How can I improve my discipline and become better at finishing tasks that I start?


Here’s what’s great about your question: this is one area of our life that we have control over.

But before we get into the how, let’s try and understand the why.

In other words, why do you not finish what you started or why do you not do it on time?

Step #1. Identify what’s bothering you.

  • Is it fear of not being able to do something successfully?
  • Is it lack of knowledge you need to complete a task?
  • Do you find the work overwhelming or too time-consuming?

Step #2. Find strategies to improve the situation.

It’s always helpful if these strategies are straightforward and easy to follow. If you get advice that’s very complicated and takes a lot of time to implement, you’ll likely give up sooner rather than later.

Step #3. Get proactive about making a change.

Here’s how you can do it.

Self-discipline tip #1. Get smarter about maximizing your daily dose of willpower.

When we wake up, it’s not uncommon that we’re overwhelmed with the amount of things we need to do, so we end up procrastinating and postponing our tasks. That’s a critical mistake, because we all have a finite amount of willpower that takes us through the day. If you want to focus on priorities, work on them early.

  • Complete one task that you’ve been putting off all week before lunchtime. It’s going to take much less time than if you leave if for the evening.
  • Write up a weekly plan for the school or work week ahead of time. That way you won’t panic when a deadline is approaching.
  • Finish homework that you’ve been putting off because you’ve been watching YouTube videos. You won’t need to stay up all night making up for lost time.

Self-discipline tip #2. Take care of your basic needs first.

Before you embark on your path toward any type of achievement, it’s important to cover the basics. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, that means meeting the first level of physiological needs such as food, shelter, and clothing. Here is the first opportunity where you can practice self-discipline.

  • Eat the right food. Eat not just to be full, but also to stay healthy and maintain your brain’s optimal performance.
  • Get sufficient exercise. Physical exercise is critical to performing well in every area of your life, so make sure to make it is a daily habit.
  • Get enough sleep. When you’re sleep-deprived, you’ll never be able to function at optimal levels, either physically and mentally. Be sure to get enough sleep.

Self-discipline tip #3. Make a new habit stick by keeping it simple.

Every habit we’d like to acquire needs self-discipline, time, and repetition. If you’re reading this, chances are you feel that it’s time to make some kind of improvement in the way you do your work. To simplify a change you’re trying to make, start with tiny steps.

  • Start with a micro task. It can be writing down a to-do list of what you need to accomplish in one day.
  • Don’t multitask. Go down your list of tasks and look at each one individually. Don’t try to do a few things in the same hour.
  • Divide your time into manageable chunks. Use the Pomodoro technique to maximize time and keep yourself on track.

Self-discipline tip #4. Practice saying no more often.

If you frequently find yourself running out of time to do what you need to do, it probably means you’re wasting time and energy on things that are not that important in the long run. Start building up your “no muscle” in small ways each day.

  • When you’re in the middle of finishing up a project and a friend calls to invite you to a party, it doesn’t mean you should drop everything and go. It’s okay to politely say no and stay focused on your goal.
  • When you are working and your mobile phone lights up with a notification of a Facebook or Instagram update, don’t look at it. Keep your phone away from you when you’re working, and check it after you’ve completed a task.

Self-discipline tip #5. Make a specific commitment to yourself.

Commitments aren’t just promises you make to other people. You can — and should — make them first to yourself. A great way to begin is to define a very specific goal you want to achieve in a certain time frame. Here are a few examples of what you can commit to. Write it down in your journal, or write it on a large sheet of paper and hang it on your bedroom wall so you see it each day.

  • I am committed to focusing on my studies in the next 30 days so that I can pass all three of my exams with top marks.
  • I am committed to completing my to-do list for today before I turn on the TV so that I don’t have to add more things to my work agenda tomorrow.
  • I am committed to staying focused on my goals so that I can make progress in my work or school and be proud of what I’ve done.

What are some uncommon habits that contribute to success?

Some might be unusual, and others might need a bit of preparation and thought. Either way, all 5 of these habits have one thing in common: they can help you train your brain to focus on what’s most important to YOU.

Habit #1: Strengthen your focus and simplify your workload by asking one question early each morning: What is the one thing I am committed to learning today?

What are the benefits?

It keeps things simple, it helps your brain focus better, makes you prioritize your goals, and streamlines your work so you don’t feel overwhelmed with having to accomplish too many things in a single day.

