September resolution wrap up and introduction of October’s goal

September passed in the blink of an eye (a very grey and wet blink for those of us in the Mid-Atlantic), and I’m still in shock that it is already October. My resolution for ultra-speedy September was to finish an unfinished project, and I met this goal in the technical sense.

By “technical sense” I mean that half-way through the month I realized I had no desire to continue working on the project and paid someone to finish the work for me. It was $40 well spent, in my opinion. Had the charge been more than $100, I likely would have kept trudging along on the project myself. But, for a one-time cost of $40, I was happy to let someone else take care of it. Now there are just two items on my list of unfinished projects, and my hope is to finish them by the end of the year.

With unfinished items there are usually just two reasons they sit unfinished — a shift in priorities (something else becomes more important) and hitting a wall (don’t have the skills or materials required to continue working). In both cases, you have to decide if you should abandon the project completely or find a way to get the work done. Letting an unfinished project stay unfinished causes stress and guilt, neither of which are complimentary to an uncluttered life. Choosing to have someone else complete an unfinished project for you can be one way to get the item off your to-do list and this decision should be based on a number of factors:

  • Time involved lining up someone to do the work (in this case, I already had a contact so it was only a few minutes). The time involved to line someone up to do the work and your management of that work should not exceed the amount of time it would take you to do the work yourself.
  • Time involved to complete the work (would have been about 12 hours for me, 5 hours for the specialist). If it would take a more qualified person less time than you to complete a project, having that professional do the work may make sense.
  • Your interest in doing the work (very low). Even though you may value the final outcome, you may not be the best person to do the work, especially if you have little desire to do it.
  • Trust that the other person will complete the work to your standards (high, based on previous experience working with this person). The work doesn’t have to be perfect, but you shouldn’t have to hire another person or waste a significant amount of time redoing the outsourced work.
  • Appropriateness of someone else doing the work (fully appropriate for someone else to do it, didn’t have to be me). It may not always be appropriate — especially at your job — to pass the work along to someone else. For example, Senators often have to make their own photocopies because their staffers don’t have the security clearance to see the information being photocopied.
  • Costs involved (it would have been $0 had I done the work, but only $40 for someone else to do it).

Do you have unfinished projects camping out on your to-do list? If you do, now might be the best time to either trash the project or outsource the work to someone else. It could also be the time for you to create action items and get working on the project yourself.

For October, my resolution is to improve my posture. After reading Willpower and learning that something as simple as reminding yourself to stand up straight can increase self-control and resolve in other areas of life, I have decided to try it. My posture is awful and even if my overall willpower doesn’t improve, at least my posture will. But, since willpower is such an essential component for staying uncluttered and organized, I’ll eagerly try something as simple as working on my posture as a monthly resolution.

Erin’s 2011 monthly resolutions: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, and September.

20 Comments for “September resolution wrap up and introduction of October’s goal”

  1. posted by Kay on

    I got a blue StayBall solved living room computer corner seating and Improves Posture!!!!! Love “Unclutterer”!!

  2. posted by Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life on

    I have been sitting on a website idea for a long time because I know html and some css and figured I should build the site myself instead of paying someone else. After not doing anything with it for over a year, though, I decided that my desire to save money and do it myself was causing it to not get done at all. I found a designer within my budget, and now it’s going to get done! It’s such a relief. And even if it’s not perfect, I have the skills to tweak it, so it’s a win-win.

  3. posted by Lauren on

    I love the idea of doing this kind of cost-benefit analysis of outsourcing certain tasks. I find it easy to get caught up in the idea that it’s wrong to pay someone to do something I could do myself for free. But there can be other hidden non-monetary costs in time and stress that you should take into account. It sounds like your $40 was well-spent, Erin!

  4. posted by Steph on

    Earlier in the year I also made it a point to work on my posture. I have found that simply hearing or seeing the word ‘posture’ makes me sit up straight (I immediately corrected myself while reading this post!). I have the word printed out and pinned to a wall in my cube at work, and every time I see it I correct myself. A really simple way to work on it!

  5. posted by Kate on

    Improving my posture was one of my three New Year’s resolutions. I have been doing okay when I’m walking or standing, but lord you know you are slouching at your desk when your BOSS comments on it!

  6. posted by Kris on

    Erin, here’s another way to look at your situation, i.e. hiring someone to complete your task for $40, thus saving you the 12 hours it would have taken you to do it on your own:

    You spent $40, but you gained 12 hours of your time. Thus you gained 12 hours at a cost of only $3.33 per hour. ($40/12 = $3.33.)

    Good decision!

