tackling projects {when you have no time}

Let's Fête stair trim painting_2Let’s just come clean here…we all have longer to do lists than we’d like. And it’s increasingly hard to tackle. I realized recently that I tackle projects in a very different way than my husband. Neither way is better (sure, sure) but I got to thinking my approach might actually help some of you too. You see, you and I have a lot in common. We are all busy – with some combo of working, mommying, wifing – so much so that our that project to-do list keeps growing. I mean, we feed our kids and somehow dress them in clean clothes (most of the time), but a lot of the other things get reprioritized.

I realize I drive my husband absolutely crazy with how I approach my to-do list, so you might want to proceed with caution. But to me it’s really the only way to stay sane.

I tackle bits and pieces of projects as I have time. Sounds simple, right?

Let's Fête stair trim painting_2For example, we’ve really needed to paint the trim on our stairs. We’ve spent MONTHS walking up and down those things, staring at the wood stain all over the trim (clearly our floor guys were less than tidy). Every time I went up those stairs I died a little inside. Ok, slightly dramatic.

You know what makes a project like that impossible to tackle? Planning to do it all at once. Having children = never alone. And can you really paint the trim on the stairs with kids around? No. That would be a disaster. In so many ways.

Instead, I have been taking it a couple stairs at a time. During nap times or after bed time. I can spare thirty minutes here and there. I have my paint, brushes tape and rags set in a closet for easy access, it doesn’t take long to pull it together (which would only give me another reason not to tackle it). So here I go, stair by stair. I even still have a few left. Hoping to finish by the end of the weekend though. For me, each time I finish a stair or two, I’ve won. I’m making progress – and it looks GOOD!

My husband asked me the very logical question of why I didn’t just do all of them at once. I get it. I understand that question. But if I waited for the time to do them all at once, it would never happen. And I just can’t accept that. I mean, just look at these stairs. Do you want to accept that?

Let's Fête stair trim painting_2Keys for success with this method:
be prepared. have everything you need before you get started. if time is tight shop for supplies one day, and actually start the project another day. sometimes I have the supplies weeks before I start something. but at least I’m ready for that special moment when I can tackle it.
plan ahead. think about little bits of time you could throw toward the project. if you don’t think about it in advance and commit that time to it, you’ll definitely fill it with something else. if you are a big planner, put it in your calendar!
break up the project. decide what’s going to work best for you. i could have taped off all the stairs during one session, paint one coat on another, etc. I chose to tape off two or three stairs and do all three coats in one session. made me feel the impact of being productive that much more.
give yourself a break. if you start a project and don’t get back to it for a few days. don’t stress. sure it’s annoying to walk by and be reminded that you need to get back to it, but focus on the fact that you actually started it!
finish it. schedule that time in and get it done. nothing feels better than taking something off your list. nothing. (and we all know there are more projects waiting)

I’m not going to say there aren’t flaws in my approach, sure there are. I don’t finish everything quickly, and this bothers my husband to no end. I get really scattered with all the things needing attention – which happens more when you have multiple projects moving at once. Maybe you shouldn’t do that part.

Now go paint those stairs! (or whatever project you’ve got driving you crazy…)


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