Charlie Gilkey on Start Finishing, Part 10

In his book, Start Finishing: How to go from idea to done, Charlie Gilkey discusses how we can follow a nine-step method to convert an idea into a project and get the project done via a reality-based schedule.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 10, Finish Strong

In this chapter, Charlie discusses how to conclude a project before jumping into the next project properly. He offers the following recommendations for us to think about:

  • Run a victory lap after the project. It is an important social activity that can rejuvenate our supporters and us.
  • Make the necessary space and time to transition between projects. The more project matters to us, the greater the need for downtime and transition time after finishing it.
  • Give ourselves CAT time, and it will make the next project easier because we will not be fighting the messes of our last project.
    • Clean up: First, make sense of what is around us regarding environmental, digital, and social factors.
    • Archive: Organize our environmental and digital stuff and store them in a way that can be retrieved without too much effort.
    • Trash: Throw away or delete environmental or digital stuff we no longer need for our next project.
  • After-action reviews (AARs) make every project a learning experience at the same time that they set you up for tremendous success in future projects. Ask ourselves:
    • What went well?
    • What setbacks, challenges, and missteps did we experience?
    • What did we learn?
    • What habits, practices, or routines do we want to keep doing going forward?
    • Were there any crucial difference-makers to the project that we should consider for our future projects?
  • Finishing a best-work project can unlock new realities. When it comes to our best work, we start finishing before success and after success. That is all there is to it and all there can ever be. Days spent doing our work compound to create a thriving life.

Charlie Gilkey on Start Finishing, Part 9

In his book, Start Finishing: How to go from idea to done, Charlie Gilkey discusses how we can follow a nine-step method to convert an idea into a project and get the project done via a reality-based schedule.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 9, Build Daily Momentum

In this chapter, Charlie discusses some tactics for building and maintaining momentum while we do our best work. He offers the following recommendations for us to think about:

  • Celebrate the small wins as we move things forward. Celebrating small chunks of progress can enable us to celebrate big finishes when we get there.
  • We should create habits and routines that make it easier to build and maintain momentum. Figure things out in advance can minimize decision fatigue and create more prolonged periods of flow.
  • Leaving crumb trails for projects makes getting back into projects more enjoyable and efficient. First, we need to leave ourselves enough time at the end of a focus block to leave breadcrumbs. Second, we need to be honest with ourselves that the momentum we have at the end of a focus block will not be there when we get back to the task.
  • We need to distinguish and minimize interruptions and distractions. Interruptions are external diversions that keep us from doing our best work, while distractions are internal diversions that we allow ourselves to experience.
  • There are three ways that a project gets stuck:
    • A project cascade happens when a project falling behind makes other projects fall behind.
    • A project logjam happens when we have too many concurrent projects.
    • A tarpit happens when a stuck project gets more stuck the longer it stays stuck.
  • The creative red zone is the last stretch of the project, where the closer we get to the finish line, the harder it is for us to cross the finish line. This feeling is the “Resistance” calling us. Here are some tactics for countering the “Resistance.”
    • Remind ourselves of the “why” of the project and double down on our effort to return to it.
    • Focus on getting the result good enough.
    • Remind ourselves that the more something matters, the better is it that we start finishing sooner.
    • Understand that toward the end; we are usually just working on our mindset.
    • Finally, do our work, then step away.

Charlie Gilkey on Start Finishing, Part 8

In his book, Start Finishing: How to go from idea to done, Charlie Gilkey discusses how we can follow a nine-step method to convert an idea into a project and get the project done via a reality-based schedule.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 8, Weave Your Project into Your Schedule

In this chapter, Charlie discusses the techniques to integrate our environments with the daily requirements demanded by our best work. He offers the following recommendations for us to think about:

  • Make sure our environment is working for us. Pay attention to these seven environmental factors and determine how they might affect us:
    • Sound
    • Smell
    • Sunlight
    • Clothing
    • Clutter/Organization
    • Amount of space
    • Music.
  • Batching and stacking are two techniques that can improve our efficiency.
    • Batching work is the process of doing similar kinds of work in a contiguous period.
    • Stacking work is the process of doing different but compatible kinds of work at the same time.
  • Keep the dread-to-work ratio down by dealing with the “Frogs.” Frogs are the tasks and chunks of projects that we do not want to do. However, we should consider addressing them early and often as necessary.
  • Focus more on the “when” rather than the “what.” Decide upfront when it is best to do particular work and stick to the schedule/plan.
  • First in priority doesn’t always mean first in the sequence. The key idea is to get to those high-priority tasks at the right time to complete the tasks in the most effective manner possible.
  • Use the 5/10/15 split to build daily momentum. We use our five projects to create and update our daily plan for ten minutes before we start and fifteen minutes at the end of our day.
  • Do not plan too far in advance. Doing so can create frustration and resignation because the further out we plan, the less likely our plan will be correct or practical.

