Finish it! Erin’s third set of 2010 resolutions

First things first — How is it July already? Honestly, I am flabbergasted that my calendar doesn’t say April. Time is definitely playing a trick on me this year.

Even though I am in denial about it being July, another three months have passed and my second set of 2010 resolutions have come to a close. Today begins my third set of resolutions for the year.

My second quarter resolutions to plant and tend to an herb and vegetable garden, take a knife skills class, and go rock climbing were all achieved. However, completing all 67 tasks on the “Spring Cleaning for the Overachiever” list from Unclutter Your Life in One Week are not finished — I have 13 more projects left to do. And, I’ve got three more rooms to sort through for my minimizing project.

I was obviously much more interested in learning how to climb up the side of a mountain than I was to take on my kitchen cabinets. Which, if you knew me in the world beyond your computer screen, would actually surprise you. I’m quite terrified of heights and am still shocked that I went through with the rock climbing lessons. (Even more so since I spent most of April and part of May in a wheelchair and on crutches.) My only explanation is that I was greatly motivated by Christopher McDougall’s book Born To Run and his amazing stories about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico.

Okay, that is enough about the old, let’s talk about the new.

My resolutions for the third quarter of 2010:

  • Identify all of my unfinished projects.
  • Finish ALL of my unfinished projects.
  • Take on no new projects until all old projects are finished. (This one might be impossible, but I’m going to give it my best.)

These resolutions do not apply to on-going projects (such as my life), but tangible projects I’ve started and never finished. There are dozens upon dozens of these in my home right now — I need to sew a band around the edge of the quilt I made for my son, finish my second quarter uncluttering and spring cleaning tasks, my next book proposal is written but not edited, I recently discovered a box of photographs that were never digitally scanned, and many more projects similar to this stand in limbo.

I have so many unfinished projects right now that I sincerely don’t know if three months is enough time to accomplish all of them. What is worse is that I have so many unfinished things that I’m going to have to walk through my house and make a list to get an idea of all I have to do. Now is when all the energy I worked on obtaining during the first quarter of 2010 is going to be put to use. Wish me luck!

How are you doing with your 2010 resolutions? Even if you don’t keep resolutions, could you spend the next three months finishing all of the unfinished projects in your life? If so, join me on my adventure. My goal is to head into the fourth quarter of 2010 with more energy and less stress.

24 Comments for “Finish it! Erin’s third set of 2010 resolutions”

  1. posted by Michele Connolly, Get Organized Wizard on

    Wow Erin – you’re gonna finish ALL your projects? That’s ambitious – but good luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ve set 3 mid-year resolutions:

    1. Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.
    2. When Iโ€™m in a tense environment, focus on breathing.
    3. Finish my writing tasks first each day.

    To maximize my chance of sticking to these resolutions, I’m using my own 3-Cubed Formula, which I describe here:

    How To Change Habits: My 3-Cubed Formula

  2. posted by seano on

    So how do you determine what is a project versus what is something you just put on a todo list, or otherwise ‘just do it’?

    I feel like there are lots of loose ends to tie up around the house / etc, but I don’t know if I would qualify them as ‘projects’.

  3. posted by Handy Man, Crafty Woman on

    This is a great idea: I’ve started an unfinished projects list. Not all of the projects I need to do are huge, but writing them all down helps me to prioritize, etc.

  4. posted by Erin Doland on

    @seano — I’m determining what goes on my list based upon how many times something needs to be done. If it’s a one-time thing (finish quilt) it goes on the list. If it’s a recurring thing (laundry, dishes) it isn’t going on my list.

  5. posted by Marcie Lovett on

    Well done, Erin. Creating realistic goals is important; otherwise, people end up feeling like failures for not doing everything they say they will.

    By the way, I would choose cabinets over a mountain any day.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your projects.

  6. posted by Meg on

    I think I might be too scared to face the “unfinished project” list! But here goes, and it is similar to yours:

    1. list all unfinished projects
    2. Identify all time-sensitive (seasonal, etc.) projects and finish them.
    3. Do writing jobs first every day.

    Hmmm. That might be manageable.

    I love this blog.

