done because you would have a buggy, clunky product. When the details
are done right, it looks seamless and
you forget about how much work went
Unfortunately, letting these boring
details go is akin to undoing all the exciting work you already put in on the
project. If you want the beautiful thing
you built to stay standing, you have to
finish it out right.
How To Make a Great Finish
The next time you are hard at work on
a big project, make sure you allot time
and energy for a strong finish. Set aside
time in your project plans for the boring detail work; that way, it won’t catch
you by surprise. Make it seem just as
important as all the rest of the work
you do—because it is.
As you get to work on your next big
goal, keep in mind these three ways
to make sure you finish strong and
make the biggest possible impact
with your work.
1. Think Big Picture
When you are working on a project,
always keep the bigger-picture goals
in mind. What is the overall impact of
this project on your company? What
does your manager see as your team’s
You may remember an amazing so-
lution you came up with early in the
project, but your manager or executive
team—who were not in the trenches
with you every day, and who instead are
formation every day that it is impos-
sible to remember everything com-
pletely. As a result, our brains have to
give priority to certain pieces of infor-
mation over others.
This means we usually have the
clearest recall for things that were associated with strong emotions and
things that happened most recently.
This is known as the Peak-End Rule
This applies to all areas of our
lives. It’s why you should always stay
at the nicest hotel at the very end of
your vacation—it’s the one you will
remember most when you think
about that trip.
At work, your performance reviews
are usually weighted toward the work
you did most recently. Why? Because it
is freshest in your manager’s mind.
So, when you are working on a
project, think about how it will be
perceived by your leadership, keeping in mind the importance of the
While you might remember the
long hours you worked to build a new
feature one night, your boss may have
a different perspective. If, for example,
that feature you built had bugs that had
to be fixed at the last minute, or operational problems that generated negative attention, that’s what the boss will
remember more than the many hours
you put in.
Therefore, if you want to make a big
impact at work, you need to take advan-
tage of the Peak-End Rule by ensuring
every project you work on has a suc-
cessful, strong conclusion. If you are in
a position to present the project to your
leadership, make sure they see how
your hard work applies to their goals
and the things that are most important
Why So Few People Finish Strong
Starting work on a new project or goal
is usually an exciting time. In the beginning, there is a lot of momentum.
You are excited to tackle a big problem, and energy is high in meetings.
The first 80% of a project is all about
building up; there is a thrill in creating
By the end, though, energy is low.
You push to get things done by a
deadline, and you procrastinate on
the boring stuff that still has to get
done, like extra testing, polishing,
documentation, and boundary cases
you missed earlier.
The less elegant work is not as much
fun to work on, so people don’t really
work on it. Plus, there is very little recognition for this kind of work.
Our brains are resistant to working on tasks that don’t seem to offer
some kind of reward. They seem too
small, or too tedious. It can be mentally, and even physically, taxing to
spend time on a job that you do not
want to do or know you will not be
directly rewarded for.
These mundane tasks, when done
correctly, make the problems they
are solving invisible. You would only
ever notice if that work had not been I M