How to start practicing it?

  • Write this question in big bold letters on a sheet of paper and hang it on your bedroom or bathroom wall.
  • Read it out loud as you start each day, and come up with an answer on the spot.
  • Keep your answer top of mind as you go through your work for the day, so that you don’t get distracted by other things that you come across.

Habit #2: Remind yourself of everything you have going for you in life by saying thank you every day.

What are the benefits?

When you practice gratitude, this habit trains your brain to focus on positive things and makes you think of what you already have in your life as opposed to what you do not. Being grateful will also keep you grounded in your personal life so you are less focused on what other people (friends, classmates, relatives, coworkers, neighbors) are doing with theirs, which is a huge waste of time and won’t help you get any closer to your personal goals.

How to start practicing it?

Each morning, take 5 minutes to write down or say aloud 3 things you are grateful for having in your life right now. It can be something as simple as having a roof over your head, a warm bed to sleep in, food in your fridge, clean running water and electricity, or a great relationship with a family member, a partner or a friend. Be specific: if it’s a family member or friend, emphasize which of their qualities you are grateful for: they’re warm, gracious, kind, loving, funny, etc.

Habit #3: Increase your feelings of positivity by treating happiness like a habit that you can incorporate into your day.

What are the benefits?

It’s a matter of perspective and a shift in attitude: you start thinking about happiness differently. Instead of seeing it as something abstract and even unattainable (or just something others possess but you do not), you start treating happiness like a habit. The advantage to this way of thinking? It makes you more proactive about getting happier, and it helps you see that happiness is a state of being you can work on every single day, which makes it much more real.

How to start practicing it?

Apply some positive psychology to the way you lead your life, and you will feel a more positive impact on your attitude, your motivation, and your relationships with people. Read Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Happiness and Choose the Life You Want: The Way To Lasting Happiness Moment by Moment by Tal Ben-Shahar, a lecturer at Harvard University. In both books you will find practical suggestions on how to apply the concept of happiness to daily life, for example in school, the workplace, and in your personal relationships.

Habit #4: To minimize feelings of overwhelm and frustration about your work, stop multitasking.

What are the benefits?

You may think that multitasking just helps you manage time better, but it has one major side effect: it won’t help your brain function optimally. The Harvard Business Review has an excellent article about this, focusing on one of the most frequent activities we perform daily: checking email. The article states that every time we check email or get distracted (for example, when the phone rings or someone interrupts us while we’re in the middle of an important task), it can take us up to 20 minutes to get our focus back. And it doesn’t end there: a study from the University of London showed that this type of multitasking can result in a loss in IQ points.

How to start practicing it?

There are different ways to avoid multitasking; here are a few:

  • Set your phone to Airplane mode so that calls and text messages don’t interrupt your work.
  • Set expectations with others (roommates, friends, family members) by asking them to leave you alone so that you can focus on finishing your important work, and telling them you’ll talk to them when you’re finished.
  • Schedule in the time to check messages: check your email, social media feed and voicemail 2–3 times a day (around lunchtime, later in the afternoon, and evening), so that you don’t interrupt your work.
  • Avoid browsing the Internet or reading the news early in the day; leave these activities for later after you’ve completed what you need to do.

Habit #5. To develop a strategic mindset for doing work, practice building a mental model.

What are the benefits?

A mental model is a technique where we tell ourselves a story of what we expect to happen in the near future. More specifically, we imagine in detail how we expect things will go in a specific, real life situation; it can be related to school, work, relationships, social interactions, or even major life events. Some benefits of this technique include better absorption of new information, better preparedness to anticipate challenges, and becoming less likely to be interrupted by distractions.

How to start practicing it?

  • Start your morning by visualizing a successful work day. Set aside about 5–10 minutes for this activity. You can do it either before you get up in the morning, while you’re having breakfast, or right after breakfast as you’re sitting with your eyes closed.
  • Be detailed in thinking about all the steps you will take. This can include covering all the tasks you need to complete to work on a project at work or school: doing research, writing, coding, creating a spreadsheet, attending a meeting, responding to emails, etc.
  • Anticipate and identify which parts you will find challenging. This helps you prepare for problems so you don’t end up getting surprised because something unexpected happens. Brainstorm ways to resolve a challenge (for example, by scheduling a little extra time if there’s a delay, asking someone with more expertise for help on a difficult problem, or by consulting a different resource such as a book or website for additional solutions).
  • Imagine a positive outcome and how it will feel at the end of the day when you’ve completed what you set out to do. Success isn’t finishing one big chunk of work at once; it’s making progress and completing a set of many smaller tasks that all amount to something much bigger: getting closer to achieving a goal. Keeping your eyes on that goal will ensure that you stay motivated and focused on what you need to do, so that you can see your future as something you create for yourself – and something to look forward to.

