Start Finishing

How to Go From Idea to Done


Start Finishing answers the question:

Why is it that we don't do the stuff that really matters to us?

It's easy to explain why we don't do the stuff we don't want to do, but what about the stuff we want to do?

It's the one book you need to turn your soul-deep dreams, goals, and ideas into doable projects that live on your schedule and get done.

"Start Finishing lives up to its promise to help people get good work done." – Foreword Reviews

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Have you seen the new Start Finishing Field Guide? This companion to Start Finishing: How to Go From Idea to Done, helps you put your projects immediately into action.

The Start Finishing Field Guide is a workbook that guides you through Charlie Gilkey's seven-step momentum method. Filled with helpful worksheets, illustrations, and tips, now it's easier than ever to go from idea to done. Get your copy now!

Learn More About Start Finishing

How much of your time and attention lately has been focused on things that truly matter to you?

Most people's honest answer is: Not enough. Everyone is buried by busywork, responsibility, distraction, and fatigue.

The joy-producing, difference-making ideas are waiting for when the time is right, when the current project is over, when they have a little more money, when the kids are grown, or when they get a more understanding boss. They are waiting for someday.

The trouble is someday never comes on its own.

You are not incapable, wired to struggle, or fated to be unable to get your act together. With a few key steps, you can change the way you show up, how you plan, and how you respond when things get tough.

Start Finishing includes original contributions from Seth Godin, Susan Piver, Jonathan Fields, James Clear, and many other teachers. Pick up a copy today and start finishing the work that matters most to you.


My decades of helping people create their body of work and start businesses have repeatedly shown that the greatest threat to success is the lack of ability to get things done and out into the world. Charlie Gilkey is uniquely qualified to solve this problem, and Start Finishing will fundamentally change the creative and entrepreneurial landscapes. Read this book and reap the rewards for the rest of your life.

Pamela Slim, Author of Escape from Cubicle Nation and Body of Work

Cut through all of the superficial productivity noise and really learn how to:

  • Build your success pack of supporters, guides, peers, and beneficiaries
  • Use the Five Project Rule to prioritize your daily schedule and be at peace with the work you choose not to do
  • Chunk, link, and sequence your ideas down to doable parts
  • Fly through drag points - how to deal with head trash, no-win scenarios, and other people's priorities
  • Heatmap your schedule so you do the right work at the right time
  • Overcome cascades, logjams, and tarpits - the three ways projects routinely get stuck
  • Finish strong - celebrate, review, and ride the momentum to your next goal

"Charlie Gilkey knows you have little trouble beginning new projects. But finishing them? That's often another story. The good news is that Gilkey is here to help. His terrific book offers a 9-step program to turn those great ideas into finished products - and your dreams into realities."

Daniel H. Pink, Author of Drive and When

About Charlie Gilkey

Charlie Gilkey helps people start finishing the stuff that matters. He's the founder of Productive Flourishing, author of Team Habits (2023), Start Finishing (2019), and The Small Business Lifecycle (2012), as well as the host of The Productive Flourishing Podcast.

Before starting Productive Flourishing, Charlie worked as a Joint Force Military Logistics Coordinator while simultaneously pursuing a PhD in Philosophy. He lives with his wife, Angela, in Portland, Oregon.


"Start Finishing is a heartfelt hug, bundled with a loving kick-in-the-ass, a masterclass in getting un-stuck and a set of tools that finally... FINALLY... get you out of your own way and send you sprinting (and laughing) toward that thing, you know - that ONE BIG THING - that, until now, you've wanted so desperately, but never knew how to make your reality. Read it, do it, done!"

Jonathan Fields, Bestselling author and the founder of the top-rated podcast The Good Life Project

Start Finishing Has Won These Awards

"There are few works on the market like this. Gilkey doesn't hobble his book with quasi New Age babble, shallow philosophy, or data for wonks that will mean nothing to layman readers. He, instead, builds the book around practical advice rather than over-intellectualized approaches and it rewards readers because it meets them half way - he reveals something of himself rather than keeping a distance from readers and relating to Start Finishing is one of the keys to its overall success. You won't read this book a single time and then shelve it to collect dust."

Independent Music and Arts, Inc.

Additional Praise for Start Finishing

"Just like our houses, our work is filled with clutter that's keeping us from what matters most. Start Finishing shows us how to pick the ideas and projects that we want to keep and work through seeing them to completion. If you're ready to get over the clutter of busywork and do the work that'll make you come alive, get this book and start finishing." - Joshua Becker, Founder of Becoming Minimalist and Author of The Minimalist Home

"Big dreams can feel overwhelming, but in this encouraging book, Charlie shows you how to get started, plan your projects, and just keeping going. You don't find the time, you make the time - and Charlie will show you how." - Laura Vanderkam, Notable writer, speaker and author of Juliet's School of Possibilities

"If you're wondering what you should do with your life, Charlie has the answer: start finishing your best work. He goes deep into the real challenges that get in the way when you start making things that matter and teaches you proven, adaptable tools to close the gap between you and the person you want to be. Get this book and figure out your purpose, one finished project at a time." - Jeff Goins, Bestselling author of Real Artists Don't Starve

