Do you have a list of unfinished projects you want to complete? If so, are there some that:
- have been on there for years?
- you never started?
- you started but never finished?
If your answer is “yes” to any of these, you need to read this blog AND sign up for my 5-Day Challenge: “Start & Finish ANY Project!” In it, I divulge my 3 secrets/resources to successfully start and finish any project (whether organizing-related or not).
And though I refer to them as “secrets,” they really aren’t. They merely are steps that most people skip intentionally or not. So don’t make the same mistake that others do. Learn, practice, and implement these 3 “secrets” to success.
What is a Project?
But before we go any further, what exactly is a project? Is it a 10, 50, or worse yet, a 100-step process you need to complete to achieve the desired result? Thankfully, the answer is no. According to Getting Things Done author and guru David Allen, projects are defined as “outcomes that will require more than one action step to complete and that you can mark off as finished in the next 12 months.” I love 2 things about this definition:
- you only have to have a minimum of 2 action steps for something to be considered a project. In my opinion, it’s not as intimidating
- your project should have a completion due date within 12 months
In my opinion, the completion due date draws a clear line in the sand between those projects that are a priority (complete within one year) and all the rest which can be moved to a “Maybe Someday” category.
Consequences of Unfinished Projects:
Before I delve into my 3 secrets, I want to address some of the negative consequences that can result if you don’t complete projects:
- can possibly result in physical issues (i.e. stress, anxiety, insomnia, etc.)
- it can do a number on your self-esteem and cause you to feel overwhelmed/guilty/like a failure
- hold you back from completing related projects if it’s a “stepping stone” to them
- you could earn a bad reputation particularly if others are depending on you to complete them
- low confidence may prevent you from starting any other projects
You Have 2 Options:
As I see it, you have two options when it comes to projects:
- Be Stagnant: You can keep doing exactly what you’re doing with no personal growth whatsoever. In other words, do the same thing even if you failed. The result? You’ll probably have the same result of failure. As they say, the definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over yet expecting a different result. Is this the best option? I think not, so read on for option number two, which happens to be my recommendation.
2. Learn & Grow: You can do things differently by listening and executing my 3 secrets to completing any project! I’m not going to lie and say it’s quick or it’s easy. It’s quite the opposite. It requires effort and requires you to dig deep. And if you’re still reading this, I’m very impressed that I haven’t scared you off yet so keep reading and let’s cut to the chase.
DRUMROLL PLEASE…My 3 Secrets:
I like to keep things simple and easy to remember so I named my secrets accordingly to make them as easy to remember as A, B, and C:
2. Big Picture Planning
Using the secrets/information I provide, this requires giving in-depth thought to your project before you do anything else. In addition, it requires documenting those thoughts via a journal of sorts. Now please don’t be one of these people who goes running off as soon as you read the word “journal.” The 3 simple journal steps should help you think about the project in new ways that should assist in its completion. I know you’ll be tempted to skip this step but you can’t. It’s a critical cog in the wheel of your journey to success!
A. SMART Goal: Turn your project goal into a SMART goal. In other words, make it:
Let me provide two different examples to differentiate an “unsmart” goal (too vague) from a SMART one (very specific). One is organizing-related; the other is not.
Example 1: Organizing-related:
- Unsmart Goal: Organize my pile of paperwork
- SMART Goal: Spend 15 minutes per day decluttering the piles of paperwork on my home office desk so 1) the project is complete by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, 08/31/22, 2) my desk is clear of clutter and 3) all papers have either been filed systematically, recycled or shredded as necessary.
Example 2: Health-related:
- Unsmart Goal: To start a walking program
- SMART Goal: With my doctor’s approval, increase my exercise from 0 to 30 minutes minimum per day walking (either all at once or cumulatively by the end of the day) starting today for 30 days to improve my health and increase mobility.
B. Your “Why”:
Why do you want to complete this project? You need to document 3-5 reasons why. This will be your north star in case you get stuck or lose your motivation. Below I provide one example of “why” for each SMART goal listed above:
Example 1 Why do you want to clear your desk of paperwork piles?
- eliminate physical distractions
- purge unnecessary paperwork
- only retain essential paperwork that I’ll be able to find within five minutes because I filed it systematically.
Example 2 Why do you want to begin a walking program?
- your doctor recommended you start a daily walking program
- you’re tired of feeling tired and you’re finally ready to take action
- you plan to do a lot of walking during your upcoming vacation in 2 months so you want to build up your stamina
C. Change your Mindset/Story:
Old: What negative thoughts about your ability/skills (or lack thereof) go through your mind when you think about tackling a project? For example, do you immediately think of the projects you’ve started and failed or perhaps all the projects you always wanted to start but never did? That doesn’t help much in the way of inspiration or motivation.
OLD mindset example: I’ll never be able to complete this project. I’ve tried so many times before and have given up every time.
New: It’s time to change your mindset and create new stories. Think about a project, any project that you successfully completed. Think about the knowledge and skills you used to complete that project so you can exacerbate the old story and replace it with your “new” one.
NEW mindset example: I know I can start and finish this project by learning Brenda’s secrets, taking action, and reporting my progress to my accountability partner during regularly scheduled meetings.
2. Big Picture Planning:
This is when you create your Action Plan. In other words, this is when you brainstorm, then prioritize the steps need to start and finish your project. Components include:
A. Brain dump of the steps required. Prioritize/Adjust as necessary.
B. A realistic estimate of how long each step will take
C. Estimate the day/timeframe you will complete each step; which is then also transferred to your calendar, to-do list, or whatever tool you use to accomplish critical daily tasks.
3. Commit with an Accountability Partner:
It’s so common to be excited about a project, start it and then stop. Maybe it’s because something more important came up or because you got stuck on a step and don’t know what to do next.
I have two suggestions to help you with this step:
A. Join my Facebook group called “Weekly Goal Accountability At Your Fingertips”. In addition to getting inspiration and motivation, I invite you to post your goal, your action steps, your progress and your success at the end if you wish.
I’m also here for you if you get stuck along the way. In the Facebook Accountability group,
- post your questions
- where you’re stuck
- what you’re feeling, thinking, etc.
- what’s getting in the way (physical, mental, emotional, etc.)
B. Ask an objective family member, friend, co-worker, etc., to help you commit. Schedule regular meetings with them to report your progress… even if you haven’t completed the task(s) at hand. Research shows you have a 95% probability of completing your goal, promise, task, or activity if you have regular accountability appointments with a person you’ve committed to.
So are you ready to commit? Are you ready to do the work? No leprechauns will complete your projects for you. As they say, JUST DO IT! I’m here to hold your hand and help you successfully complete your realistic and achievable SMART goal! Want even more information? Check out yet another one of my goal-setting blogs.
SO HOW DO YOU GET STARTED? It’s 3 EASY steps:
- Click here to join my 5 Day Challenge “How to Start & Finish ANY Project”
- Learn/Execute my 3 Secrets/resources
- Do the work!
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”Chinese Proverb
LET ME HELP YOU:
What project(s) are you stuck on that you want/need to complete and why? Please elaborate below– I’d love to help!
Brenda Tringali, CPO® (Certified Professional Organizer)
Organizing | Productivity | Speaker
At Your Fingertips Organizing
Serving Greater Myrtle Beach, SC or “virtually” anywhere via video
Brenda Tringali is the owner of At Your Fingertips Organizing. She provides Speaking, Organizing & Productivity services to Workplace/Residential clients both in person in the greater Myrtle Beach, SC area & “virtually” anywhere else via video, phone, etc. Brenda is an active member of NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing professionals) and the former Chair of NAPOCares, NAPO’s Social Responsibility Committee.