  7. posted by M on

    Sometimes, identifying what the obstacle is to finishing the project is critical. Breaking those obstacles into smaller parts, can help unblock the logjam. I too have lists of unfinished projects. There are weeks where my only task is to “close the loop” on what I’ve started. That is actually very satisfying, because since I’ve already started, it goes quickly..

  8. posted by Kathryn Fenner on

    Wow–this really hit home. I can do a lot of uncluttering by simply finishing (or permanently abandoning and clearing out) projects!

  9. posted by WilliamB on

    I have far too many unfinished projects to finish in a quarter – maybe that means my list is just too expansive? I am going to sort my list by unstarted vs unfinished, and one time vs recurring. Maybe a grid is better than a list.

    This year I did something unusual: I made resolutions and I made them very specific. Not “exercise more” but “exercise 3 times a week.” I have a chart to keep track. Every week I miss some targets but I’ve improved vastly on all counts. Works for me.

  10. posted by Lindsay on

    I used to consider it a sin to have unfinished projects, and some ADD guru I was listening to states, as damning evidence against some super-motivated ADD adults that they may finish 100 projects in a year but they started 300. Well, I decided that I don’t have to finish every project. If I start a project and stop working on it, sometimes it’s because I lost interest in it, or decided it wasn’t worth it (like when you start into a book and realize it’s crap). Why should I waste my time completing it? Life is too short. A percentage of my unfinished projects end up just getting scrapped or they become clutter. In some cases (necessities) I will break down and hire someone else to do it.

  11. posted by Patti on

    I’m glad to know that even uncluttering authors have a houseful of unfinished projects too! ๐Ÿ˜‰ *fist bump*

    I like your idea of quarterly resolutions/”to do list” … much more manageable way to “eat the elephant.”

    I’ll post my unfinished list over in the forum, for accountability’s sake.

  12. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Lindsay — For me, “finishing” might very well mean that I trash a project completely. Not making a decision about something, though, IS clutter. If I’m bored with it and ready to move on, then I need to reclaim the space and get rid of the project. Just letting it sit there is cluttering up my home and mind, and that’s not good.

  13. posted by TanyaZ on

    I had an “unfinished projects” project last year, and it really felt good to have things out of my way. Now, I have accumulated more, so I am in on the resolution!

    I already have a good list of unfinished projects – they sit in my iPhone to do list, often overdue 8-() I am going to start with those.

  14. posted by JC on

    I agree that finishing a project does not mean you have to complete it. I sew/create, a lot. I used to have several projects going at a time. Then I realized that I had all these unfinished projects taking up space. I spent an afternoon going through them deciding which I really wanted to complete, which ones I didn’t but could repurpose the materials, and which were just gonners. Now I only have one project of each type going at a time: one garment, one quilt, one crochet, etc. I have also been more accountable in my purchases. I have to have a specific project in mind before I purchase materials that will take up precious space. I confess that don’t always follow this rule when I find a great deal on high quality items that I know I will use. This is now more of a current/recurring system now.

    I have a few unfinished projects, but I think I could safely finish them in the next three months. My problem is the many projects that need to be done that I haven’t even started. I skipped spring cleaning altogether, but I really need to do it. Instead of having it loom over my head, I’ve broken it down into smaller bits and will start with the smallest room in the house so I can have positive forward movement in a relatively short period of time to keep me going.

  15. posted by chacha1 on

    Breaking projects down into discrete components has been key for me.

    When the amount of time you really have “free” to attend to projects is only two hours a day, it’s just too discouraging to look at a project list where everything is a multi-day affair!

    But there’s always time for a fifteen or thirty minute component of the larger project.

    My most important goal for the year was to get outside more with DH. We’re both finding ways to make that happen.

  16. posted by luxcat on

    inspiring post and well-timed for me… I just cleaned out a huge pile of paper (personal and work stuff, I work from home) that has been haunting me for a while, and organized all my unfinished projects (large and small) onto a “dump list”… basically I dump it all on a list, then sort into a) do ASAP b) throw out project c) assign time to do later

    this post inspired me to make “later” by the end of the year, getting rid of some projects on my list that have lingered far too long…

  17. posted by Debbie Rosemont on


    Great list. I love that this quarter you’re going to finish already started project (or decide to scrap them all together) instead of starting or adding new things on your list or into your life.

