Are you doing half the job?

Photo by babasteve

This morning, my husband dragged the Christmas tree out to the back of the garden. He bought a beautiful Frasier fir this year and no one wanted it to be taken down. We placed it right inside my office sliding door so it could be seen through the glass from the living room but be enjoyed by my clients in the office too.

Yesterday, January 9, I took all the decorations off and put them in their box. I had him go through the box of lights and throw out the ones that don’t work so we don’t need to wonder next year which ones work and which don’t. I’m putting a reminder in Outlook in November to look for new lights.

The removal of the tree left needles everywhere and after a quick vacuum, it was tempting to quit until another time. But I knew that if I moved chairs around, there would be more needles. So I continued to vacuum the office until I had the job done.

There is the old adage, “Eat an elephant one bite at a time” which refers to breaking a task that you are avoiding down into manageable pieces. But sometimes the temptation is to assume it means you don’t have to finish what you start.

Our family is filled with remodeling contractors and you have heard the expression, “The shoemaker’s children have no shoes…” and others like it. Our house has been in a constant state of remodel since the day we moved in in March 1992.

The setbacks are for multiple reasons but I find myself annoyed by incomplete projects. For example, one of the decks outside my office the guys started replacing in 2009 still needs the railing installed but  the team can’t agree on what the railing should look like. No one uses that over the garage deck but still it is an undone project on the front of the house.

Sometimes we have this attitude at work and in our job search. We do half the job (or less than half) and don’t finish. Many of us struggle with this syndrome.

Let’s examine reasons we don’t finish projects:

  1. We get distracted by other things around us and don’t focus on completing a project.
  2. We think the job is too big — the elephant concept could help you there. Break it down into baby steps.
  3. We get interrupted. This morning as I was writing, a good friend called from the road as he was driving. Since we don’t talk often anymore, I stopped writing to touch base. This interruption was welcome and valued but too many interruptions make us unable to move forward with tasks at hand.
  4. We fail to start. This is the reason I wrote my “You have to START to finish” posts. It’s a reminder to me to start in various areas of my own life.

As you continue to move forward in 2011, look at your own half-done projects (or job search) and see if you can move forward to complete them.

In your job search, it will help you reach your goal of finding a new job or career much quicker and if you are already working, it will make you more valuable to your employer. If you are a small business owner, you will be more productive and profitable by completing what you start.


  1. Kiff Backhouse on January 10, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Very true. Sometimes, I find myself completely flummoxed by a big job – just too big to start so keep putting it off. And on the other hand, it’s very easy to get distracted from jobs (like job hunting or updating your CV) when there are so many other more attractive things to do …

    • Julie Walraven on January 10, 2011 at 11:32 am

      We put off those big jobs, Kiff, and yet they don’t go away and then we have other things that just keep getting pushed forward that would take 5 minutes if we would just do them. I’m working on it!

  2. Barb Poole on January 10, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Great inspiration, Julie! We all have things partially finished that bug us! This is very helpful!

    • Julie Walraven on January 10, 2011 at 11:33 am

      I think I have a mile of unfinished things out there… but I just will have to attack them one at a time!

  3. Barb Poole on January 10, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Yes, baby steps and focus is the way IMO! Go get em!

  4. Melissa Cooley on January 11, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Yes, finishing what has been started is so important! Half-finished projects do have a tendency to weigh a person down.

    At the same time, sometimes it is good to take a break to reflect on what has been completed and to determine how it may need to be tweaked to reach the final goal. Eating an elephant, after all, is a pretty large undertaking 🙂

    • Julie Walraven on January 11, 2011 at 1:59 pm

      Smiling, Melissa… very large undertaking, indeed. Somehow I feel surrounded by elephants lately…

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