Write It Sideways

3 Steps to Overcoming ‘Almost Done’ Syndrome

This morning, I had an interesting conversation (read: argument) with my just-turned-2-year-old.

Me: “Time to change your diaper.”

My Son: “Mommy read my tiger book.”

Me: “We have to change your diaper, first. Then reading time.”

My Son: “Mommy read.”

Me: “Diaper time.”

My Son: “Later diaper time.”

Me: [Picks up toddler and puts him on change table.] “So, when are you going to learn to use the toilet?”

My Son: “Later.”

Later—An Insidious Word

We often think of procrastination as being something that keeps us from getting started. But, what about when procrastination doesn’t keep up from starting, but from finishing?

Getting to the point where you’re ‘almost done’ can be both thrilling and dangerous. Yes, you’re nearly there. You’ve come a long way. Now, all you have to do is put the final touches on that piece of writing (or whatever other project you’re working on). The thing is, you’re so close to being done, you just can’t get motivated.

Over Christmas, my husband and I got a bit lazy.

We’d over-exerted ourselves before Christmas—probably close to the point of burnout. My twin pregnancy had become a bit of a ticking time bomb: how much can we accomplish before our little angels are born?

But good food, good fellowship, the kids at home and hubby off work…those pressing projects that were almost done stayed almost done for a couple of weeks.

In the evening, when we’d usually be working or answering emails, we were watching television and saying things like, “We should really do some work.”

Later became the easier option.

Overcoming ‘Almost Done’ Syndrome

Thankfully, neither my husband or I are the type to let things linger too long. I’m happy to say we’ve now finished those things that were hanging over our heads.

Overcoming one’s urge to just let those projects sit and linger in their semi-complete states isn’t that difficult. Here are three steps to help you banish the word ‘later’ from your vocabulary:

1. Remind yourself how far you’ve come.

I needed to remind myself just how much I’d accomplished in the last six or eight months. Sometimes I forget I’ve written well over 100.000 words while carrying twins to nearly full-term and caring for two other children. I don’t have any reason to beat myself up. I just needed to finish. Finishing wasn’t optional.

When you’re at the end of a project, remind yourself how far you’ve come. Allow yourself to feel happy with your progress, because you’ve probably worked very hard on it. Maybe even too hard.

2. Set a S.M.A.R.T. goal for finishing the manuscript/project.

S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive.

After Christmas, I set a goal of having my eBook completed and available before the final month of my twin pregnancy. It was specific (finish the eBook), measurable (I’ll know it’s complete when I can send it out to the world), achievable (it was something I could absolutely do given my current circumstances), relevant (the book is relevant to both my personal and professional goals at this time), and time-sensitive (it needed to be finished before the final month of pregnancy).

Having one major S.M.A.R.T. goal to cover completing your project is a good way to focus on the finish line.

3. Visualize the finished product, and your final reward.

If your goal is to finish your novel, how will it feel to hold the complete manuscript? What emotions will you experience? Try imagining the weight of the actual pages in your hands. Think about how much more time you’ll have when you’re done. By visualizing the end product, you’ll put yourself in the frame of mind to finish.

Likewise, plan a reward for yourself for when you’ve achieved your goal. Is there something you’ve been wanting to buy? Somewhere you’ve been dying to go? Plan an appropriate and relevant reward for yourself to help with motivation.

Just Do It

You know how Nike says, “Just do it”?

In the end, finishing a project just comes down to that. You just have to pick yourself up and start.

Not the start-start, but the start of the end. (You get what I mean).

How do you motivate yourself to finish a piece of writing that’s almost done?