    Might I offer a suggestion? You mention that you likely have more unfinished projects than can be accomplished in a 3 month time period. Consider the following process:

    1. List them all (if they are not already captured on paper, do so). This eliminates the stress we have when we try to remember things, or have loose ends nagging on our minds.
    2. Cross off projects that no longer interest you and let them go.
    3. Delegate what you can (where you have the resources) to someone else who may be able to finish the project faster, more effectively, or for a lower “cost” than you can. This frees up your time to do the things that only you can do (or that you love to do or do best).
    4. Prioritize your list. Ask yourself – what’s the one thing, that if I got it done first, would make the biggest difference for myself, my family, my life, my business, etc.. That’s #1. Then ask – what’s the next thing that would make the biggest difference? You get the idea. This ensures that if it all doesn’t get done, those that are priorities are attended to.
    5. Focus on one project at a time until completion. You know what they say about Multitasking these days – its just not effective.

    Good luck with your list!

    Thanks for the inspiring and informative posts. I like they way you’ve committed to quarterly “resolutions”. Great idea!

  18. posted by Susan Lewis on

    Love this. Terrified by it. Just thinking about how many things could go on a list of unfinished projects and tasks already has me overwhelmed. Started listing just _categories_ for things to fall under and scared myself. And maybe I’m thinking too far down into discrete tasks and not enough on the project level. But, I’ve got two notebooks here ready to just to start making my lists. Scared, but not going to back down. Good luck with completing your resolution!

  19. posted by OogieM on

    I use the GTD method to prioritize and triage unfinished projects. A project is anything that will take more than 1 step to complete and some projects are “active” and some are in the “someday/maybe” list. Active projects must be defined to the single “next action: that will move them forward, no matter how small. The rest are someday/maybe. I might do them someday but not now, or I am not sure I will ever do them because I haven’t decided yet so maybe. I try to look at those once a week or so, during a weekly review, to see if I can delegate or delete or need to make active those projects.

  20. posted by Nancy on

    My knitting group just had an unfinished project competition, and it was great. I finished a bunch of projects, some that had been hanging around for years, some with really minimal finishing required.

    We all documented our lists publicly at the start and marked things off our list as we finished. So we had public accountability, plenty of support, and a deadline – all really motivating.

  21. posted by Robin Mohr on

    Finishing things is my main resolution for this year. Halfway through, I’m almost there. Only one more really big project that will be a great relief when it’s done.

    My second half of the year resolution is about my personal health: I have to make time to exercise vigorously at least twice a week. (I already walk at least 20 minutes on my way to and from work, but that’s not quite enough.)

  22. posted by Tracy Lee on

    Hi Erin,

    I like your quarterly resolutions – started making my own and hope the 3 month time period will be a good guide.

    I have a number of quilts to finish on my to-do list, and I wanted to share this great tutorial for putting on a binding (which I think is what you probably need to finish) – http://heatherbailey.typepad.c.....index.html – I love stitching the binding on, its a nice and relaxing way to finish the quilt with hand stitching. Best!

  23. posted by Anita on

    Well done, Erin, and good luck with the next set!

    Much has changed since my last check-in with myself, so my resolutions need rewriting. As of now, they are:
    1. Work: advance my photography business (this encompasses a long list of projects that I won’t bore you with) so that I can quit my day job in a year or so and focus on photography exclusively.
    2. Fitness and Diet: get back into running and train for a 5k in September (getting back into a running routine after injuries is not as fun as I thought) and, at least until the fall, have salad as one of my daily meals (either lunch or dinner. It’s amazing how many salad variations you come up with when you make yourself stick to this.)
    3. Personal: find an apartment to move into with the boyfriend (planned for September/October) and sort and move all of our stuff without either of us going insane (I may need help with this…).

    I love the unfinished project idea, though, might try to work that in there.

  24. posted by Rachel on

    I’ve done a ton of decluttering while going minimalist this year. I have to say, some of the most freeing (and difficult) decisions were the ones where I got rid of unfinished projects. Unread books were also wonderful to get off my bookshelf.

    I definitely encourage anyone with your goals to get rid of as many projects as you can, and then you’ll be left with the ones you’ll really benefit from finishing. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck!

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