The energy to start something seems to come far easier than the energy needed to finish. How many diets have you started? How many books have you yet to finish? What about those New Year’s resolutions? Effective leadership should be measurable. It is goal oriented and outcome driven. The ability to measure progress is critical. Visible movement toward the goal can provide the necessary motivation to complete the task, or at the very least serve to validate your efforts. Unfortunately, the lack of progress can be incredibly draining. It can radically undermine our success and achievement. Self actualization and self-fulfillment are universal needs that prove to be highly contagious. Once we complete a project, outperform our peers or conquer a challenge, we are already planning our next victory. So what impedes our progress? Why do so many great starts simply become poor finishes?
All too often, we have too many things competing for our time and energy. Better said, we have too many irons in the fire. The solution?
We have to learn to prioritize. Everything feels so urgent, but the ability to sift, sort, and settle on what is necessary now will prove to be invaluable. Prioritization has to do with establishing order. It is a facet of time management. Ask yourself: what can’t wait? What deadlines are fast approaching? Think through what may lend itself to the completion of your next task. You may find that one task may help complete another. Let’s say I have to write a blog and finish the next chapter of my new book. I may find that writing the blog first acts as a catalyst for the new chapter development. At times, it may be important to revisit your list of priorities to stay on top of deadlines and unforeseen circumstances. Additionally, if you have two tasks of equal importance, it may be better to complete the one that would take the least amount of time. This should relieve the pressure of overlapping tasks.
Once you have successfully prioritized your tasks, the next step is to organize. Organizing is essential to time management. Imagine the time lost due to poor preparation. Organization is really twofold. It requires that you not only have what you need to complete the task, but also that those things are arranged in a way to expedite completion. Organization requires forethought. Thinking through what you will need to complete your task will save time and energy later. In addition, it may be difficult to refocus your attention and regain momentum after stopping to retrieve a needed item. By making a list of those items needed to complete the task you are more likely to be organized and prepared to finish.
Finishing is not accidental or coincidental. It is by design and purposeful. Achieving any outcome is not an option. We have a target in mind. One key to finishing is by learning to celebrate progress along the way. This encourages and inspires us to stay committed. All too often, we wait and celebrate the outcome only. We miss opportunities to celebrate our growth and the disciplines we develop along the way. Finishing is not hard but it is planned and anticipated. Envision success, imagine how you will celebrate and take the necessary steps until you get there.
Prioritize, organize and finalize your way toward achievement. Effective leaders learn to motivate, manage, and master themselves. Finally, enlist the help of a friend for some additional accountability and remember if at first you don’t succeed…. Prioritize, organize and finalize!