Start it now. Just start it.

I’m all for choosing a time to do a certain job: I live by deadlines anyway but it’s sensible and productive to pick a time that you will begin. Take a moment to judge how long something will take and assess when you’ll have all you need to complete it, then set that as a start date.

That means you can ignore it until that date and I am really all for getting stuff out of your head until you need to do it.


It’s that word ‘assess’.

I offer that the best way to assess a job is to start it. I’ve had times when I’ve had a last email with details of a job and as I’ve already known and confirmed the dates, I’ve only skimmed that message. Invariably, that’s been a mistake. Sometimes reading it over isn’t enough either.

Once or twice now I’ve done all the practical things yet as I came to start the work, realised I needed something more. Something that wasn’t apparent until I’d begun.

So I suggest you begin a job even if you’re going to then slot it into a date or a time later on. This lets you really understand what you need. It’s like checking you’ve got all the parts when you’re assembling furniture. You don’t do that and so far it’s worked out okay but you know some day it’s going to bite you.

Start the work, assemble some of the bits.

And then email the person who’s commissioned you. Having made that tiny start, you’ll be able to find some detail you need to check. Or at least that it sounds reasonable and believable that you want to check it. So you email them about that and they get the message: you’re on the case already. That goes down very well.

And then they email you back with the answer and thanking them, taking that detail and adding it to the work plan, it means one of two things.

First, you’ve started now and sometimes the ending is so clearly in sight that you might as well just go ahead and finish. When you can do a task, do a task.

But second and more commonly, when you come to do the task later, you feel like you’re already well underway – because you are.

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