Starting When You Finish-Create a Beginning to Find Time

Starting when you FinishStarting a project is often the most challenging step in moving toward a goal.

Whether you’re creating an info product, starting to write a book or special report, creating a business plan, working on your taxes … whatever it is, the first step can be difficult.  And we all know that if starting has you stymied, then you are basically stuck!

Starting with Small Steps is One Suggestion

In the past I’ve written here about the helpful tactic of starting with small steps by chunking your tasks down into bite-sized pieces.  This is one of the most powerful time tools you can adopt – and once you start using it, I think you’ll be amazed at how small those bites can get!

I recently had a very interesting dialogue with Solo-E CEO Terri Zwierzynski about some time challenges she was mulling over.  (You can read the exchange here.)  We ended up discussing ways to find a balance between discipline/productivity/focus and exploration/creativity/flexibility.

When do you let go of a planned activity to pursue a creative spark?  When do you choose to jot down a note, and pursue an idea later?  These time choices are important.  We make them constantly, and quite often subconsciously – and they are crucial in shaping our days.

So, it was a fascinating exchange, and it left me thinking more about moving from one project to another – and how to make those transitions as smooth and efficient as possible.

Ending and Starting

TS Eliot famously wrote, in the last line of Quartet #2 (East Coker) of his “Four Quartets”:

In my end is my beginning.

He also said: “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”

Without becoming too esoteric, I’d like to suggest that this is a very useful concept when thinking about time and time management. That’s because beginnings and endings, starting places and stopping points, all mark time boundaries.  They are places of picking up and letting go.

Breaking it down to its most basic component, you could think of these processes as like in-breaths and out-breaths.

Starting with an Ending

So, thinking about the end of a project as the starting point of another helps keep things moving for you. The rhythm continues … inhalation follows exhalation … picking up follows letting go.

And to put this into practice, what I suggest is that, when you complete a project you do 3 things:

  • Validate your accomplishment.  This is vital and energizing – and you deserve it!
  • Scan and prioritize your to do list. Once you’ve celebrated your accomplishment, it’s important to think about what’s next. (Don’t take this step if you’ve skipped the first one – you’ll end up feeling depleted and victimized.)
  • Create a starting place for your next project.  Do just enough to give yourself a place to begin on your next big goal.  I don’t suggest that you go too far with this, because you’ve just finished something big and may not have the energy or focus to really start working. But doing enough to know where you want to start will save you lots of time and energy when you’re ready to dive in.

What do you do when you finish a big project?  How do you keep your momentum going and find the balance you need in your working day?  I’d love to hear!

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  1. Paula, I love how you wove in T.S. Eliot’s verse to show the universality life’s circles and spirals. And I also appreciate how creating a place to start on your next project ties in with our ‘pointing ourselves in the right direction’. Now to put that idea to work!

  2. I tried something that is explained well on a video. – not by me.

    What I like about this is that it brings together the ideas of positive feelings and thoughts and feeling good about things that are not yet done – and that are actually the key to making what you do significant and meaningful. It invites mindfulness rather than denial of reality. I’d love to hear what others think of this.

    • Hi Hehadahat! 😉 Thank you for sharing the video. I am a strong believer in the power of mindfulness. And I love the idea of pull motivation. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. As someone employed full time, who is also a long distance caregiver to an elderly mother in law also battling cancer and her disabled son, I tend to lurch from one project to another. I have never, ever, thought about praising myself when I successfully complete something. My definition of success simply means “I did the best I could even if I wasn’t totally successful.” Focus is a real problem for me because there is so much going on.

    • Hi Alana – It certainly sounds like you have a full plate – and a LOT to validate yourself for. I hope that you find time to incorporate some self-praise into your life – as well as some self-care so that you can be available and present to all that you need to do!

  4. I love the focus on creativity to ensure I’m focusing on the playful energy to “get it done.” It also invites a shift to making sure “it” is calling. Thanks for the tips!

  5. Sophie Bowns says

    This was really helpful! Thank you!

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