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[YS Lounge] Is 90% done your project's danger zone?

Shrinath V
27th Apr 2013
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Danger zone
Is this the time you feel most slothful during projects?

In every project, there’s usually a ‘danger zone’. You’ve almost completed the project, but your energy seems to run out just before the last mile. It’s as if you’ve run a marathon and can see the finish line, but stumble just before. A voice in your head screams - just a little more, run! But another voice says, you’ve run far, why did this happen now? You’re tired, let go.

I call it the ‘90% done’ problem. You’re almost there, but not quite. And the last few meters seem like trying to run over slush instead of steady ground.

What do you do? Pause or continue with renewed fervor?

There’s work to do, but your inclination is low. It’s only guilt that keeps you from goofing off.

It happens to all of us. Especially when working on a new product launch, or a business venture of your own. (Or, as most Yourstory writers will confirm: while writing an article!)

Those pesky digital distractions that were nice alleys to saunter down before you got back to work take a life of their own. You can taste the ‘freedom’ of having finished the task, but you’re not there yet. And the road to completion seems interminable.

Why is it so hard to finish up?

Is it because the last bits usually involve polishing the work that you’ve done earlier? Or maybe just the fact that by this time, no matter how passionate you are, you’re mentally exhausted and bored with the discipline of staying on course, and want a breather? Or there’s suddenly a jucier and more urgent task that’s more enticing and rewarding?

Or maybe, just maybe, its also that you don’t want to finish and move on to the next task. As long as you have one task that’s incomplete, you can justify not starting off on another one just yet.

No matter what the activity, I have also realized that the last 10% of the effort is usually the ‘boring’ stuff, compared to exciting stuff earlier. It may be having to proof-read marketing material, polishing your design till it’s sparkling, ensuring that the event planning is finally sealed off, making that press note live, waiting for a server to upload the latest code - it’s amazing that the activity just before the deadline seems most boring.

Rationally, we know that we need to complete the task (maybe that’s why God invented deadlines we can’t escape!), but there’s a lingering bit of sloth we love to indulge in. Left to ourselves, the last 10% of effort would probably take the same amount of time as getting the first 90% done, and we will still not be satisfied at the end of it.

Is there a solution to this? I don’t know. I’d love to say that I stay focussed because I’m passionate to the end, etc. but that’s not true. I know deadlines bring the sense of urgency and make me uncomfortable, but they ensure I get the task finished. But there’s no sure fire way I’ve discovered for getting things done without the pause at 90%.

Do you face the 90% done problem as well? How do you deal with it?

 

P.S. - I got 90% of the article done in one sitting, but the last 10% took another day. Just couldn’t help it!

 

 

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