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Am I done yet? A Follow-Through Question for Freelance Writers

follow-throughHow’s your follow-through?

Think about that question for a moment.

How would you rate yourself when it comes to follow-through?

Until recently I thought I was pretty good at it. If you’d asked I’d have probably given myself a 7 or 8 with 10 being the highest possible.

I was wrong.

I took a personality test and discovered that in that particular world I’m an amiable / expressive. While as an aimable I get along with people and I’ve learned to set pretty decent boundaries, the expressive in me is easily distracted. Or as a coach said, “You love bright, shiny new objects!” I also hate to be bored!

How could I have failed to notice my horrid follow-through?

When Mark Boersma first pointed this out to me in one of our Mastermind calls, I thought he was nuts – the first reaction I often have to something he says. But somehow I was able to hear him and really consider what he said. I could see that if there are 20 things to do on a project other than writing I am likely to do 17 or 18 and never notice that the last couple haven’t been done.

When I look back over my life I see the same pattern. When I was ten or so I built a home for my outdoor cat. I made it out of wood and chicken wire. My intention was to paint it blue. I never got the painting even started. I doubt now painting would have made Tiger Lilly more likely to use the place, but that’s not the point.

It’s entirely possible, even probable that others have told me I don’t follow-through well or completely, but it’s only in the last couple of months that I’ve been able to take in that information in, understand it and begin to develop strategies to improve.

Clear, firm deadlines I can’t slip make follow-through easier

Somehow, early on in my freelance writing career I did learn to make deadlines, at least those deadlines set by others and that I’ve agreed to. Here’s what I mean:

If I contract to have an article done by a certain date I will finish it by then.

Since I decided I’d post a blog on most Tuesdays and Thursdays I’ve done that – and I usually do get a newsletter out every Thursday.

I can honcho a whole magazine from editing through layout and on to printing and adhere to a deadline. When I contract to ghostwrite a book I will get it done provided the author does their part.

It’s the other, sometimes boring stuff that’s a problem

Take other projects, however. Those like marketing or developing an email message to past clients or even getting the dishes done on a regular basis.

There’s a whole lot in life and work that isn’t particularly interesting and that doesn’t have the same kind of clear, hard deadline I respond to so well.

How I’m learning to follow-through

My first step in learning to follow-through was and to just notice when I don’t. Sounds simple, but I’ve discovered I’m really good at ignoring stuff. My to-do list is a help. If I just notice what isn’t done I get a clue. I’m working on making my to-do list only of the important stuff.

I’m look around more – in my house, my car, on my computer, in my life in general to see what’s done and what’s undone.

That’s where the question in the title, ‘Am I done yet?’ comes from. When I find something that isn’t done I ask myself two questions – ‘Does it need to be done today?’ and/or ‘When does it need to be done?’

Gradually I’m beginning to get a handle on more stuff and my follow through is improving, slowly.

Would you like to take the same personality test? Email me and we’ll set one up – no cost or obligation.

Write well and often,


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