Focus on the Finish

November 1, 2010

For better and for worse, I am a student of my own habits.

And, fortunately for me, I think I have a fairly good sense of objectivity as I analyze my strengths…and my weaknesses.

One of my greatest strengths is that I never lack for ideas.

A Model of Inefficiency

One of my greatest weaknesses is that I get many of those ideas 90% done…or 95% done…or 99% done…and I don’t finish them.

Worse yet is the time I spend “picking up” an unfinished project, getting myself back up to speed, taking it another few steps forward…and then putting it down again, knowing that I’ll be back to repeat this exercise in inefficiency at some point in the future.

Fortunately for me, over the years I’ve recognized this weakness, and I developed a simple work habit that has helped me to overcome this problem (this is similar to things I learned from the Dale Carnegie book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”).

It’s All About “The Finish”

I call this technique “Focus on the Finish.”

And it is very simple, but highly effective. Here’s the idea:

  • There is tremendous waste and inefficiency in starting, stopping and restarting projects…even relatively simple ones
  • You can easily spend 50% of your total time on a project taking it from 90% complete to finished
  • When you are nearing completion of a project, if at all possible, strike while the iron is hot and your focus is already on the task at hand
  • If you cannot finish the project – and this is often the case through no fault of your own – make sure to write yourself very detailed, complete notes so that you don’t spend a lot of time trying to refresh your memory when you do circle back to wrap things up
  • Perfection is often the enemy of efficiency. Of course, we should always do our best and put forth the strongest effort we can, but my experience has shown that it’s better to complete a project that is 90% “perfect” than it is to put off completing a project that might end up 95% perfect

Develop a killer instinct when it comes to “the finish.” And watch your productivity increase…


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6 Responses to Focus on the Finish

  1. Anonymous on November 1, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Great post Mike reminds me of Jason Fried of 37 Signals book Rework which I highly recommend.

    • Michael McClure on November 1, 2010 at 11:12 pm


      Thanks for the comment, my friend. I am not familiar with the book you referenced. I shall check it out!

      Keep #CRUSHING!


  2. walidmrealtor on November 2, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Good post Mike! I am reminded of my first art instructor who drilled this into me because of my pursuit of perfection and tendency to wait for “it”. Thanks for the refresher, my friend.

    • Michael McClure on November 30, 2010 at 4:35 pm


      Thanks for your support, my friend!

      Have a great holiday season…


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