“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” — William James
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been spending the recent down-time by tackling some long-delayed personal projects. It has been delightful checking them off my to-do list.
Every project, however, leaves a few remaining tasks of a slightly different nature. For example, when I cleaned out the DVD cabinet under my television, there were some DVDs that I still needed to examine more closely, either in my computer or in the DVD player, before making a final decision about them. When I reviewed and renamed all of my digitized photos, I still needed to ensure that all rolls had been digitized, and then dispose of the negatives and the containers holding them.
Getting those final steps done can be anticlimactic and not nearly as exciting as getting started on a new project. I recently pushed myself to work on both of those dangling tasks because, as William James stated, it was fatiguing to have them hanging around.
I used two methods to push those projects over the finish line:
- Leaving the items in a pile on my desk. Having them there was a major irritant, so I took care of them just to make them go away!
- Adding the task to my to-do list. It took a few days before I got to it, but I kept it on my list until it got done.
Leaving a task unfinished poses several risks. One is that you won’t remember where you stopped; as a result, if you ever pick up the task again, you may have to start from the beginning. Another is that something important will be overlooked.
Having to stay at home for weeks on end is a unique opportunity to use the time wisely. My goal is to get several more projects done before life starts up again. And I will try to apply these lessons learned to making sure that the projects make it all the way over the finish line!