My dad always stressed the importance of following through with your actions. He instilled this in us with simple everyday tasks such as completing the sentence you are writing or word you are writing before moving away from your desk.
As a now-person (someone who needs to do something as the thought comes through), I find myself dropping everything that I’m doing to start another task that comes to mind. This is a habit I’ve had since I was young, and my mom labeled me with the nickname Wu Yiban (吳一半) because of it, Ms. Half-Ass.
One example of this bad habit I still have is in folding laundry. I’ll move through my day sometimes and find half-folded laundry on my couch. I had started the task, but decided half-way through that I want to vacuum, or cook, and I forget that I have laundry that needs to be folded and put away. With work, I’m often tempted to do something else before finishing everything I need to do for one specific client.
Every time I have the itch to do this, I hear my dad’s voice, reminding me to go back to finish the task. It’s such a simple habit but once exercised, shows focus and a type of discipline.
Small habits translate into how we manage larger tasks in life and even in the workplace. Following through is so important. This may be easy for many people, but for me, it’s something I am actively working to achieve every day.
But how do we improve our follow-through?
- One Thing At a Time
In our multifaceted world now where information and communication comes so easily, it’s easy to want to multi-task to do more things in less time. This used to be a strength I’d share in interviews, but in the last few years, I’ve changed my mindset. I realized that in my attempt to do so many things at once, I was unfocused and was not excelling at any of the tasks. The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results shares the science and impact of this. I’ve put it into practice at work and at home. By focusing on one thing at a time, I’m actually completing tasks and checking things off the box. I have fewer tabs open on my computer screen, creating more mental space and less stress for myself.
- Schedule Stopping Points
As someone who likes to jump from one thing to another, I’ve learned to keep track of the time it takes to complete certain things. I give myself a time frame, and once the time is up, I give myself permission to take a break. This way, I’m 100% focused for a specific time without distractions, allowing myself to be more productive and make more progress.
- Condense the To-Do Lists
There’s always going to be a million things that need to be done, and the list can go on and on, to a point that it becomes a busy list with no clear direction. I find myself at a loss for where to start.
Prioritizing the must-completes in a day and limiting them to 1–2 items gives me strength to tackle my list. It has made me you feel more successful and complete, giving me the confidence to move through the rest of my day or week with the smaller, less urgent tasks.
It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important when we try to do too many things at once. Follow-through with each task as you go forward and you’ll find that life isn’t so crazy and unmanageable after all.
Let me know your thoughts or share your strategies for daily success!