Sick of Being Stuck: Project Possible

I’m excited! My wife and I purchased the absolutely perfect red paint to transform our front door into the warm and welcoming entry of my dreams… about a year ago. Yes, I’m serious. One. Year. Ago.

I crack myself up.

For example, yesterday, as I crafted the Day Five Challenge for Sick of Being Stuck September. My plan for today included knocking some projects off of our collective to do lists. I searched my brain for the best, most universally applicable examples. I hummed and pondered and wondered, trying to come up with projects that people already mentioned they needed to tend. I had nothing, nothing at all!

And then I thought, if I had projects to do, what would they be?

(Insert laughter.)

In a blink, I had a dozen on my page (insert more laughter). I’m the one hosting this clutter clearing adventure and that list had me wondering if I ever get anything done. Of course, I do. I’m rather productive but the same stuff, usually that which is just on the edge of my comfort zone, gets put off over and over again. There’s always plenty of stuff that’s easy to do (or practically on fire), so why would I stop to do a project that’s resting so comfortably on the back burner?

My job as a life coach is a big, fat, hysterical piece of humble pie. Every single time I think I’m coaching someone else, I realize that the lesson I offered them is for me, too. It seems that they are always for me. Every single time I support someone else, the message comes back and slaps me in the face. Gently, at first but if I don’t pull it together pretty quick… things get out of hand.

So, guess what I planned to do to celebrate Labor Day? Yes, it’s time to paint that door. I’m also decided (and committed) to clear out some junk in my trunk (of my car), to attempt to repair the hole in my son’s new favorite t-shirt, and … package up the treasures for those who accepted the DAY FOUR challenge. (It was a very important day so everyone who did the deed gets a treasure!)

I know how easy it is for projects to get piled up. In fact, at my house, they aren’t even piled up. They are more spread out here and there, a little in each room, side by side. That’s because everyone who lives here has some degree of anxiety about forgetting things. There’s a little voice in our heads that tells us that if we can’t see it, we won’t do it.

Well, guess what? If we don’t dedicate the resources–time, money, energy, etc.–we don’t do it anyway! And before long, the first begins to blend into the rest of them and we find ourselves with clutter and to do list drama.

Of course, there is good news. I always have some, right? And it’s always basically the same.

Next: It doesn’t have to be this way.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

I (and you) aren’t stuck here but, there is only one way out. It’s the same as everything else we will deal with during Sick of Being Stuck September. We have to stop and DEAL with our stuff, which of course means dealing with ourselves. It takes making a decision that we are unwilling to let another day close without bringing this situation to a resolution. Period.

That may mean:

  • Grabbing a screw driver
  • Going to the store for supplies
  • Calling the credit card company to make payment arrangements
  • Sitting down to sort the pictures
  • Reading the DAMN magazines
  • Searching the internet for a fix

To get it done, we have to decide on the necessary action… and then, we have to TAKE IT. Make no mistake, both parts are equally important.

Step One: Decide what needs to be done.

I find it’s very useful to have break it down into small steps, each with a verb and a noun. So, instead of adding “Clean house,” to my list, I might say:

Clean upstairs bathroom
Clean downstairs bathroom
Change out towels
Wash laundry
Put laundry away
Vacuum upstairs
Vacuum downstairs
Vacuum the damn stairs (I don’t love that part.)
Mop kitchen floor

I can add the other elements, like dusting and cleaning the windows, and make a comprehensive list. This detailed approach helps me for a number of reasons. First, I have days that I’m so overwhelmed by the realities of that list that I can’t remember what “clean house” actually means. I just walk in circles–hating my life and my house and myself–until I remember that I have a laptop with an Internet connection to help lull me back to sleep. Sucker. On those days, I need actionable items (the noun/verb combo is powerful… do this to this).

Basically, I need my list to boss me around.

Second, I am a check box slut. It’s true, I am. I love the sense of accomplishment that comes from saying to the piece of paper that’s bossing me around, “I did that! What’s next?” There is something about the way my brain works, something related to the thing they call ADHD, that keeps me from experiencing the natural euphoria that normally follows accomplishment. I don’t get the surge of happy feelings that I read about in my Intro to Psych textbook. No high at all, just moving on. Checking the items off of that list forces me to see what I’ve accomplished. It anchors my success for me and I promise, that’s a good thing.

Next: I wander off.

Third, I wander off. It’s pretty bad. I sometimes feel sorry for my people because I love them. I really do, and living with me isn’t so easy. If my wife was up on the roof, needing a hammer, it may not be a safe bet to send me to fetch one. Yes, sometimes it is that serious.

On my way to the shed to get the hammer, I’d see the empty bird feeder. So, I’d fetch the seeds from the pantry to fill that up and then, I’d notice the tomatoes that are ripe and I’d pick them. Thinking they’d be nice on a salad, I’d notice that it was almost lunch time and I’d head into the kitchen to prepare a feast. Of course, then I’d see that we are out of cucumbers… and oh, how I just love cucumbers on my salad. So naturally, I’d go to the store.

