If you are productive without harboring this intense desire for completion, you will end up justbeing busy. We all know the feeling. You work all day off of your to-do list. Everything isorganized. Everything is scheduled. Yet, still, months pass with no important projects gettingaccomplished.
In this post, I want to present a simple system, based on my observation of the highlyaccomplished, that will help you cultivate your own completion obsession.
Introducing Completion-Centric Planning
With traditional GTD-style methodology, during each day, you look at your current context andat your next action lists and choose what to do next. It’s easy, in this case, to fall into a
where you are consistently accomplishing little actions from your next action lists butmaking little progress toward completing the big projects. This is what I call theZeno’sParadox of Productivity. Give me any project, and I can fill days with easy, fun little tasks on the projectwithout ever finishing it.Here’s the reality:
Real accomplishments require really hard pushes.
GTD style, “oneindependent task at a time” productivity systems make it easy to avoid these pushes by insteaddoing a lot of little easy things.Completion-centric planning rectifies this problem. It refocuses you on
of projects —not tasks — as the central organizing principle for each day. It works as follows:
Setup: Construct a Project Page
Using a single-paged document in your favorite word processor, do the following:1.
Make an Active Projects List
List 6 - 12 of the most important projects in your life. Pull from all three relevant spheres:
(e.g., school or work related);
(e.g., home, family, fitness); and
(e.g., big projects like blogging, writing a book, starting a club).2.
Label Each Project With A Completion Criteria
To quote David Allen, to finish a project you must “know what done looks like.” Next toeach project type a concise description of what action must be completed for the projectto be completed. (When you do this, you’ll notice how easy it was for you before to think about projects in a much more ambiguous, impossible to complete style).3.
Label the Bottom Half of the Page as a “Holding Pen”
This is where you can jot down new projects that enter your life while you’re working onthe active projects. They can be stored here until you complete the current batch.
Example: My Current Project Page
Below is my current project page, just started, on October 12th. Excuse the wrinkles, I keep it inmy pocket all day: