These tips from the 147 given by the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece have been rephrased to make them into actionable activities instead of recommended deeds to be completed. By phrasing them as actions it makes it possible to practice them in your mind and in preplanned practice situations. The goal is to form a habit that is automatic when the appropriate situation presents itself.
In our daily lives we are doing many different things and Sage tip #58, “Always finish in some way what you begin,” has value because if we have the habit of completing tasks then there won’t be half-finished things lying around that occupy space and attention. These things can not be put to the use for which they were intended when first working on the item. They must either be worked around, tossed aside or abandoned. That means they are cluttering up your mind and space and it is better to finish them to begin with.
For example, when doing yard work, which is a good example because it can never be finished, do whatever it is that can be done and put the tools away when it’s time to quit. The next opportunity you have to do some more yard work the previous task will be finished and you can begin the next bit of work that then needs doing. The same idea can be applied to studying school homework. Do a specific task to completion, and put a marker there. It could be at the end of a chapter, or a page, or a sentence, but the idea is to know exactly what has been completed so you know what you know and can move on to what is new and needs to be coped with.
When writing a book, or doing other creative projects, it is sometimes impossible to know when you are finished. Every time you come back to a job it seems possible to find new things that can be done to make an improvement, but it is a never-ending process. In the writing group which meets for two hours per week we have a specific process for choosing a verbal writers’ prompt and then we start a timer for forty-five minutes. I always watch the clock so I can do a bit of proofreading before the alarm goes off and I make a point of hitting SAVE when it does. I then go play ball with the house dog while the others struggle with finishing. Their task is more difficult because they don’t know when to quit and even fifteen minutes later they will still be struggling when I come back with a happy dog. You can see my results, which I post under the title Clockwork Purple.
At one time I wrote some standard sonnets such as – The Goal of Marriage. Sonnets are quite fixed in their structure, and like all writing, there are infinite possibilities for improvements, and yet with sonnets, because of the strict limitations, one gets locked into the simple fact that only some words will fit into the plan. Those limitations are actually helpful. Shakespeare was really good at writing sonnets early in his career and it no doubt made it easier for him to write his plays. The point of this post is that …
Putting voluntary limits on tasks will help you to complete them.