3 Ways to Finish Your Writing Project Before the End of the Year

Are you dreading the new year? Still not finished with your book, article, or blog posts?

Here are 3 ways to overhaul your system, recommit, and finish before the year is done.

Step 1: Declutter your to-do list

Make a list of all things on your to-do list, everything you worry about, everything that’s unfinished.

Then, think about the one thing that must be done by the end of the year. Circle it.

If you feel that you can finish that, you can pick two more. These are your big 3 goals for the next 9 weeks. Put them on a post-it above your desk.

Everything else must be delegated, delayed, or deleted. Be brutal. Use my free Goal Filter tool to help you get rid of unwanted to-do’s.

For unavoidable admin, set aside one afternoon per week where you chip away at it. But promise yourself not to start your day with this.

Work on the big 3 goals first, and make them a priority every single day.

Step 2: Stop doing ‘dumb shit’

Go through last week’s calendar and identify low-value tasks, useless time-wasters, and hours where you simply avoided working on the ‘real’ thing.

What did you distract yourself with? Where did you spend your time? Most people don’t lack time, but they keep themselves busy with easier things because dopamine hits come faster, and the big projects can seem scary. My colleague Stephen Timoney calls this ‘dumb shit’.

Make a list of ‘dumb shit’ activities in your life (or call it something else, if you prefer) and hang it above your desk or save it on your phone. Every time you think of doing something like that, stop, and work on one of the big 3 goals instead.

My dumb shit list is:

  • Netflix
  • Email
  • Obsessing about planning but not actually working on my projects
  • Worrying
  • Youtube
  • Admin tasks that I could hand over to my assistant, but I want to ‘keep busy’
  • Doing too many courses, subscriptions, and programs

What’s on your list?

Step 3: Recommit to your big 3 and make a plan

Even when you go off track, you can always return and recommit to your goals.

Remember, only 3 big goals are allowed. And even that may not be realistic.

Look at your calendar and pick a date when you start your seasonal holiday. is it December 15th, or 24th? Be very clear on the day when you need to stop working and start buying gifts, traveling, or decorating the family home.

Then, look at your calendar and count out how many days of focus work you have for your most important goals (2–3 hours count as half a day; 4+ hours a full day) until that day. I personally also take weekends off, so that reduces my number as well.

How many days did you count?

Do you need to drop one of the big 3 goals?

Now, break each goal down into a weekly milestone that is quantifiable and add it as a deadline to your calendar.

If you collaborate with a coach, colleague, or team, share this plan with them and ask them to hold you accountable.

Finally, take pen and paper and write down the answer to: What’s the first step you have to take to start tomorrow?

Why it feels good

With these simple steps that take less than 15 minutes, you can reset your system.

Stop keeping ‘busy’ with a to-do list full of lesser goals.

Stop trying to ‘finish it all’ by Christmas.

Figure out what you REALLY want to get done by end of the year and break that down into manageable milestones.

I’ve just done that: I unsubscribed from a few services, made a clear plan, and contacted the right people to hold me accountable.

Suddenly, the rest of the year feels less rushed and more intentional!

Declutter your to-do list with my free Goal Filter tool.

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