Working without Stop

Some people feel that they can only work on something from beginning to end. Once they start, they don’t stop until it’s done. At times, they may boast about how they work this way, too, pointing to excellent grades and beating out deadlines by the skin of their teeth.

However, working straight through a project can be a problem, too. Many other responsibilities are easily missed in the meantime. Projects with conflicting deadlines create impossible situations. Looming deadlines and all they might mean about the work and the person’s character loom as Damocles’ sword.  Not to mention, this style does not suit large projects like writing a book.

But for some, working from beginning to end is the only way they know how to work. At least partly, I believe there is a fear to stop in the middle. Reasons are plenty:

Fears of Saving

    1. Historically, you may have rarely returned to something that you once dropped. As a result, there can be many things you have dropped strewn about, confirming this feeling.
      • But, this is fine. Perhaps as you learn the skills of saving, those dropped projects may be addressed in time, whatever you decide to do with them.
    2. To responsibly stop working on something before it is done, means it must be saved. But, you may have never known what saving something means.
      • This is fine. Saving is a skill. And skills can be learned. Practice with the basics first. Take your time, but stay with the practice.
    3. You may worry you have never been successful with any form of practice.
      • Practice is a form of habit. You have habits, whether you recognize them or not. Habits are merely repeating actions.
    4. You may worry you have never sustained any meaningful habit or habit you have decided on.
      • You have learned to move, reach, and grab. History shows you have learned meaningful habit. Perhaps you have only forgotten how.
    5. You may worry that you will never be able to return to where you are.
      • Likely you won’t. Rivers are never stood in twice. But you may also return refreshed, with ideas that have been melding in the unconscious since last time you were with the work.

Feel free to add any fears to the comments below. We can consider them as well.

Saving Work

In the meantime, to save work, it is useful to:

  • Give yourself time (See also Being Productive – Module 4 – demo available). Be sure to consider the time you might allow yourself to work for now and set aside a healthy amount of it at the end for saving your work.
  • While saving your work, you’ll likely have thoughts about what to do next. That’s great. This is the time where your thoughts are most fresh. Write your thoughts down – either use the Inbox (Command-1) or a piece of paper.
  • When you’re done adding thoughts, go through them, putting them where they belong. Process them GTD-style. There’s no need to do anything unless it would be quick. Address the thoughts by writing as tasks to wherever they best belong, including a list of things to do for this project.
  • If you don’t have a list of things to do for this project create a project as needed. Use a dedicated piece of paper or Shift-Command-n if using OmniFocus.
  • Consider a next time to visit. Create a reminder or task for that time. Certainly, this may be a daunting step when there are many partially done, well-meant projects laying about. A solid task system would help, and you may not have that now. If that’s the case, think about this as one of the first steps in building one. Try to think about where your mind might be at that time you’d like to revisit the work and how you’d best be reminded. If you learn to save here, you’ll better learn to save whatever it is you’re up to when the reminder goes off.
  • Consider, is there anything else on your mind about this project? If yes, continue until nothing else about the project comes to mind. If not, you have now saved the project.

When you learn to set work aside and store the intention to return to it well, you begin to take charge of your interests and steer things towards where you want to go.