% and then they languish as I jump to something else.
It’s a real problem!
But I’m onto something. I just know I’m on my way, I can feel it in my bones.
Here are a few things that helped me get my head around it. And if you’re reading this, you’ll know it works, because it means I finished this post. Hooray!
Not Finishing Sucks
When you don’t finish things, you’re not nearly as productive as you deserve to be considering how hard you work. All your efforts go to waste.
Not finishing things is a total time and energy suck, and in other ways too.
Things lay around and languish. They wither. They die. Pretty soon they become downright toxic. This not only sucks, it stinks.
Also, being in the middle of a lot of unfinished things weighs you down. It takes effort to carry them around with you. They’re in your energy field, whether you’re aware of them or not.
Lots of you are intuitives or are interested in improving your abilities. As an intuitive you really want to keep things alive and moving. Clean. Fresh. Clear. Sattwic. This is true internally and externally. Being in the middle of a lot of unfinished things is the opposite of that. It’s heavy and oppressive. Tamasic.
And not ever getting any payoff for your efforts is just downright depressing. Yes, even if you love the process. If you never get that extra little satisfaction of a job well done, you’ll be dragged down and probably discouraged sooner or later. It’s like running and running without ever getting to stop.
Finishing Provides a Wonderful Buzz
Literally, when you finish something, you can feel the freed-up energy buzzing around wondering what to do with itself.
It’s kind of like after a good run. If you just *stop*, you feel the blood gather in your legs because it’s still raring to go. It’s on a roll. It’s got momentum. It’s ready! Available for some more action. And let’s not forget the euphoria of a runner’s high.
Accomplishing something just feels really good in and of itself.
And if what you’ve just finished serves a purpose (which probably it does), you and possibly others get the benefit of whatever that project was intended for besides.
Big wins all around.
Now’s a Good Time to Finish
Today is the Summer Solstice where I live, and that’s what prompted this post.
In my last newsletter I mentioned briefly that today begins what’s known in jyotish as Dakshinayana, where darkness increases as the days begin to shorten, and it’s time to finish what was begun in the brightening part of the year.
It’s the Solar version of the waning part of a monthly Lunar cycle, and it lasts half a year.
Just like a gardener worth their salt wouldn’t plant seeds while the moon is waning, this isn’t the best half of the year to be starting new projects.
(Of course this is only true in the Northern hemisphere. You guys in the south, go get crackin’ on some new stuff and don’t waste your time reading this post… for 6 more months, anyway. )
If you pay attention you’ll notice that this feels natural. Right around New Year’s it’s easy to be enthused about starting new habits, new projects… same with spring. There’s a sense of newness in the air.
But now that summer is here, things are just kind of perking along. It’s not only a good time to be in maintenance mode but even better to work toward completion. Wrap it up.
And especially as we move toward fall, we will see things fall away, die off, get moved to the compost pile for new growth in the spring again.
6 months! This is a good chunk of time. You can finish up something substantial. Several things. Lots of things. Make a big difference. Free up lots of energy.
It’s kind of exciting!
Don’t Forget the Joy
Of course, finishing in and of itself isn’t the whole equation. Sometimes finishing things leaves you exhausted and depleted.
It’s important to notice that the things worth finishing (or maintaining/improving) are those things that bring joy to your heart.
That’s the sign you’re looking for. Those things will typically leave you feeling uplifted and sometimes even energized afterward. Needing some down-time is normal but it will feel healthy and balanced. You’ll feel satisfied and content.
If it doesn’t bring joy but it “needs” to be done, see if you can bring joy to the activity.
If you’ve made a commitment but don’t enjoy the activity, maybe you can find an aspect of it to enjoy, even if it’s the aspect of being honorable about it.
And if you can’t, maybe the way to finish it is to let it go. Redefine finished. Quit. Yes, quit it!
Only do it if it’s fun. If it’s not fun, make it fun. If you can’t make it fun, then don’t do it.
Peter Russell, physicist/philosopher as quoted in Danielle LaPorte’s Spark KIT
So do allow yourself to “finish up” or let go of whatever doesn’t serve your spirit. That alone will be a big weight off and free your energy for where it can be put to its best use.
What to Finish?
(I know, right about now you just want to finish this damn post, already. I hear ya. Me too. But I decided to enjoy slogging on. Really! Are we having fun yet?)
We’ve been talking about projects so far, but this idea goes for all kinds of things.
Start by doing a physical (you and your environment), mental, and emotional inventory. For the sake of brevity (catch the levity?), here are just a few things to look for:
• Any kind of unfinished business. This could be relationships that are just kind of hanging in your life and not serving anyone, intentions you have but haven’t acted on, lists you’ve had going for years with a little bit done on each item, etc.
• Anything on a list even if you haven’t started it; you’ve still got a piece of yourself invested in it.
• Decisions that you need to make but haven’t, maybe because you’re afraid to lose some potential. Just do it. Make a choice. Decide.
The word “decide” comes from the Latin decidere, to cut off. This is what you are doing when you decide, cutting away an option. So it’s true that energetically (and in other ways), you are closing a door. But that’s good. It often takes closing the old one for a new one to open.
