by Susan McCarthy
I talk a lot about making change in small ways – instead of waiting for a “free” weekend that you can devote to decluttering, consider the benefits of working through the clutter 15-minutes a day. And almost any big, multi-step project (personal or for work) can be broken down into small action steps. But is this the best way to approach all projects? And how do you know what’s going to work for you?
A few months back, I took on the role of editor of my town’s Garden Club. When I met with the previous editor, she handed me a box of three binders with the past 25 years of issues. One of my first thoughts was, “these are the only copies of the earlier issues!” (Okay, my first thought was, “Ack! Someone else’s stuff to find space for.” Really, it’s one small box, the size that would hold a dozen bottles of wine.)
My professional organizer-Spidey senses kicked in now that I was now responsible for this record of the earlier years of the club. While I spent a few months getting used to producing the new issues, I knew there was something else I wanted to do. Scan and assemble digital copies of the pre-digital newsletters.
I’d still hold onto the originals, but I wanted there to be backup copies of the Garden Club’s history. So, I emailed the co-presidents and offered to digitize the newsletters.
My original thought was that I would spend a half hour each evening scanning and assembling … I wasn’t certain how many pages I could get done this time, but it seemed like a way to make progress without getting caught up in this bit of volunteerism and having it take over a day (or numerous days).
But this wasn’t really the way I wanted to spend my evenings. If I wasn’t teaching or participating in a class or meeting, I liked to crochet. I wanted to do the newsletter project, and it wouldn’t require that much effort. However, it seemed as if I’d just get into the flow of scanning and assembling the pages into individual documents and the half hour would be up.
I considered working for an hour instead of thirty minutes, but by the end of the day, I was tired (most of what I do is write – emails, articles, PowerPoint slide shows for presentations, which for me requires a mental break or I get cranky.)
While it made sense to work in short segments, it wasn’t appealing, and I wasn’t putting in the daily effort. So, I switched to three- or four-hour blocks on Saturdays. If I worked thirty minutes six days a week, I’d do three hours, so I wasn’t working more or less time, just in leaps.
So, how to plan out one’s projects, whether it’s decluttering, organizing digital files, or revamping your LinkedIn profile to include information about your budding tutoring business? This isn’t about setting a goal so much as figuring out the best way to do the work that will help you accomplish your goal.
Hi, I'm Susan.
And I’m here to help you clear the things cluttering your life so you can do and have more of what’s important to you.