"Start Finishing offers a step by step process to help you get from concept to completed, no matter the project you're trying to tackle. So many books show you how to get going on projects but few focus on how to get beyond the beginning, through the middle, and to the end result. Charlie Gilkey has written a book that does that - and does it in a way that's tried, tested, and true. Start Finishing is a book that, once read from start to finish, will allow you finish anything time and time again." - Mike Vardy, Productivity Strategist and Founder of TimeCrafting

"Start Finishing is a game-changer for creative people. The productivity genre is filled with hacks, tricks, and half-baked strategies that oversimplify productivity, or turn productivity into an overly-complex organizational challenge that most people don't have the patience to learn. Start Finishing reflects a paradigm shift in thinking about productivity that is grounded in both real-world application and solid academic theory." - Cory Huff, Author of How to Sell Your Art Online

"Paths are made by walking, not waiting. In Start Finishing, Charlie Gilkey lifts us back up and walks us to the finish line of the important goals and ideas we've been sitting on. The result of this book is quite honestly a life filled with fewer distractions and a greater sense of daily fulfillment. It's a must-read that we will undoubtedly be referencing and re-reading in the weeks and months ahead." - Marc and Angel Chernoff, New York Times best-selling authors of Getting Back to Happy

"Charlie Gilkey has put together a masterpiece that defies simply classifications. To call Start Finishing 'a guide to setting goals you actually want to achieve,' or 'a project management book that cuts the BS promises and actually helps you achieve those goals' would both be true descriptions, but they would fall woefully short of the greater value Gilkey has gifted us. Start Finishing is exactly what it promises: your map and compass to bringing forth your best work. Helping the reader to get clear about what best work really means and how to distinguish it from all those other things in your life that keep you from it is in and of itself worth the read. But this brilliant, honest, and assuring book isn't just about figuring out what or how to start - it's a deeply thoughtful and completely engaging manual for finishing, in other words, for making that best work you're dreaming of real. If you want to start finishing, clear space on your desk for this important work. You can forget about finding space on your bookshelf, because you'll quickly find you want Start Finishing always handy and right by your side." - Larry Robertson, Award-winning author of The Language of Man: Learning to Speak Creativity and A Deliberate Pause

"If you're a productivity junkie, a frustrated creator who perennially puts other things in front of your most meaningful work, or anyone else who wrestles with those 168 hours, you need to read Start Finishing. This book hit me like the secret keys to life. It made me understand why I've always punted my reason-for-living work to the bottom of my list, and how to build the rock-solid, regular creative practice I've always wanted while also getting my "day job" done more efficiently (and with more happiness and satisfaction) than I imagined possible. The book is concrete, so you get actual strategies instead of cheerleading. Well, Gilkey cheerleads too, but it's more about being kind to yourself, establishing right-sized expectations, connecting with others, and celebrating your wins-rather than just self-flagellating with the old self-discipline whip." - Miranda Hersey, Author of Press Pause: A Journal for Self-Care, Intention, and Slowing Down and Life by Design: 52 Lists, Questions, and Inspirations for Finding Your Happiness

"Start Finishing's chief distinction for many will be the uplifting and empowering tone Gilkey takes throughout the work. He places our destiny squarely in our own hands and makes a strong case that only through action, rather than blind inertia or luck, can we realize our ambitions and goals. This is a timeless message, it never dates, and in Gilkey's hands it comes across as indispensable wisdom applicable across a vast spectrum. Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done is a work you can revisit again and again and yield quantifiable results through each time." - Goodreads,

"Start Finishing [...] has the right length, language, and tone to have that effect on any readers open to its ideas and those who are will likely find themselves consulting its pages again and again long after reading the book for the first time. This is, perhaps, the highest praise you can bestow on any work - Start Finishing has enduring value rather than fly by night virtue and, ultimately, is more interested in individuals from every walk of life than it is ideas." - Mobangeles,

"Start Finishing lives up to its promise to help people get good work done… Clear and positive tones make it easy to follow along and learn how to act upon the book's ideas right away for fast results. [Charlie Gilkey] has lots of energy and eschews hype, extremism, and prescriptive thinking in favor of strategies that are realistic, sustainable, and adaptable…"Good work" isn't about completing a task; it's about fulfilling a dream, making the world better, and becoming who we want to be."  - Foreword Reviews,

"[Start Finishing] delivers an assortment of thoughts and strategies for isolating doable projects and ushering them across the finish line. […] The author's tone is infectiously upbeat and exceptionally forgiving. The "grind hard, grind harder, eventually die" attitude on prominent display in so many productivity books is entirely absent in these pages. In one crystal-clear insight after another, the author provides readers with an enormous trove of strategies designed to help them succeed, whether their key projects are business-related, creative, or personal. The author cautions readers that it's seductively easy to spend an entire life "in the meantime," never hunkering down to create their masterpieces. His comprehensive book is a formidable corrective to that inertia. A powerful and optimistic guide to clearing out the clutter and finishing your best work." - Kirkus Reviews,

