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Merrily Preston
By Merrily Preston
Posted on Dec 10,2008
Filed Under Personal Development , Opinions,

Why can't this bridge in Argentina ever get finished? Merrily Preston argues that in the busy lives of today, it is simply impossible to address many non-urgent tasks.

All of my adult life I have started projects and not finished them. In my work it has been ok, since I am supposed to give a project to someone else to finish. I have been very successful professionally.
I have finished small projects quite well - for example, writing an award winning bi-monthly column for the newspaper. I raised 3 fine children, and have a happy marriage. But, I have unfinished quilts, Christmas decorations not put away, books in piles around the house.
When I semi-retired, I couldn't finish things - no energy or enthusiasm even for things I wished I had time for or enjoyed. A friend said it was ADHD.  My desk is a mess.
Now I work for pay 12 hrs a week at a sales job which is fun.  I am much more productive and look forward to the unfinished projects. I even regularly clean the house!
Have you an opinion?
Dear Opinion,
Of course I have an opinion.

A newspaper column is a small project?  The column, children, and marriage were consuming commitments with built-in, non-negotiable deadlines.  They created an efficient-time-use working gear.

Projects without deadlines – quilts, decorations to put away, piles of books, messy desk – end up in the file titled: “non-urgent, because I am going to live forever and can tackle this tomorrow.”  This feeling of pseudo-immortality minus automatic deadlines allows our working gear to slip.

(It all fairness, we recognize that in the busy lives of today, it is simply impossible to address many non-urgent tasks.)

There is an ADHD component.  In semi-retirement it’s easy to become distracted before a job is completed and to move on to begin another and then another.  Accomplishment dwindles if this becomes a pattern.  An intention to consciously complete one job before starting another sharpens focus and prevents pseudo-multitasking from becoming ADHD.

Your job has reestablished deadlines and has tightened your sense of time.  As a bonus you have a clean house, an uncluttered mind, and productivity.  Good.
Merrily Preston is an Intentional Life Facilitator, who lives in Woodbridge. Her column is exclusive to Local Kicks in Alexandria, VA. Email questions to, or use online form at

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