Over the weekend, I took a trip back home to stay with some friends, catch up for a few days, and try to get their cat to like me (result: mostly successful). To change things up a bit, I decided to take a bus out which left me with a solid ten hours of time to fill up. Packing my bag earlier in the week, I scanned my apartment for some good distractions and realized I had quite a few books on my shelf that were about ¾ complete.
A terrible habit of mine is starting several books at once or starting new ones just before the end of others. This inevitably leads to a ton of unfinished books getting pushed lower in the stack, some never seeing the light of day again. Looking to reverse this, I thumbed through some of the incomplete books on the shelf and threw a few in my bag before I left.
During the trip, as I finished each book I was shocked by how good it felt. All told it only took me about half the trip to finish everything I’d brought. With everything finished, I started thinking about all of the other unfinished stuff in my life. Little projects around the house, ideas that made it to a piece of paper but were never executed on. All of these bits that were the center of attention at one point in time, now cast away, staring me down and hissing accusations of neglect.
After getting settled back home this afternoon, I opened up my email to jot down a few notes on what I need to do this week. As I started to add items to my list, I stopped and wondered “why don’t I just finish some of these now?” Most of what I’d written down were tiny, insignificant things. Stuff that would take less than five minutes to do now, but equally have the potential to get lost in my list later. Thinking about the books, I decided to spend an hour finishing off everything I’d put on my list. Sure enough, I got a similar feeling to the books; albeit small, as soon as I finished each task a weight was lifted.
Whether it be a book, a project, or something else: make a conscious effort to finish things. If you’re absolutely certain that you won’t finish something physical, get rid of it. If it’s an idea that you want to work on? Do it or strike it from the list and forget about it. In an abstract sense, every unfinished thing is like a tiny weight on your mind. The more you finish—or delete entirely—the less you have to carry around.