How to easily finish up old projects

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I wrote this to share a way to easily finish up old projects. Old projects here refer to commitments that are 'completable' and do not have a strict, external deadline.

  1. Assess if the commitment now aligns with your priorities, and you are willing to invest time and effort into completing it.
  2. If yes, divide the goal or habit up into the smallest possible microtask, one requiring minimal time and effort.
  3. Set a goal to do the bare minimum of the microtask every day (e.g., write ANYTHING, watch ANY amount, etc.).
  4. Make it as easy as possible for yourself to get started (e.g., keep the links or relevant equipment on easy access).
  5. Systematize it by adding it to your daily reminders, task manager, or calendar.
  6. Remind yourself in that reminder/task/calendar event this task is contributing to your goal, and all you have to invest is a minute of your time a day.

This is not the fastest method, but will ensure steady progress towards completion.

It'll work especially well for commitments that are:

  1. not inherently enjoyable, and,
  2. difficult to make enjoyable.

With minimal commitment and minimal friction, you'll find it easy to get started, and that's the hardest part. With minimal commitment, you'll find it easy to continue.

An old commitment bugged my mind recently. It's a self-learning course I put a halt to last year as it didn't align with my immediate priorities, and I wasn't willing to diverge time away from more important and urgent tasks.

My recent review narrowed my focuses down to a few high-priority goals, and changes related to COVID-19 freed up a good portion of my time.

I found it appropriate for me to finish the course.

To prevent myself from burning out or stopping because I can't be bothered:

  • I've set a daily goal to watch a single section of the course every day (with each just being a few minutes), and for no more than 10 minutes a day in case it's a longer section, minimizing the commitment. (This translates to just ~2-3 minutes a day if I watch it on x2-3 speed.) This made it easy to get started and to quickly get it out of the way every day.
  • I've added it as a recurring task in my task manager, systematizing it and removing the need to consider whether I want to do it or not, reducing decision fatigue.
  • I left the link to the videos in the task description, just a click away, making it easy to get started, reducing friction.

This daily task is borderline impossible for me to miss or want to miss. It's too easy to complete and check off my task manager. And that's a good thing.

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