How to Finish What You Start


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Do you have a list full of half-done projects?  Most people do.  We get going on something, get interrupted, and forget to go back, don’t have time, or just lose our motivation.  It’s especially difficult to finish what you start if you have young kids.  My 6-year-old came in while I was painting and told me there was something I just HAD to see… Do you know what was so important?  Poop.  It was poop.  Then she needed a snack and for me to turn on the tablet for her, she wanted to work on ABC Mouse, so I stayed and helped her… and before I knew it, it was time to make dinner, then bath time, then bedtime.

Sound familiar?  This used to happen all the time – and to be perfectly honest, it still happens occasionally – but I’ve found a few things that help me stay on track.

Tell the kids.  I used to respond to every request by my daughter, even when I was in the middle of something, because she was young and needed more assistance.  Honestly, I didn’t have to do that.  I was probably a bit too responsive, but hey, nobody’s perfect.  Lately I’ve started telling her in advance if I’m doing something that can’t be interrupted.  I make sure she has water and a snack if she wants it, then I go do my thing.  Of course emergencies come up, but they’re rare, and this works for regular days.

Set a realistic goal.  Let’s face it, painting an entire room in one day is not realistic for parents of young kids.  Instead I set daily goals that are more achievable and likely to happen.  These days, painting a room might not be possible, but you can do one wall.

Call in reinforcements.  If you have a spouse or co-parent you can trade off kid duties and project work.  That way work can continue, the kids are entertained (and monitored to make sure they’re not destroying the house), and more will get done.  This might be a good time to consider hiring a mother’s helper, too.  They can keep the kids busy while you focus on work.

Work off hours.  This is not my favorite option, but sometimes a mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do.  Try getting up early to do project work or working after the kids are in bed.  It might take longer because you’re only working for an hour or 2, but it will be uninterrupted time so it could be worth it just to finish what you start… if you can keep your eyes open.

Not an option.  Personally I prefer to work straight through until the job is done.  Of course, that’s just not where my life is at right now.  I find that when I stop I realize how tired I am or all the other things I could be doing (like watching HGTV) and I lose all motivation.  Now that I have forced breaks, I say to myself, “Not an option.”  Want to push off today’s work for tomorrow?  Not an option.  Want to take a nap instead of getting back to work?  Not an option.

It’s not always easy to get through tasks in a timely way, especially with young kids.  With small people who depend on you for survival around, you’re bound to get interrupted.  But that doesn’t mean you need to live with a half painted room, or a garage full of unfinished pallet projects.  Be prepared and set realistic expectations, and you’ll be able to finish what you start!

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