The Problem: Every day I’m faced with a new set of things to do, and as a manager, I need to decide who on the team is best to do them. Some things are easy and quick wins, but most are not. Some are area-focused (for example, Business Continuity tasks are given to the Business Continuity manager, and not the finance manager), but all of these things are incomplete, nebulous, unclear and difficult to get off the ground.
They may be the ideas of leaders in my organization, stakeholders, or even my ideas. But there’s one critical thing that all of these things have in common: they need to be finished.
Most people would say “… no kidding“, but I’m not talking about getting the thing done; I’m talking finished. Essentially, Finished is used when something is complete, there is no more to be done, no further to fall, or no work left to do, and so on. Done is used when you aren’t doing any more; It’s a choice… a decision – you chose to stop.
Reading the words that describe the thing to do will help get it done. Interpreting what the goal of those words are is what gets you finished.
Starting’s Easy… Starting a task or to-do is easy; Optimism reigns supreme! The thing is new and shiny. It seems doable, and for many, the challenge for starting something new is an adrenaline rush. But, then the adrenaline starts to wear off. The issues related to this new thing starts to show through, and more often than not, the big issue is defining done; “How am I ever going to get this done?” I want people to think about finishing.
What’s the difference? In my mind, plenty.
Idiomatically, though, there’s a slight difference between “I’m done” and “I’m finished“. In the context where someone has been working, either might be used if they have completed their task – but “I’m done” might be used for them giving up on the task, at least temporarily. “I’m finished” won’t be used for that as often. However, they both take that meaning if you add, for example, “…for the night“:
I’m done for the night. vs. I’m finished for the night.
Both mean that you’re stopping working for the night. There’s also an idiomatic use of “I’m finished” that you wouldn’t expect to be able to use interchangeably with done. That’s when you are using it to indicate that your situation is completely unrecoverable.
“That’s it. I can’t make rent on the shop this month, and there’s no way I can get another loan. I’m finished…“ That would mean that the business is going to go under, there’s nothing that can be done to save it.
Being done is the result of staying in between the lines when interpreting what activities needed to happen; It’s a conscious decision that someone (or a group) makes. Finished is a natural conclusion that occurs once the goals of the thing are truly understood. *Going Forward: In today’s world tasks and to-do’s are like icebergs; There is a lot more that you don’t see that will make or break your success. People need to look below the water line to discover what is needed to be successful… to be finished. Driving home a task or project used to be the job of a Project Manager. Now it’s everyone’s job. As much as people strive to clarify what is needed, ambiguity will always reign.
Think bigger; Ask questions; Do more; Be a leader… Finish.