How can you benefit from a 30-day plan to study smarter?

If you’ve been following me on Quora, Twitter or this blog, you saw that I share many study tips and hacks that can boost productivity and make your learning experience as efficient as possible, and even enjoyable in the process! In the past few months I received numerous requests from students worldwide to put together these study tips in a book format so they’re easy to read, and also to suggest ways in which they can be incorporated into a daily schedule.

The result? I just completed an e-book called Your Study Smarter 30-Day Plan.

Who is this e-book for?

Your Study Smarter 30-Day Plan is designed for the busy student who wants to improve the way they study, boost focus and concentration, stay motivated while preparing for exams, make the most of each study day, and still have time to unwind and have fun despite a heavy workload during the semester.

How can you benefit from this e-book?

The key idea behind this e-book is to help you study smarter by building very small habits and gradually incorporating them into your day. There are several benefits of this method: it will help you structure your day and establish a routine for you to follow, it will show you how to make small changes for maximum effect in the way your study, and it will introduce something new that you can master over time through repetition. The plan will provide you with a framework of things to choose from, habits to grow, and new ideas to implement into your day.

How is this e-book organized?

This e-book is divided into 4 main sections, one for each week of the month. In each week you will introduce a couple of new habits to your usual daily routine that will help you structure your day and study in a focused way so that you can perform better in your classes. Then, you will practice the new habits throughout the week so that you can get used to them, which will in turn help you reinforce the new behavior to stick better. Each section consists of the following elements:

  • An outline for each week
  • An introduction to new mini-habits to practice for that specific week
  • A list of practical suggestions on how to practice each mini habit
  • A motivational tip of the day to boost your focus
  • A daily checklist to monitor your progress

When and where can you purchase it?

The e-book is available today. Get a copy of Your Study Smarter 30-Day Plan here.

Questions? Add a comment below!

How do I study smarter? There’s a cool resource in the works for you to check out!

How do I study smarter?

That’s the #1 question I keep hearing on social media, websites, and directly from people I interact with regularly. Many students post questions to me on Quora, my Twitter account, directly via email and on my blog. It’s a great question!

The good news first:

There are a LOT of excellent answers, ideas, and suggestions out there. If you just follow some popular hashtags such as #productivity and #studyhacks, you will see thousands of ideas on how to improve your study technique. Some suggestions are concise while others go more in depth; some provide plenty of diverse suggestions while others focus on one tip to follow. Either way, you’ll never find a shortage of studying advice.

And now for the challenging part:

In the sea of advice, students often lose the way. They get distracted: how do you know which advice you should pay attention to? Or they feel overwhelmed: there’s so much to read, how can you possibly learn everything? Or they feel stuck: sure, the advice you read sounds motivating enough, but how are you supposed to put it in practice?

After spending years as a student (for a grand total of 3 degrees, of which two are graduate ones!), I know personally how challenging all this can be. So I wanted to do something helpful. That is why I am currently working on an e-book called The Study Smarter 30-Day Plan. As the name suggests, it won’t be just a compilation of ideas on how to study smarter, but a real plan that you can incorporate into a 4-week period. You will get a breakdown of each week, plus a daily schedule, all in a fun and easy-to-read format. And all you need to do is just follow it. That should take a lot of the guesswork and the planning out of the equation, right?

That’s the goal.

I’m almost done with putting the e-book together, and I will share details with you in the next few days. Stay tuned!

How can I increase my concentration?

Wouldn’t it be great if we could tune into our optimum brain power so that we can study effortlessly, remember everything, and still have plenty of time left over for doing things we like to do?

It’s not impossible. In most cases, it’s just a matter of implementing a few new ideas into the way we study.

Take a look at these 5 tips and see how you can improve your concentration and manage your study time better than before.

