My project plan was complete including a scaled drawing. We took advantage of a great Memorial Day sale and bought thirty-two landscape timbers at half price.
Last summer, I cringed every time I pulled into my driveway. My failure to complete the project had me feeling frustrated.
My view when I pulled into the driveway was disheartening. I could see the black landscape fabric spread over the area to the right of my front porch. Twenty or so large creek stones scattered about were holding the material in place. I put the fabric there to keep the weeds from taking over the bare soil while I worked on the area to the left of the porch.
When you don’t know what to do next, you get overwhelmed.
The left side had stalled.
We had cut down a forty-year-old American Holly tree and we had the stump ground out. That was part of the plan.
I didn’t realize the invasiveness of the holly tree’s root system. That root was a beast.
There was a pipe hanging over the area where I planned to install terraced retaining walls. The pipe was part of an existing sprinkler system.
The project had dragged on way too long. I was frustrated because I had no idea how to get that root out of there, and the pipe concerned me.
I am a follower of David Allen and his Getting Things Done methodology. His philosophy for moving any project forward is to determine the next action.
I was convinced that the next step for the landscaping project was to hire someone to remove the holly root. I called several tree professionals leaving detailed messages. No one returned my call, so meanwhile, I continued digging around the roots. Why? Because those roots were in my way!
When you know your next action you can move forward
As it turned out, digging was exactly what I needed to do. I dug and dug and dug.
By late fall I had exposed a massive root system. I could see the next two actions. My husband, John agreed to use a power saw to cut away the roots, and he assured me that shortening the irrigation pipe would be easy.
I was finally feeling hopeful!
My goal was to complete the front landscaping project by July. I scheduled time on my calendar to work on the project.
We installed the plants and spread the mulch the weekend of the fourth of July.
Do you have a project that has stalled because you are not sure of your next action?
Asking yourself these questions will help you figure out what to do next.
- What does finished look like?
- Is something in your way?
- Do you need to ask for help?
Fear of the unknown can prevent a project from starting
Our bi-level home was built in 1976. We bought it in 2001. The tiny master bath had a harvest gold tub, sink, and toilet. In May we hired a contractor to bring the bathroom into the twenty-first century.
Why did we live with an outdated bathroom for so long? In the beginning, we were working to update other areas of the house, so it wasn’t a priority.
Fear of the unknown and fear of inconvenience delayed the project for the past few years. We didn’t know how much a remodel would cost and we didn’t know how long the project would take. We had no desire to do the hands-on work for this project.
Calling contractors to give us estimates was the keystone action.
Moving this project forward was a matter of deciding on the look for the bathroom and getting estimates. We secured the funds, chose a contractor and selected the products.
The project planning and receiving the products took a few weeks. The actual demolition and installation took three days.
Do you have some projects that you want to do, but fear of the price tag is holding you back? Getting an estimate will give you the information you need to make an informed decision.
My last project for this year was long-stalled, yet quick to execute.
In 2009, we walled off a section of our basement to create a bedroom. I had the contractor put a large reach-in closet in the room. I told him to leave it empty; no shelf, no rod just an empty space. I’m a trained closet designer. I intended to install a closet system later. Ha! Later! I have never seen the day “Later” on any calendar, have you?
I measured the closet and drew out a plan. I tucked it away in my filing cabinet and didn’t look at it again until this year. A project that is never looked at or thought about is a stalled project; or is it?
I had unknowingly practiced a technique called intentional procrastination. That is where you purposely put something on the back-burner because it isn’t a priority.
We rolled a portable hanging rack into the closet as a temporary solution. The room was a bedroom for a short time. Later we converted it to John’s music room. He used the closet to store some of his music items.
I used the closet to store my winter boots and as a hiding place for gifts for my granddaughter. Each time I opened the door, a little voice in my head reminded me, “Someday you should put a closet system in here.”
In November we needed the room to be a bedroom again. It was time to deal with the closet. I pulled out the drawing with the measurements and the plan.
I decided to use the Rubbermaid Homefree closet system. I went to Lowes, bought the kit and was back home in an hour. The next day, my son and I installed the closet. It took about three hours.
Do you have some projects that would be nice to do, but are not a priority? Consider starting a backburner list. Give yourself permission to practice intentional procrastination.
Successful projects begin with a mental picture and a written plan
All these projects began with a mental picture of a finished project and included a written plan. There is magic in writing out your plan, identifying your next actions and reviewing the plan.
Sometimes you only know the first few actions. Keep your vision in your mind as you complete each action item on your plan. You may encounter obstacles that make it look like you won’t be able to complete your project. It’s important to drill down to understand what to do next.
What project will you move forward this year? Tell me about it in the comments.