• Old stories that you can benefit from letting go of.
• Old belief patterns, especially negative and limiting thoughts.
• Too many commitments.
• Judgements about situations, others and ourselves. Often based on old stuff. Often sub-conscious.
• Projections, especially paranoid ones that you let limit you. Often just under the surface.
• Resentments. This can be quite the project, but well worth it. Often we’re very aware of these but don’t want to take the time to clean them up.
• Negative associations (e.g. friendships or group activities that you down or just don’t work anymore.)
There are some patterns to watch for that one post just can’t do justice. There are books written on each of these. But just for the record, a few other things that are huge time and energy drains are:
• Clutter. Any kind of clutter qualifies (I love the book Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui by Karen Kingston. So practically helpful and inspiring. Gets you excited and off your butt.)
But especially clear out anything that feels bad. So, anything that brings up bad memories, even subtly, when you notice it. Or things that make you feel guilty because you’re neglecting them, things you don’t like, etc.
And don’t just put it away in a closet or garage. Get rid of it. Pass it on if you can to someone who will cherish or use it. Energetically, this creates space. The space itself feels great.
But watch out, the space may fill up fast. But please, not with new clutter! Let it be with something that supports your new interests in a positive way.
• Being and staying stuck.
• Bad habits.
• Allowing and even encouraging distractions.
Plus: Little Changes with Big Payoffs
• Expunge the habit of not finishing. Yes, this can be a habit.
Even with little things, like opening the mail and setting it down, setting dirty dishes in the sink, tossing your clothes on the bed, etc. I heard once that it’s good to handle everything only once. This doesn’t always make sense but in this case it’s a helpful thought to keep in mind and practice often.
It’s a little along the lines of finishing one thing before beginning another, but not exactly.
• Let go of perfectionism. This can be a biggie.
Haven’t we all been in that exhausting place where things have to be so perfect they’re never good enough to be done?
I know that for me, I have to let go of the idea that my posts have to be thorough and painfully organized. Writing a post often becomes a huge, sprawling, monster of a project (like this one) that I never finish (but will this time). And then I wonder why I have dozens of almost-finished posts laying around.
It’s time to learn to do a decently good job and call it done. It’s either that or nothing. Really!
Something’s got to change.
Slowly but surely, we can let go of some old rules.
So Now What?
I read an excellent post last week on write to done by Ali Luke of Aliventures. It’s called How to Finish What You Start: A Five-Step Plan for Writers and is about writing but could actually be applied to anything.
Her 5 steps are:
- Stop starting new projects
- Assess your current projects
- Choose one project to focus on
- Decide what “finished” will look like
- Set some milestones (and start hitting them)
There are a lot of helpful ideas in it, and you really should check it out.
Here are a few things I would add or emphasize, and where I would fit them in:
Before #1) Be motivated to finish.
Do this by knowing and acknowledging that finishing makes all the difference. Doing that last little bit gives you a lot of bang for your buck. It’s a “duh”, I know, but being conscious of this as something to make sure I do with every activity is critical in making this change.
Between #3 & #4) Consider why you avoid finishing each thing.
Sometimes we kid ourselves. We don’t realize we’re quitting; we think we’re setting something aside for now but then we never get back to it.
But why do you resist finishing it?
Acknowledge there may be (and probably is) some block you have about it, or that it is making you face. Looking at it will help you move through it to a new freedom on the other side.
See if you can NOT ignore, avoid, or try to get rid of your blocks. Instead, greet them, acknowledge them, embrace them, and most importantly: see or listen to what they have to say to you.
Whenever you do this, they’ll lose their substance as they transform into a gift that you then carry forward, walking right through where they used to be with your eyes wide open, and all the better for it.
For example, with my posts, I realize that every time I get a good way through I let my inner critic sabotage me. I can always find something wrong with what I’ve written. If I look at this consciously, I stand to gain much more than if I repeatedly bulldoze my way through them.
This way you grow instead of struggle.
Between #4 & #5) Dangle a carrot.
Keep in front of yourself not only the finished product and the benefits of it to you and others, but also how you’re going to feel when you’re finished.
Of course you’ll get/feel the benefit from whatever you finish, but you’ll also feel great just knowing you completed it. If you’re like me, that’s a big deal too!
And don’t forget, even if you’ve just launched something and you’ve yet to see how well it will do (this babe out in the world), it’s a milestone. Let yourself celebrate your milestones.
Are You With Me?
Just like how – at the beginning of this year — I jumped on the “one word” bandwagon (and I even still know what my word is, do you know yours?), I am committing right now that for the next 6 months I will keep this word in front of me:
Do you want to do this with me? We all know that support can help a lot, right?
If you want to join me, say so in the comments.
And if we get a decent number of us, we’ll come up with a Twitter hashtag and keep in touch there. Sound good?
[Thank you for sticking with me through this ridiculously long post. My longest yet, but there was no way I could NOT finish it, you know that, right? (But just think how good I must feel!)]
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