We are now well into the swing of summer, halfway through 2020, and I can’t remember how many months into COVID-19 disruptions. If you are one of the lucky ones, you are hopefully feeling some relief from your home bound existence, and starting to dip your toe into the ocean of society again. Many of us have spent these countless months binge watching Netflix (I think I have watched enough to be a paid critic), ordering groceries from Amazon, and attempting home projects with nothing but the ½ can of paint from last year’s bathroom renovation. As we begin to crawl back to “normal” life things are speeding up quickly. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my life went from pining away the time with do-it-yourself pedicures with my daughters to barely breathing again as I conduct business at the speed of light. At this point, I don’t even remember the last time I cooked every meal of the day, and have had to abandon my list of home project “to-do’s” until the next (God I hope not) pandemic strikes.
If you are like my family, we got a lot done during these last few months but have a laundry list of yet-to-be-started and unfinished projects on the home front. Now more than ever, it is important to make the best use of whatever time we have available to get them done. As I was revisiting such a project over the weekend it reminded me to return to basics and focus on the aspects that make any project a good and successful one. Here’s what I came up with:
Okay, we have a great plan, now what? For a more complex or time sensitive project, I would have added resources to the list of things to plan for. For most smaller home organizing projects, family members can usually be recruited after you have figured out the high-level details. This is the time to delegate and recruit your husband, kids, roommate, or anyone else who might be able to pitch in. Get the kids to grab and put away their own shoes. Have the husband or wife pick up those bins on his or her way home from work. I know the adage about doing things yourself if you want them to be perfect, but in our age of busyness and multi hat wearing, it’s time to leave that whole “perfect” thing by the side of the road. Being effective at managing and using our time so that our goals for that time are completed often requires that we delegate and share responsibility for the results. We simply can’t do it all by ourselves.
“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” - Winston S. Churchill. Let this one sink in for a while. How often do we set out to do something, anything, in our homes and get distracted so many times along the way that we find ourselves in a different part of the house, forgetting completely what it was that we set out to do? You’ve spent the time to plan for your project and maybe recruit some help. You pondered over tasks, supplies have been purchased, and the 15-minute reminder just popped up on your calendar to start working on your plan. Don’t end up lost and confused in your own home. Shut off the phone and computer. Let the dog out ahead of time. If needed, you can even put a note on the front door to alert neighbors that you are in a working session and won’t be answering. Avoid the intense urge to see what John Doe is posting on Facebook, and focus, focus, focus. One thing that I find helps with distractions is to keep a pen and notebook close by to document random thoughts, reminders and things to address later so I can get them out of my head and onto a safe platform to retrieve later once my project is complete.
Lastly, no home project would be complete without a good dose of humor. Regardless of planning, sometimes things will run amuck. Distractions might happen anyway. The kids might bail on their tasks 5 minutes into them. The husband/wife might have brought home the wrong bins. Shit happens! There, I said it. Especially on the home front, things are not always going to go as planned. Remember that plan? While you are exercising your good sense of humor, now is the time to dust it off, revisit tasks, remember where you left off, and make changes, as needed, to recover and keep moving forward. The sky will not fall, and the earth will not stop spinning if something goes awry and you must reschedule or add more time. Just remember to stick to the plan, reengage those resources (unless you are now completely fed up with them), take a break to laugh and collect your thoughts, and continue forward.