Tip #1. Get to know your brain better.

You can optimize your brain performance by working smarter in less time than you think you need. Here’s a technique yo can try: for one week, keep a log of all mental activities you perform in the morning, midday, afternoon and evening. You will notice a pattern in how your brain works at a certain time of day. Then, adjust your schedule to accommodate the activities depending on what’s right for your brain and when. For example:

  • Mornings can be great for doing deep work, i.e. work that requires a lot of your concentration. Some scientists call this the brain’s peak performance time, and it’s roughly 2-4 hours after we wake up. So, for example, if you wake up at 6, your peak times are between 8 and 10 a.m. Block this time off for your analytical brain to perform the most complex tasks that require a lot of focus: learning new material, reviewing, recalling, problem-solving.
  • Early afternoons are great for collaborating. This covers the 12-4 p.m. time range, when you take a lunch break and the few hours after, when you are more likely to socialize. It’s a good time of day to brainstorm ideas with others and work together on projects where you can provide feedback and get recommendations on your work.
  • Evenings, usually around 5-9 p.m., can be scheduled for strategic thinking. This is when the brain eases into a different tempo when it can be more creative. Use this time to set goals of what you want to do with all the knowledge you’re acquiring. For example, if you’re studying for an exam, think about what you will do after graduation, which career you see for yourself, which jobs you’d like to apply for, etc. It’s a great time for creating and contemplating the big picture.

Tip #2. Make it a ritual.

Rituals are beneficial because they set the tone to your work, they train your mind to get used to doing things at certain times of the day, and they give you a sense of control over your day. Here are some ritual ideas to help you concentrate better:

  • Find a place where you won’t be disturbed. If you’re working from home, it’s easy: it can be your desk, a comfortable couch, or a big armchair. If you’re at the library, it might be a table tucked away in the back, next to a wall, so you’re not disturbed by people passing by.
  • Block away environmental noise with noise-cancelling headphones, and listen to music (it can be classical music or simply sounds of nature). Don’t want to listen to music? Get a good pair of soft silicone ear plugs like these and read in silence.
  • Have a small cup of coffee. Getting a caffeine boost can help increase focus. Keep in mind that it usually takes about 30 minutes to kick in, so time it well by drinking a cup ahead of time before you start working. Don’t drink coffee? Try green tea instead, as it also contains caffeine.
  • Take a walk to boost memory and increase focus. Performing some form of physical exercise, even if it is targeted and short, improves your brain’s cognitive performance, problem solving ability, and even boosts long-term memory. Use your lunch break to walk for 30 minutes. If your neighborhood is noisy, take your headphones with you and listen to music.

Tip #3. Remove distractions that are in your way.

Distractions can easily take you away from the work you are focusing on, and can waste time without you even noticing. Reading email and constantly checking your Facebook or Twitter notification prevents you from focusing and can make you feel overwhelmed. Studies have shown that this multitasking can lower your IQ by 10 points! Make a conscious effort to avoid distractions. A few ideas to try include:

  • Avoid browsing the Internet or reading the daily news early: leave these activities for later after you’ve completed all your important work for the day.
  • Set your phone to Airplane mode when you need to focus without any disturbances, or simply turn the volume off and move your phone away so you can’t see it while you’re working.
  • Set expectations with others by letting them know you won’t be available in the next few hours, so they don’t interrupt you with their requests, questions or comments.
  • Check your email and social media apps only 2–3 times a day. For example, you can check them at lunchtime, later in the afternoon, and in the evening.

Tip #4. Use a timer.

Don’t spend endless hours reading and working without taking breaks; if you do, you will likely lose focus as well as motivation to continue. Learn how to manage your time better with one simple tool: a timer.

  • Set your timer to 60 minute increments to allow your brain to focus in a more targeted and effective way.
  • Try the Pomodoro technique which consists of 25 minute blocks of time, followed by 5 minute breaks.
  • When you’re done with one segment, take a break. Step away from your desk and do something completely unrelated to work to give your brain a chance to rest: get some fresh air, go for a quick walk (even 10 minutes will work), grab a cup of coffee or tea.

Tip #5. Train your brain with some quiet time.

If your day is crammed with different activities that all require your attention, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and be in tune with what is really important to focus on. There is one simple yet very effective practice that can help, and it’s meditation.