  7. posted by Laura, The "Argie" on

    I made a similar decision. I had my september resolution project in its way to be finished way slower than I expected. I definitely could not finish it myself. So i asked my mom’s help to crochet with me. That agve me time to finish the squiares of my blancket while she sew together the ones that were already done. We are now very close to finishing it! And it makes me happy that we are actually sharing an activity in the evenings. All benefits!!!

  8. posted by Emily on

    Erin, what are you planning to do to work on your posture? I’m a lifelong sloucher and have yet to find a way that I kept at for more than a few days (maybe that’s where the willpower thing comes in?).

    Perhaps post-it notes all over the house that say “sit up straight” or “stand tall”?

  9. posted by Maid Service in The Woodlands TX on

    Delegate whenever possible, especially if it’s a task you don’t enjoy doing or can’t do as well as a professional service. This frees up your time to play to your strengths.

  10. posted by Jonathan @ punchlifeintheface on

    This sounds to me like a great application of the concept of opportunity cost. The opportunity cost of doing the work yourself would have been 12 hours you could have spent in more productive or enjoyable activities. Well worth the $40 I’d say.

  11. posted by EngineerMom on

    Obviously you were avoiding mentioning the specific task, but I am curious what a “professional” could complete in 5 hours vs. your 12 for only $8/hr.

  12. posted by Amber on

    My posture improved a lot after I started going to Pilates classes. Doesn’t hurt that my teacher lives in the same small town as me so I may see her at any time – every time I think of her I straighten up! Strengthening your core muscles helps prevent back problems and naturally gives you better posture. If you are motivated enough to do it yourself at home, there are tons of DVDs or even YouTube instructions on what to do. I need the committment of paying for class to make me stick with it.

  13. posted by jodi on

    I love how you worded this! I plan on reading it to my husband as confirmation my request to hire someone to do some pre-winter maintenance on the vehicles was a good idea! 🙂

    I would add one other suggestion to your criteria list: If you don’t have enough time to complete the project, it might be worth hiring someone, even if the person is slower than you. We have a number of projects my husband hasn’t had time to do (he works almost 70 hours a week) but is very skilled at.

    For example, our roof leak would only take him a few hours to repair (say 4), but he wont have 4 solid hours to work on it until after winter hits (and it would no longer be safe due to the angle of the roof). His nephew is skilled enough to do the work, but it would probably take nephew twice as long…but at least my roof wont leak when he finishes.

    So for bigger time-consuming projects its possible hiring someone even if it would take the person longer may be worth it as well. We aren’t rich, but we do have more money than time, so I would gladly hire out most of our projects if I could find someone willing and able to be hired!

  14. posted by Maya on

    Good luck improving your posture! I can testify that better posture absolutely improves confidence, self-control, and self-perception. And once you’ve got it, you’ll never want to go back. 🙂

  15. posted by Janet on

    A while back I started having someone come in to do the deep cleaning in our house. It is worth every penny. I started this when I was suffering with a two year bout of severe sciatic leg pain. Now I have her once or twice a month even though, thank God, I have gotten better. It is amazing how much that frees me up because I don’t think about the huge cleaning project I “should” be doing. I use the time to create art.

    Also, it only takes her a few hours at the most to do something it would take me an entire day to do.

    And thank you for talking about that book, “Willpower”. I started it and it is fascinating and I think it will be very helpful for breaking some bad habits I have acquired – I am sitting up straighter as I type!

  16. posted by organizingwithe on

    Where in the world did you find someone to do 5 hours of work for $40?

  17. posted by Erin Doland on

    To those who were wondering about the project, it was craft related. I supplied all materials, dropped off the project and picked it up. This person was probably watching television while doing the work.

  18. posted by Laura, The "Argie" on

    Could be someone sewing or knitting?

  19. posted by Karen on


    You don’t know me, yet you’ve helped me so much in so many ways! I want to offer my tips for improving posture. Having connected with a wonderful yoga teacher, I learned why I could never maintain the customary “military” posture (shoulders back, stomach in, etc.)….It was because it’s so UNCOMFORTABLE! And it can also cause problems. Instead, during one class, my yoga teacher ran her hands over my shoulder blades, saying “Relax your wings,” making me feel just like I am an angel! That moment was the beginning of my relaxing into better, more comfortable posture. Hope this helps!

  20. posted by snosie on

    I have spent much money and time on posture this year too, so much so the physio was BEGGING me to not come back (cause it was improving, the associated pain).

    The biggest helps for me were lumbar rolls (no, don’t rush out and buy anything, a rolled towel will work. IF its too big/confortable, take a layer of the roll off). I have one in the car and at my desk (which is about 9 hours of my day sorted). At first my lower back ached, but now it’s ‘normal’. The pain is radically reduced (with the help of weekly physio massages, chiro didn’t really work). I remember cause the roll feels weird if its not in the right place (or missing). Only drama is on the sofa, or in another car on weekends…

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