Charlie Gilkey on Start Finishing, Part 7

In his book, Start Finishing: How to go from idea to done, Charlie Gilkey discusses how we can follow a nine-step method to convert an idea into a project and get the project done via a reality-based schedule.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 7, Keep Flying by Accounting for Drag Points

In this chapter, Charlie discusses learning how to recognize the drag points against our projects and developing ways to keep our momentum going. He offers the following recommendations for us to think about:

  • Drag points are the forces where reality will push against our project road map. For a project, people tend to be the dominant source of drag for our plans.
  • There are several no-win scenarios we often tell ourselves. Unfortunately, those scenarios keep us from doing our best work.
  • We choose mediocrity (in the short term) because we do not want to succeed due to the no-win scenarios, but we also do not want to fail. Thus, mediocrity is the space between success and failure, and it feels safe to be in it.
  • OPP (other people’s priorities) create conflict with our best work. So here are some recommendations for addressing OPP as it comes up during our project:
    • We create the space and time in our schedule for OPP that we accept or will accommodate.
    • For OPP that we do not or cannot accept, we need to be clear that it is a No rather than a maybe.
    • For OPP that we cannot genuinely accept and cannot outright reject or renegotiate, it is best to keep things to ourselves and advance our project in our personal space and time.
  • It is important to recognize various derailers and naysayers in our projects. Derailers are well-meaning people whose “help” and “feedback” throw us off course. Naysayers are people who actively criticize us or act against our project.
  • Doing project premortems can help identify and avoid the challenges that may slow or kill our projects. In addition to account for the drag points created by the no-win scenarios and OPP, ask the following questions to keep ourselves honest:
    • Have we picked a method of doing our projects that is especially hard for us? How might we start from and leverage our GATES?
    • Are we carrying any projects that we can let go of to keep them from bogging us down?
    • Are there any unhelpful stories we are telling ourselves, and what will we do to counteract those stories?

Charlie Gilkey on Start Finishing, Part 6

In his book, Start Finishing: How to go from idea to done, Charlie Gilkey discusses how we can follow a nine-step method to convert an idea into a project and get the project done via a reality-based schedule.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 6, Build Your Project Road Map

In this chapter, Charlie discusses the approach for developing a project roadmap that will place chunks of a project on a timeline. He offers the following recommendations for us to think about:

  • Rather than start our project on hard mode, we should consider building it by playing to our strengths. For example, consider using our GATES elements from the beginning to make it easier to get the project done.
    • Genius: What seems to be an expression of an inner creative force.
    • Affinities: What we are drawn to do.
    • Talents: What seems to be our native skills or capabilities.
    • Expertise: What we have learned through experience and practice.
    • Strengths: What seems to come easy for us.
  • Creating a budget for our project even when a project does not require money. Making budget is like making plans in that it is an awareness-generating process.
  • Use deadlines to guide our project, but it is our capacity that drives our project. Employ both forward-planning and backward planning approaches. Use backward planning to limit the size of the project and to set hard milestones. However, be cautious of using backward planning exclusively because most projects do not get our dedicated focus and attention all the time.
  • When we are working with outside collaborators, be sure to build relay time into our road map.
  • Build our road map with flexibility in mind and embrace the mistakes we are going to make. The seven recommended steps are:
    • Start your chunk list
    • Sort and link your chunks
    • Sequence your chunks
    • Clump your chunks
    • Upgrade your clumps
    • Overlay your chunks on a timeline
    • Schedule your chunks

Charlie Gilkey on Start Finishing, Part 5

In his book, Start Finishing: How to go from idea to done, Charlie Gilkey discusses how we can follow a nine-step method to convert an idea into a project and get the project done via a reality-based schedule.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 5, Make Space for Your Project

