If your days are filled with working and raising a family, it can be tough to find space for tackling personal projects. It doesn’t matter if it’s just buying a new pair of sunglasses, or renovating rooms in your house. These things stack up, and the weight of them creates its own angst. If you do have a few spare hours on a weekend, which should you tackle? And how can you keep them from eating up all spare time?
My solution to this has been to create a long list of such nagging projects, and then assign myself one per week beyond what has to get done. So, two weeks ago, I downloaded photos from our July (!) photo shoot, made a photo book, and chose my headshot. That weekend I also planned two kid birthday parties, but that had to get done. The photo stuff was the nice-to-do. And once it was done, it was done. I felt no pressure to do anything else.
You can put bigger items in the rotation, too, though that often involves other people. We moved into our house in PA in June, 2011, which is now more than 4 years ago. I had always hated the lighting in the kitchen. I also disliked the two ground floor powder rooms. They were just under-done. Purely functional. And while function is important, those are also the only two bathrooms most people visiting the house would use. I thought they should look better.
It took four years, but I finally got around to getting them redone! Please see photos. I’m happy with how they turned out. I also got the kitchen lighting switched. And now I feel like I don’t need to tackle any other house projects for a while.
What’s on your nagging project list?
In other news: I’m looking for examples of unanticipated-things-that-go-wrong with remote work locations. The coffee shop you chose was having a bagpipe concert — that sort of thing. Feel free to email me: lvanderkam at yahoo dot com.
11 thoughts on “Projects and progress”
I have a photobook that’s been in the works since July of last year (!). It was when hubby and I visited his hometown in Alaska. The pictures have been sitting in Shutterfly ever since. Can never seem to get around to doing it. The same goes for really cleaning out our cars..we just keep putting it off! Honestly, I find that writing a long to do list stresses me out since it looks terrible and daunting on paper.
@Etoile – for me, making the list gets it out of my head, where I might stew about it. If it’s on a list, and then there’s a scheduled time for it, I feel a lot more relaxed. But probably people with different personalities feel differently about this!
I’m an optimistic person, so I’ll give it a try. It’s worth actually getting the tasks done!
Digital photos. Always nagging at me.
@Katherine – what aspect – downloading? printing? organizing? I’m generally feeling like if I get 2 photo books a year all’s good – I’ll mostly have documentation of the year.
For me, it seems like it’s the stupid little things that just never get done. Replace the light bulb, take the recycling to the garage and sort it. That kind of thing. I know I should just do it when I notice it, but I don’t and then it just wears on me.
@Sarah – maybe designate a 10-minute spot per day for those things? You’d get some stuff done, not everything, but some – and that’s enough to make progress. And then it wouldn’t have to wear on you at other times…
I’ve found your tip about timing unpleasant tasks so that you’re realistic about how long they take and they weigh on you less really useful. Being more aware and realistic about timing is also good for positive tasks – I used to feel bad about spending too long chatting with friends and coworkers I bumped into on campus until I realised how little it took out of my day, and how much happier it made me.
Baby books are on my nagging project list, partially because I bought them before I started scrapbooking, and started writing in them, but now am no longer inspired by the “fill-in” format. But really, I just need to get them done and move on to projects I find more inspiring.
Powder room? It sounds so delicate and Edwardian, not your usual style.
I use Fancyhands to deal with a lot of these tasks. Sure it is in many ways crazily decadent to pay someone a couple of dollars to call & make an appointment when I could do it myself. But I hate making phone calls like that & I can email them the request at 2am. It’s a great way to get rid of little nagging jobs.