I remember an English teacher I had in High School saying that stress is a direct result of unfinished projects in our lives. I agree. I love getting things done!
One of my favorite things in life is throwing something away (I'm still learning I need to ask my wife first, or finishing a project off a To Do List. I'm the kind of person who makes a list, checks it twice and even adds a project I've already finished just to check it off.
One of the core values of my life is focus and simplicity. Some of my goals in life are to live simply, have less clothes in my closet than most, eat simple and healthy foods, and the like.
This week I've been finishing some major projects and it feels great. I am finally moving forward on making our ministry a nonprofit. I've added some needed changes to our website. I'm making some progress on house renovations (we finished 90% of it in our first two months here, and sat on the last 10% for 2 years.
Finishing projects can do so much for us - it can lower our stress level, give us a sense of accomplishment, encourage us to move on to a new level of success in our lives and keep us from being diverted from our main sense of mission in our lives.
I think that there are a few things that have helped me through the years to stay on task and eliminate stress:
1. Make a List of projects to get done
Do your best to compile one list. Having several dozen post it notes can itself cause unnecessary stress. Make one list, with separate sections for the areas of your life covered. Keep this list and update it occasionally with a clean sheet.
2. Set a Completion Date
Whether it's a day of the upcoming week or a goal month, set a time line for each projects completion. This helps you to not carry the weight of future projects (they can be stored away for a later month), and keeps you on track with necessary tasks.
3. Simplify All Parts of Your Life
There's no need to live with clutter, stress and mistakes. Clear your desk, set a date and do spring cleaning. Finish important projects or set a completion date for them at a later time. Return phone calls and emails immediately to eliminate fearing you have not stayed in touch with your friends.
All these practices will ensure you life a simplified life and in a less stressed environment where more is possible.
Don't bottleneck progress. Bottlenecking happens when a CEO or manager in charge of a project requires everything and everyone to make decisions and progress through them.
If people are constantly in need of your help, and you have no time to help them all, consider the following:
When someone asks you for your opinion or decision regarding a project - ask them to do more research and come up with the best two or three decisions from which you will, at that later time, choose together the best option.
Don't say you will think about it or do some research. Always have others do your research and make a shorter list of options, and then return to them together at a later time.
In this way, you delegate projects to others, and free yourself to help more people.
5. Do it Now
This is likely the most important and least practiced part of finishing projects.
- If someone writes you an email, don't wait to reply - do it right away.
- If someone gives you a call, reply immediately.
- Don't leave projects up to your brain to remember, and hope you remember important tasks. Either write it down on your master list or take a minute and take care of it right away.
If you set a pattern of this in your life, you will begin to feel lighter, more capable and full of life.