In this chapter, Charlie discusses the approaches to break our project into smaller and manageable chunks for planning and scheduling. He offers the following views for us to think about:

  • Chunking, linking, and sequencing are the essential skills we can use to create space and build plans that work for our projects. The project pyramid (like the Work Breakdown Structure) shows how bigger projects contain smaller projects. The smaller projects have tasks that help us build momentum.
  • The Five Project Rule alerts us that we should have no more than five active projects per timescale. Managing only a handful of projects simultaneously helps us do a better job of planning and prioritizing.
  • Charlie suggests using four types of project blocks for planning.
    • Focus Block: Focus blocks are 90 to 120 minutes in length. Any task that requires over ten hours becomes hard for us to visualize. Breaking a task into a series of five focus blocks makes it easier to understand the task.
    • Social Block: A social block is a block of time used to interact with others, often supporting our projects. We use focus blocks for creating something, while we use social blocks for connecting with someone.
    • Admin Block: Focus blocks are 30 to 60 minutes in length. If we are getting ahead on our admin blocks but falling behind on our projects, we are either going the wrong way or failing to understand the role of admin blocks in a project.
    • Recovery Block: Focus, social, and admin blocks are energy-expending entities, while the recovery block regenerates and puts the energy back into our pool. Skillful uses of recovery blocks can allow us to find dead zones in our days that can be repurposed for recovery. We should plan on a recovery block for every two focus or social blocks.

Charlie Gilkey on Start Finishing, Part 3

In his book, Start Finishing: How to go from idea to done, Charlie Gilkey discusses how we can follow a nine-step method to convert an idea into a project and get the project done via a reality-based schedule.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 3, Pick an Idea That Matters to You

In this chapter, Charlie discusses what idea we should make a project out of it. Of course, we all want to do the best work, but we often avoid asking ourselves the hard questions of what idea we should work on realizing. Finally, he offers the following views for us to think about:

  • When we try to choose an idea to work on, we thrash. Thrash is the emotional flailing we do when we do not fully commit to our best work. The more an idea matters to us, the more we will thrash. That is because the idea’s success or failure is critical to us.
  • Failure is inevitable when we try to do our best work. Doing our best work is showing up and dancing with uncertainty. Fortunately, failure can reveal what matters to us, show us when we are out of alignment on something, and reveal areas for growth.
  • The five hard questions to ask when picking the project that matters most:
    • When someone close to us asks what was the most important thing we have done over the last year, what would we say?
    • Which item on our idea list causes the most gut-level anguish when we consider cutting it from the list entirely?
    • Which item on our list are we most likely to create the schedule space to work on?
    • Which item on our list, if finished, will matter the most in the near or distant future?
    • Which item on the list is worth claiming one of our remaining “significant project” slots during our remaining lifespan?
  • Due to the limitations of time and energy, each decision carries an opportunity cost. We must let go of ideas that are not allowing us to thrive, so we can trade up the projects that do.

Charlie Gilkey on Start Finishing, Part 2

In his book, Start Finishing: How to go from idea to done, Charlie Gilkey discusses how we can follow a nine-step method to convert an idea into a project and get the project done via a reality-based schedule.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 2, Getting to Your Best Work

In this chapter, Charlie discusses the five challenges that keep us from doing our best work. He also discusses the five keys that we can use to mitigate those challenges. He offers the following views for us to think about:

  • The five challenges are competing priorities, head trash, no realistic plan, too few resources, and poor team alignment.
  • The five keys to overcoming the challenges are:
    • Intention: We need to start by asking ourselves the question of “why.” We also need to have a concrete result in mind for the finish line of the project.
    • Awareness: Awareness is knowing our best work and the conditions under which we will do and produce our best work. It is all about knowing ourselves.
    • Boundaries: We need to set up boundaries for our best work and from the things that keep us from doing it. Without the boundaries, it will be easy for something else to come into our environment and displace our best work.
    • Courage: When we are doing our best work, we will face a continual stream of obstacles and chances to back down and hide. When fear surfaces, courage and the faith it inspires are our way out of hiding.
    • Discipline: Discipline help to channel our energy into purposeful, constructive actions towards our best work. Habits are discipline made automatic. Developing habits that are conducive to doing our best work is the reason why we practice discipline.
  • Some keys are more effective at overcoming a particular challenge than others.
  • The five keys are skills with which we can cultivate and practice every day.