  • The benefits: Meditating can declutter your brain of thoughts that distract you from the brilliant work you could be doing. In addition, you will notice better focus throughout the day, more concentration, improved ability to cope with the day’s events, and a greater sense of calm.
  • How to get started: There’s a free app you can download to start training your mind, and it’s called Headspace. Start with a 10 minute session. It’s fun and easy to use, especially if you’re a complete beginner.

What are some errors that every student should avoid?

You may not even think that what you’re doing is wrong! It could be something you do by default or simply because you haven’t found an alternative.

Here are 5 common errors students make (and 5 easy ways to fix them):

  • Waiting until evening to start cramming for an exam
  • Cramming for an exam for hours
  • Not thinking it through
  • Going over and over your textbook and notes quietly
  • Letting distractions steal your attention

Error #1. Waiting until evening to start cramming for an exam.

It may sound like a good idea at first, or maybe you’re just used to studying deep into the night. But you know that feeling of sheer mental exhaustion that kicks in a couple of hours into your nighttime studying? That’s because your brain is becoming overwhelmed with the amount of information it’s already processed during the day. And that’s just how your circadian rhythm works. For most of us, it’s not nighttime but mornings that are optimal for doing work that requires a lot of concentration and analytical thinking. For studying, this work includes reading, doing exercises, analyzing, critical thinking, and problem solving.

How can you fix this?

  • Make the most of your circadian rhythm by studying the hardest material in the morning. The benefit is that your brain is well rested from sleep, is not yet distracted by events happening around you, and therefore can focus better on analytical tasks.
  • Schedule in a study session 2-4 hours after you wake up. For example, if you wake up at 7, your peak times are between 9 and 11 a.m. If you have classes early in the day, consider shifting your sleeping schedule so that you can wake up earlier to tuck in a study session. And if your mornings are free, extend this time until lunch to maximize your peak performing hours.

Error #2. Cramming for an exam for hours.

It’s quite a challenge to stay focused on your textbook when you’ve been sitting at your desk for hours reading through it. If anything, you’re less likely to keep your motivation up in order to continue. There’s a better way to study smarter instead of harder and longer.

How can you fix this?

  • When you’re ready to begin studying, use a timer. It will help your brain focus more effectively. Here are two ways to do it:
    • When reading or reviewing study material: Set the timer to 30 or 60 minute increments to maximize concentration; or, try the Pomodoro technique which consists of 25 minute blocks of time, followed by 5 minute breaks. When the timer goes off, step away for 10–15 minutes: grab a snack, go for a quick walk, or listen to music.
    • When preparing for exams: Use your timer to simulate an exam. First, start with the review questions provided in your textbook or by your professor, or create your own based on key concepts from each chapter. Then, write the questions down on a sheet of paper in a list format. Set your timer to the Pomodoro technique to give yourself a short time to answer the questions, and go down the list until you’ve covered all of them.

Error #3. Not thinking it through.

The typical study session consists of a general plan to cover certain chapters, followed by a review and going over notes. But this doesn’t mean you got your brain on board with what you’re actually doing: working towards a specific goal.

How can you fix this?

  • Tell yourself a story! It’s not a joke – it’s a technique called building a mental model, in which we tell ourselves a story of what we expect to happen in the near future so that we can master our concentration for what we need to do. In the case of studying, it’s mentally preparing ourselves for our studying day. Here’s how it works:
    • Start your day by visualizing your success. Do this before you begin by setting aside 5–10 minutes before you get up in the morning, while you’re having breakfast, or right after breakfast as you sit with your eyes closed.
    • Think about all the steps you will take. This can include covering the chapters and exercises planned for that day, to taking the time to review the material, to writing out an outline of important concepts, to practicing exam questions and knowing the answers.
    • Anticipate which concepts you may struggle to understand and remember. This helps you prepare for problems so you don’t end up surprised because you don’t understand a part of a chapter. Brainstorm ways to resolve the problem (for example, if it happens, you will make a plan to ask a classmate, reach out to the professor, or set aside a little extra time for review).
    • Imagine a positive outcome. For example, think about finishing what you planned to do for the day and how great that will feel. Having a sense of accomplishment and celebrating small wins each day will boost your motivation and help you feel more positive about making progress towards your exams.
    • Plan to treat yourself well in the evening for all your hard work.Depending on your personal preferences, you may want to go for a long walk with a friend, or a long bike ride, or a run, then watch a fun movie or spend time with someone close to you.

