Come to Order: Finish what you start

By Sue Becker | For The Bugle

What do piles of opened mail, bags of stuff in the trunk of your car waiting to be returned to the store, and opened but unprocessed emails in your inbox all have in common?

They’re all things that have been started but not completed. Uncompleted tasks can weigh us down as they nag at us and constantly remind us there’s more work to do. They can also reduce our self-confidence by reminding us that once again we’ve failed to finish what we’ve started.

Not only can unfinished tasks have a psychic cost, but they can have a financial cost as well. For example, an unfinished craft project can represent a huge financial investment. There’s not much return on investment when such a project is sitting in a heap waiting to be finished. Unprocessed mail can result in late fees on unpaid bills or overdraft charges from an un-reconciled bank account. Those bags of stuff waiting to go back to the store can be tying up a large amount of your cash.

If you want to overcome your habit of not finishing what you start it’s important to investigate why you tend not to finish things and then figure out what to do about it. Once you know what your challenge is, evaluate it and determine what you can do about it. For example, if fear is holding you back, evaluate the worst-case scenario. Maybe your anticipated outcome is worse than what’s realistic. See if you can get someone else’s input to help put things in perspective for you.

If you find a task or project overwhelming, ask yourself what is one small thing you can do to move forward. If you focus on just the very next thing you need to do you might find that the project is more manageable and that you’ll move it toward the finish line.

You may discover that you’re not committed to the project so you’re not motivated to finish it. For example, maybe once you started that quilt, you realized that you didn’t like the pattern or the fabric you’d chosen. Give yourself permission to recognize that you made a mistake in picking the pattern or fabric and then move on. Relieve yourself of the guilt of feeling like you have to finish it.

If time management is your challenge – you can’t finish one thing because you’re busy trying to get caught up on something else – you might find it helpful to get some time management coaching. An outside perspective can help you identify habits that are holding you back.

If boredom is preventing you from finishing things, find ways to overcome it. Use the time of day when your brain is most engaged to work on things you find boring. Play music, set a timer to challenge yourself or find someone to work with you to help move that unexciting task forward.

Here’s to your successful completion of the things that are hanging over your head and weighing you down.


Sue Becker is a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization who helps individuals and businesses discover the simplicity, harmony, and freedom of being organized and productive. She also speaks to companies and organizations about how to get organized and make the most of their time. Sue can be reached at or 630-724-1111.

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