"[Start Finishing is] a formidable accomplishment … [it is] a substantive look at how individuals can set about realizing their personal and professional ambitions in a systematic and steady fashion. Charlie Gilkey's Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done is a marvelous work that holds up under repeated reading and promises to offer something different with each new perusal of its pages." - The Indie Source,

"This is so much more than a productivity book - this is a book that will change your life. It goes beyond the tactical components of how to get things done faster/smarter/cleaner (fill in the blank) and gets to the heart of what needs to get done. Charlie doesn't hold back in us giving reality checks and calling us out on the barriers we create for ourselves and excuses we use to not start or get to done. But he does so with such care and compassion that you know it's only to push us forward and help us thrive." - Maghan Haggerty

"If you've wanted to do something but never got around to it, or had a great idea for a project but never put the pieces together, or you've got a project in your lap but it's a mess and you're stuck, not knowing what to do when or how... This book has got your back. Charlie understands. He's been there. Like all of us, he's failed plenty of times in life, but he's failed enough to see what works, and this book shows how he gets things done. (I've been reading how to 'get things done' books, productivity blogs and e-mails, for years. I love Charlie's distillation of - and importantly, gentle but accountable - methods to make plans, know why, and take action. It works. Heck, I applied the principles in the book to set aside the time to read the book! How many books have you started but haven't finished? Start Finishing really does level up your productivity skill set. It works those muscles in the right ways so you get better at getting things done. And that's something I now get to apply to my day job, side hustle, family projects, and creative work. Finishing work and getting it out in the world is a HUGELY important skill set that so many people lack nowadays (my hand raised first). There's resistance, confusion, stagnation, distraction... Charlie gets it, addresses it, and gives you tools to work through it. Books are one of the best investments you can make in upgrading yourself and your life, and this one is surely worth it. Highly recommended." - James M. Taylor

"As a creative entrepreneur and business builder, it's imperative that I have a system for getting my work done while balancing all of the things that life throws at me. START FINISHING offers the most practical method out there for helping creatives manage the emotional and tactical sides of completing important work. I can easily become overwhelmed with all the urgent tasks that inevitably show up every day and this book is the first one I've read that offers a do-able approach to starting AND finishing my most important work. Gilkey's book offers a fundamental shift in the way we think about doing creative work and will help you stay in control of your days, weeks, months, and quarters with precision planning and clarity. If you struggle with and endless to-do list and never quite feel like you have enough time to get things done, do yourself a HUGE favor and get yourself a copy of START FINISHING. This is one of those books that will stay on your desk for a long time as you continue referencing Charlie's useful insights and applying his simple and effective method to getting things done." - Michael Knouse

"As some other reviewers have said, I have read my fair share (make that 10 peoples' fair share) of self-help, productivity, and business books in my life. A lot of books are good, but it's a rare book that I would call truly a game-changer, and Start Finishing is one of them. I'm not even done with the book yet (over halfway through) and already it has helped me discern and clarify some massive things, including picking my next big project, which I have been "thrashing" peripherally around for at least a year. I have already made big progress with recruiting my Success Pack, which is a brilliant framework, and I know that the more of Charlie's strategies that I implement (instead of just read about and go "ooh, that's a good idea!"), this book will absolutely give me what I need to succeed with not only this project, but also the structure and flow of ALL my big projects to come, and the overall flow of my LIFE. This book is ambitious, but it's all value, zero fluff, and truly makes me feel both inspired AND like I have the concepts and tools I need to do more of my best work in the world." - Valerie M.

"Charlie Gilkey's book is amazing! I have been following some of the things he talks about on his website (Productive Flourishing) and book covers his system in one great package. This books for me has been a desperately needed life management help. I have been overworking, trying to do too many projects at once and totally burning out. His process for me was a reality check for what is really possible to do (without bringing yourself out) but how to do things, manage time, manage energy more efficiently. You an be quite productive without burnout and really it has helped me to be more successful. This book really has changed my life." - B. Kerschen

"So many of us have great ideas, plans and ideas that never really launch. This book is well written, laid out and broken down into the perfect bite-size snippets to get started and follow where the author is going. It's almost like text book. I love the style, the writing and easy to digest information. I have post it's and highlights everywhere. I can't put it down. If you're looking for a gentle push filled with great ideas and information you'll go back to time and time again, then this is the book for you. Work, personal life... it works for whatever your situation is you need to start finishing." - Myra View

Don't forget to check out the new Start Finishing Field Guide, the workbook companion of Start Finishing: How to Go From Idea to Done. Discover how it will help turn your passions into completed projects by clicking the link below.


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Join the Productive Flourishing Community

Productive Flourishing is a publication, podcast, and community for what we like to call "driven possibilitarians" — those who want to finish more of their best work, but do so in a way that balances productivity and thriving. Hence Productive AND Flourishing.

If the "hustle culture" of most productivity messaging puts you off, you'll find a home here.