Start Finishing by Charlie Gilkey

Whoever has tried accomplishing a task has known for sure how difficult it is to finish what was enthusiastically started. Or, how about those times when you end up starting way too many things in parallel without finishing anything that you had already started? 



Author : Charlie Gilkey
Originally Published : 2019
Publication :Penguin Press
Pages : 272
Genre(s) :-  Non-Fiction, Business, Time management, Project Management

We all know in the deepest recesses of our hearts, that exact moment when the brain slides down in its ascent but we just don’t acknowledge that it did. All we do is make excuses for that slide and that’s where you will find Charlie Gilkey standing beside you with that smirk, as though saying ‘Gotcha’! Charlie is the founder of the website ‘Productivity Flourishing’ that immensely helps change-makers through their planning and creativity. 

Things that matter

Maybe different for every person, but each one of us have and know the things that matter the most. Exercise, time for grooming, playing with kids, completing that online course you started or visiting parents back home, we all wait for that ‘right time’ to begin with. Gilkey shows us that one must start finishing each of these tasks. People find themselves toying with ideas on a daily basis but barely a few fructify. That’s because we just let them go, thinking we will get back at them someday, which never really comes. We look at these ideas as projects- cumbersome and tiring and hence they get relegated. Charlie calls this gap between intention and working on it as the air in the sandwich which needs to be filled. The five challenges that need to be overcome to fill that air are-

  • Competing priorities – “Action expresses priority”;
  • Head trash – General aspersions, doubts, self-limiting ideas and personal experiences, histories, and contexts, usually rooted in our childhood experiences; all form the trash accumulation. 
  • No realistic plan – getting an idea is one thing, having a concrete plan to execute it is another
  • Too few resources – “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are”; that way you take the first step towards finishing what you planned. 
  • Poor team alignment – we’re not communicating to our team what we want, need, and dream to be. Rather, we expect them to understand it automatically 

So then how do you begin that which you intend to finish?

Intention – Start with that one big idea you have and ask yourselves why, begin with the end in mind, and consider where you want your life to be in three years. Not starting on the right track results in creative constipation. 

Awareness – Know that which charges you and flares up your grey cells. Among the heap of ideas and intentions, knowing which one’s to pick and which one’s to prioritize eliminates the ones that drain you. 

Boundaries – Set Positive boundaries where you create space for something and also negative boundaries where you make space from something else by eliminating it. Chunking, linking and sequencing tasks helps to a great extent to create modular plans that are achievable. 

Courage – Too many times, it is the fear of the unknown and un-treaded path that keeps us from accomplishing great things. Take that first step, prepare and dive in. 

Discipline – All effort is a waste if we don’t stay the course through discipline. There will be things and naysayers who will drag you down, only if you allow them to. Weaving your project (that which you want to accomplish- like losing 5 kgs of weight in one month) into your day and never wavering from doing what it takes (like exercise, healthy eating) removes the burden of a chore. 

One can also make tasks fun by combining them, like listening to an audio book while jogging, playing with the kids to complete your daily quota of exercise, making calls as you fold laundry or planning work on the way to the school pick up.

How do you keep the sunshine?

Reward yourself for small wins and big victories. Give yourself a cheat day to savor food. Get a babysitter for that evening out. That way you will keep the momentum and avoid dreading that task again. One reward leaves the brain craving for more and you end up finishing what you started out. 

Key takeaways

  1. Accomplishing tasks, big or small, is all mind play. Tame your mind and see how it craves for more. But first, know what matters the most and focus on it
  2. Eliminate that which does not matter and conserve your time and energy
  3. Plan and then execute. The energy that you start out with needs to be maintained through sheer willpower and rewards
  4. Have deadlines for start and completion. When you know the boundaries, you will find the enthusiasm to complete 

Why I recommend this book

Because like you, I also have had hundreds of ideas just fizzle in the doldrums of being impossible to accomplish. Had I known how to tread this path through these small things, I would have been someplace else! No really, read the book if you find yourself procrastinating or lamenting for lack of time and drive. Creating modules of time and task helps in making things sound and feel fun to finish. And moreover, all great things always began small. 

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