Taming the Project

Recently I have written of my housekeeping lessons squeezed out of my sister.

Quick Recap: Do something about what bugs YOU! Then, as you keep doing that, you'll get to the stuff that would normally be a higher priority according to conventional wisdom. Sister's method is not and does not resemble conventional wisdom.  However, it does work on the accumulative principal of synergy. (My research finds this out). And here's the most important part--it works. Reminder: Money matters first, bugs you second.  Result: Peace of mind and calm

Here's a lesson on projects that is really helping me.

When I started to clear my desk--picture two-foot stacks with six inches of desk space showing--I was following instructions to label each project. Uh, well, that would have taken a decade, putting each project in a file folder would have taken a half a millennium!

1. I had some card stock close to hand and just tore some in four pieces and used a box of paperclips to paperclip each torn card label to each new piece of paper that was a project.
2. I used a marker to write the project name on the label.
3. I wrote the name of the project on a list as I worked down the piles.
Yes, I created new piles, but as I went I kinda sorted by project label. As I came across items for a previously labeled project I put them together. I used the written list to determine how far down the new pile the project had to be.

I had some old file folders labeled Jan-Dec. I scattered the projects through the year. The written list has the month I put each in.  I keep the written list on the desk to see what I have and to remind me not to add to the future burden.

At the beginning of each month,  I make a sticky note for each project name in that month and put it on my calendar. As I start work on each project I put the very next possible thing to do on each. As that next possible thing is done, I put a little date there and figure out the very next action that can be done on it.

Example: Project is New Back Door
   Next Action: Measure current door and door hole.
   Next Action: Place measurements in organizer in purse
   Next Action: Plan on shopping for door so put possible locations on next town
                        day list as places to go
   Next Action: Purchase door
   Next Action: Arrange for installation

Yay me. Managed to get new door installed this last Saturday as well as four new hallway ceiling lights. Two projects off list. It may have seemed simplistic for me to have to write and do each of the Next Action things, but when I didn't a couple of more weeks passed before I got to them. The torn-edged label also had the telephone number and e-mail address of the installer so that I could send him pictures of the old door, communicate where he had to pick up the door, etc. I also dated each action on completion so that I could remember when I last talked to the installer.

I expect this is good training for all of those writerly projects that will hit me if I ever go under contract. I encourage myself by thinking that. Best part? The projects are actually getting done instead of stacking up.  This I like.


Rox Delaney said...

Nina, would you come to my office and sort my piles? Okay, there are boxes of piles, some that have been sorted to be tossed, shredded, or taken to the recycle center. If I didn't have them around, I would have room to enjoy the space.

Oh, and my big file cabinet could use some help, too. ☺

Nina Sipes said...

I would love too for everyone can attest, doing someone else's work is always more fun than your own and you get to feel so good about bringing order AND being good to someone else.

However, I can also help immediately if you'll just do it. Let go of your determination to do the right thing for others and do it for yourself. Take the boxes you know you're getting rid of to the dumpster. You'll feel better NOW.

On the other hand, if you absolutely cannot let go of your boxes, put it all in your car, look at your calendar for this week, and arrange things so that the stuff is out of there.

I have read about this other method, but have not tried it--no guts. Box up your stuff, date it and put on the outside approximately what might be inside. Store it out of the way, (behind couch, under bed, basement, garage, whatever). In five years toss it un-seen.
Yup, that's a tough one.