How to Get Things Done

Unfinished Project

Tackling a big project can bring a variety of emotions. We may feel excited about a promising outcome or anxious because we aren’t sure how to proceed.  But whether you are looking to build the house of your dreams or simply complete a school assignment, it is important to always approach a task with the following:

Often we jump into a project without a clear idea of how we will finish. I had a friend who finally got fed up with the ugly carpet in her living room one evening, and in a burst of frustration, jumped up and began ripping. As you can imagine, this resulted in a half-destroyed room, and no simple way to restore order.

With almost every project, preparation is about 70% of the job; before painting a room, you have to tape up the edges, seal off the outlets, move the furniture, put down the drop cloth, etc. Before writing a research paper, you have to gather resources, conduct interviews, take notes, and assemble information into an outline. This is the situation with almost every project! Unfortunately, preparatory work is often dry and unrewarding… but stay strong! It must be done, and if you work a carefully laid a plan, your progress will most likely be smooth.

I remember watching Martha Stewart on TV one day and she said that for every job there is a perfect tool. And you know what? She’s right! Have you ever tried to…

…remove wallpaper without a paper tiger?
…conduct online research with a poor internet connection?
…make muffins without a muffin tin?

No matter the job, it is critical to first gather the best tool(s)… it might save you literally hours of time. If you don’t know what the best tool is (e.g. when you are doing something for the first time), take a little time before hand to ask around. And remember, sometimes the right tool will be a person rather than a physical item. Be sure to include the cost of these tools when deciding when to start a new project.

This one is a little less obvious. Most of us are tempted to take shortcuts when working on projects: skim the book we’ve been assigned to read, fudge the numbers to get the right answer, paint a bench without first roughing up the surface.   It is human nature to want to jump to the end result. Periodically, we can get away with a less than stellar effort. However, a slipshod life approach will eventually exact revenge, and could end up costing a lot of time and money (as anyone who’s had a second-rate contractor knows!)

Anything worth doing is worth doing right. That doesn’t mean you need to be a perfectionist… we can’t do our best on every single task on the “to do” list. Rather, it means listening to the inner voice that tells you when you are “cheating” yourself, and then choosing to go the other way.

Do you have a project you are determined to tackle this year? What will you do to make sure you “get it done”?

20 thoughts on “How to Get Things Done”

  1. Really agree with everything! I have several projects in mind including redecorating our little bedroom and walk-in closet plus a lot of challenges like learning how to cook, hehehe. Many times I get crazy with all the inspirations that I just can’t decide. Boom. Thanks for these great tips Seana! 🙂

    1. Well thanks for reading, Rea:) I know exactly what you mean — dreaming is so fun, and then sometimes I want to just plunge in! Redecorating a small bedroom sounds particularly fun – good luck!

  2. This honestly sounds like my husband. Even when he’s making popcorn on the stove, and instructing me how, he’s showing me how ready he is with everything, even before the first kernel pops!
    Not a great example, but I tend to run into things and then kinda juggle too much at the end.
    However with photography, I start getting prepared way before a job.

    1. I think it’s interesting that with photography, you prep way in advance. I wonder what that says? Intentionality with this aspect of your life. I think this is so normal… we often give great focus and planning to one aspect of our lives, but perhaps enjoy being more relaxed about others (areas where spouses are more organized perhaps?)Great comment!

  3. I MUST de-clutter! My house is pretty de-cluttered, but I want to take it to the next level and the basement is still a disaster. Setting aside regular time on a weekly basis is my keep. AND it must go on my daily calendar. Otherwise, nothing gets done.

    1. I’m just like you, Kerith. If it doesn’t get scheduled on the my calendar, it doesn’t get done. There is just something about it being written down that makes me get going:)

    1. I know, Jill. It is boring, but then the actual work goes faster and ends up better. It is a tough lesson I’ve learned that prep is a part of EVERYTHING! Sigh… I love your husband’s saying – isn’t that the truth!

  4. This is great advice! I definitely think me and my husband could plan things a little better at times. We don’t do big projects like this though. I’m not sure either of us would want to right now in the place we are in our lives with a toddler and a baby on the way. I will keep this in the back of my mid for sure for any future projects!

    1. Thanks Brittnei! Life is all about seasons and timing, isn’t it? Just taking care of a little one and getting ready for a baby is a project in itself! Be well:)

  5. Stopping by from sits and I think these are great tips. I have so many projects I want to do that I get overwhelmed and nothing gets accomplished. I need to choose one, plan for it, buy what I need and not start another one until that’s complete. I feel like I have 5 half done projects all over the place.

    1. Most people struggle with the unfinished project conundrum, Melissa. It’s frankly more fun to start than to stay strong and finish, right? But getting something actually done is a terrific feeling, so I wish you luck. Thanks for stopping by, love SITS!!

  6. great tips once again babe. I know I tend to want to get thigns done NOW and often don’t think about the right tools or the best way to do it. So this was a great list to read…I know when I take my time, pick the best tools, and don’t do shortcuts it all works out.

    1. And even if it doesn’t work out, we are better able to handle the unexpected, right Karen? I’m always amazed at how much the right tool helps… I’m still working on that one!! Have a great day:)

  7. This is so true with household projects! I removed the wallpaper and painted a bathroom this year, and even though it seems like the prep takes just as long at the project, it makes everything easier in the end!

    1. That’s exactly it Ginny Marie… putting in the effort for the prep just makes it better in the end – even if it is terribly boring:)

  8. Great tips Seana and very timely. I was just thinking about this morning because all of my to do’s seem overwhelming. I want to redo by half bathroom and work on two gallery picture walls. I’m trying to break it down into smaller steps where I can spend at least 30 minutes a day working on a task that will get me to my goal.

    1. I definitely do better when I can break big projects down into smaller bits, Dawn. It feels less intimidating, and then I feel like I’m making progress. They sound like very rewarding projects, though!! Love to see before and afters:)

    1. I hate when that happens, Jessica! I’ve certainly been there many times. It’s a tough reality, isn’t it? Thanks for reading:)

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