Error #4. Going over and over your textbook and notes quietly.

For most students, this is the way we’ve been studying for years: we read through a chapter once, twice, three times. Then we go over our notes. And we do our exercises. All in silence. But did you know that the teaching technique (i.e. teaching what you’ve learned to someone else) is one of the most powerful memory techniques? It helps you recall and retain what you learned better and faster than just silently reading your book and notes.

How can you fix this?

  • First, get an audience: a close friend, study partner, family member, even your dog if you’re lucky to have one, or simply pretend you have a couple of invisible students.
  • Next, take a large sheet of white paper and tape it to your bedroom wall at eye level. If you’d like, get a few sheets and tape them together for a larger writing surface.
  • Then, get to work: write an outline of the most important points in the chapter you just covered, then go over the concepts aloud one by one. Make it dynamic: draw diagrams on the side and talk through a few examples.
  • Finally, summarize the key parts and highlight these sections with your marker or highlighter. This helps you recall and solidify what you’ve learned.

Error #5. Letting distractions steal your attention.

There are so many distractions that can slow you down and keep you occupied so much that you find your eyes and your focus wandering off to things that aren’t top priority. Sometimes it’s a call from a friend, or listening to the news, or checking the notifications from the apps on your phone.

How can you fix this?

  • Be more proactive at eliminating distractions around you. Here’s how to do it:
    • Check emails and social media apps 3 times a day. Spending your peak performance hours to read through social media updates, emails and news is a waste of your mental energy. A good schedule to follow is to check around lunchtime, later in the afternoon, and in the evening. You can use your short breaks between work sessions to catch up on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
    • Set your phone to Airplane mode when you need to focus without a single interruption. If it’s not possible for you to do that, then turn off the volume in your phone settings and put your phone away so that you can’t see it in front of you.
    • Set expectations with people close to you by letting them know you won’t be available in the next few hours. It sounds obvious but it isn’t; nobody will know you need your quiet time, so you do need to tell them. Let them know when you’ll reach out with a call or in person to catch up with what’s happening that day.

What is the one habit you have that positively impacts your productivity?

Hands down, the #1 productivity habit I’ve developed over the past year is starting my day with only one question in mind:

What is the one thing I am committed to completing today?

How has it impacted my productivity?

  • It’s a focus booster: When I ask the question, I immediately have to think what’s important for that particular day. It forces me to “zoom into” my priorities.
  • It makes my day less overwhelming: Even though I can have ten different things I want to do, I know that finishing one of them is doable and realistic.
  • It helps me keep that one thing top of mind: There’s no way I will forget my top priority if I start my day thinking about it. It’s always there as a reminder.
  • It diminishes the distractions: I’ve noticed that I’m less likely to pay attention to things that aren’t related to my number one priority.
  • It helps me schedule my day better: I start working on my one thing early, then I work on it again in the afternoon, and keep going until I’m done. Usually, by evening it’s finished and I can relax and do other stuff.

What is my success rate?

  • Excellent! Since I’ve incorporated this habit, I’ve been able to finish my hardest (or most cumbersome) tasks, especially if I start working on them early in the morning.

Can this small habit work for you?

  • Yes! It’s very small (therefore, it’s a mini habit), it doesn’t take long to practice (just a few minutes), and in a short while you’ll get so used to it that you’ll be asking the question automatically and effortlessly.
  • Here’s how you can work this habit into your day:
    • First, write it down: take a large sheet of paper and write the question in big bold letters with a thick marker.
    • Next, find a place where you’re most likely to look at it: it can be on your bedroom wall (maybe next to your bed or right in front of you when you wake up) or the bathroom wall (next to the mirror).
    • Then, as you’re brushing your teeth or getting dressed, look at the question and ask it out loud.
    • Take a few moments to consider what’s on your agenda for the day, then pick one thing that has top priority for you and give an answer out loud to yourself.
    • Tip: If possible, start working on your one thing early. If that isn’t possible, then prepare ahead of time: think of which steps you’ll need to do when you’re able to begin, how long you expect it to take, and what you will do if you run into a problem. By thinking through the scenario you set your strategy in place, making your task easier to complete once it’s underway.