And, there’s a good chance I might not even notice that I knocked the ladder over when I backed out of my parking spot, leaving my beloved on the roof without a hammer, or a way down. You see how easy it is to lose a girl like me? Like I said, I wander off. They know about it, and plan accordingly. But, I’m in charge of the every day maintenance of my distracted self. The list keeps me on track. Without it, I can look up and realize that it’s already tomorrow.

Step Two: Do it.

It’s seriously that simple. If you’re feeling stuck and there are any projects hanging out among the stacks of clutter, then you have to decide what to do… and do it. If there are lots of projects, then you have to repeat the first two steps over and over until it’s all nice in your world again. See? Isn’t this fun? Oh, there’s one more thing.

Sometimes, it’s not worth it. Not. Freaking. Worth. It.

My son’s otherwise still new looking shirt is worth the energy it’s going to take me to fix it, if I can. (Update: I rocked that shirt, by the way.) My pants, which also have a hole, are tired and old and not worth it to me. Sometimes, I create the time necessary to catch up on the magazines and sometimes I simply remind myself that what goes around, comes around works especially well for magazines. It allows me to release them, knowing that any precious thing I need to know will come back to me in another issue or by some other form.

Sometimes, I decide that it’s just not worth to keep saying I am going to do a project. I could simply walk away from the whole door painting thing and I find a new home for the paint. Not this time, of course, that door is going to be red. Period. But, I’ve done it before. If you don’t have the resources to do something you’d previously committed to doing, just bail. Call it done.

The key here is to do it or don’t but, if you’re not going to do this project in a timely manner… let it go.

Today, I made a box for all of my crafty projects. It has a scarf that got hard, so I wandered off, and a hat that I can’t figure out how to finish, so I wandered off. Also, there’s a big bowl/basket made of recycled blue jeans that I want to take apart to make three smaller bowls/baskets, and a quilt I mean to tie dye. I put them all in this box and labeled it with an expiration date one month from today.

This will keep the “I meant to…,” from going on forever. Otherwise, it totally will. I know this because I’ve met me before. If I want a different outcome, I’ve got to do something different.

Step One: Decide what needs to be done. Step Two: Do it. Got it? (Hopefully, I do too.)

And, if clutter is your thing, it’s not too late to join Sick of Being Stuck September! Just click here to register, and dig right into the archived daily challenges, extraordinary resources, and first rate community of support that seems to be growing by the hour (It feels that way to me, at least!).

Image Credit:  Steve-h via Flickr

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Anne F.
Anne F.4 years ago

Love the clarity. Projects get done when we devote our time, talent, and treasure to doing the projects. It really is about deciding what to do with this hour, isn't it?

Angi W.
Angi B.4 years ago

This so sounds like me and even before I read this I had decided this weekend was the weekend for finally finishing painting a room I started on but have not got back to. Now I'm really going to do it! :)

Tana M.
Tana D.4 years ago

I'm a To-Do list addict. I have to make the list and then cross off each item. Heck, I even divide it up more than you do (i.e. under laundry there will be a mini-list listing the various loads). I have quite a few projects that need to be done and keep getting put off for one thing or another. If my fiance was up on the roof needing a hammer, he'd get it...eventually as I tend to get distracted by other things but I generally do get around to doing what he asked. Sounds like Sick of Being Stuck is going great!

KARLOLINA G.4 years ago

Thank you

KAREN L.4 years ago

First I'm going to have breakfast, then put some clothes in the washing machine............and then today's project is to move the stove and clean under and behind....yuk...but have been putting it off...............then it's back to MY work!.....maybe I should make check off lists because the stove has been waiting for a long time!

Ellen Mccabe
ellen m.4 years ago

More of a snot than a snob...
That being said, putting thing off may not always work, but it does show the hope of another tomorrow, which in itself is a good thing!

Geetha Subramaniam

Thank you for posting.

Crystal Wagner
Crystal Wagner4 years ago

Yay Christy! (btw, better check on the wife...just sayin')

janet T.
janet T.4 years ago

If it is this hard to get things done, I would suggest one thing at a time. People who have tons of things to do and lists of things hardly ever get them done. I think of it more in areas. Like front yard, or back, potting bench, sewing room. No more than 3 things planned to do without finishing something. Then I can think of adding something else to the to do list in my head.

Lynn C.
Lynn c.4 years ago

I used to be a "say it - get it done" sort of person. The problem was the lists kept getting longer and longer because people knew I would do what I said and would do and ask for more and more. It took a long time to learn how to say no and not feel guilty. So the upshot is, that I've learned to put things on the back burner and give myself time to do what I'm doing right now! Keeping in touch with the rest of the world and taking time out to read and other enjoyable things. Sometimes, I look around and see little naggy things that I was going to do, but the truth is they'll get done and in the meantime, I've begun to get a life.