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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Finish the Projects That Have Been on Your Plate for Ages

I'm thirty-two years old. My grandmother gave my mother a beautiful jumbo rocking chair not very long before I was born. For years, despite the fact that my mother & I discussed wanting to get a rocking chair cushion set it, we never got around to it. It wasn't an issue of money- we both worked & could afford to buy a set. But for whatever reason, we just kept putting it off. Well, finally this past year I decided that I want to get seriously organized, and finish those nagging projects that whispered in my ear so often. So nearly thirty-two years after this baby was born, I finally bought the darn rocking chair cushion set. It made the chair so much more comfortable, attractive & finished-looking. Why, why, why did we wait? This could have been additional seating all these years, instead of being the chair ignored for three decades because it wasn't all that comfy. For less than sixty dollars, I got a project finished that hung over me for years. Wow, do I feel like an idiot! If you're curious, here's the set that I got:

http://www.amazon.com/Greendale-Home-Fashions-Rocking-Cushion/dp/B004N3C4ZE/ref=cm_cr-mr-title

These projects either need to be conquered (if you have all the time, tools, money, resources, etc., available to finish them); dropped from your life (if you don't have one or more of those attributes); or they need to be modified. I took on the project of taking all of my mother's loose-leaf recipes, typing them up, three-hole-punching them & putting them in their own binder. I did complete several recipes this way, but I realized what was really needed was a decluttering of these recipes first. I had over a hundred recipes, many of which were never even used, sitting in the file folder waiting to be typed. It was such a boring project & so time-consuming that I ended up dropping it. The recipes I knew that we needed (since I'm the cook of the house), I either did re-type (if the loose-leaf paper was really old) or just three-hole-punched the original & put it in the binder. The rest of the recipes, the ones my mother has been collecting since 1971 & hasn't made since 1978, mostly went in the trash. There were a few that she stubbornly hung on to, but I wrestled most of the unused ones into the trashcan. Does my cookbook binder look perfect? Nope. Does it look good, though? Yes, it does. It's a zip-around folio-binder that folds flat, perfect as a cookbook. I own a three-hole-punch that I bought on www.amazon.com, and I adore it. I have an all-in-one printer, copier, fax & scanner, so recipes are really easy for me to print off. I bought a set of eight & a set of five plastic dividers with tabs to separate my recipes by category. Whenever I find a good recipe online, I simply print it out & add it the book. If it turns out to be a dud, I throw the recipe out. Easy. Just for information's sake, by the way, here are my personal cookbook categories:

Appetizers
Beef
Breakfast
Chicken
Desserts
Drinks (mostly alcoholic ones, but there's also some for hot cocoa variations & coffee drinks)
Fin Fish
Pasta
Pork
Salads
Shellfish
Turkey
Vegetables

Whatever projects are hanging over your head, write every single one of them down or type them out. List every single step needed that you know of to finish it. Estimate the time it will take to do each step. List the cost of taking each step, or find out what the exact cost is if you need to check on that. Should you need to join an organization, ascertain what information you'll be expected to give, how much the annual dues are (also referred to as a membership fee), how often the organization meets together, and where the group meets. Do they rotate from one person's home to another (this is common in smaller organizations)? Would you be expected from time to time to bring more than just yourself, such as contributing to a potluck or group dinner? What would be the benefits & the drawbacks of this undertaking? Are the drawbacks so huge that it makes the undertaking impossible or too much of a stretch at this point in your life? For every new project you take on, time will be needed for it, and you need to think about where that extra time will come from. Will something else that you do regularly need to be cut back on or cut out entirely to do this project, at least temporarily? If you need help from a particular person, organization or staff to finish your project, list their name(s) & contact info now. If payment to another entity will be required, how & when will you be expected to pay them? Where will the money be coming from? (A loan on your 401k, credit cards, money from a family member, an inheritance, your savings account, etc.) List how much time you will spend on the project personally, when you'll spend the time on it, and mark it in your calendar- if you use both a paper calendar & an electronic one, list the times on both. If another person or group of people have to do the project, what is the timeframe that they'll need (and it's better for them to overestimate than underestimate)? Set clear deadlines with this entity, though, and make sure that both parties are extremely clear on that expectation. Depending upon the extent of this project, a written contract may be needed. If this project will be forcing you to close off a part of your home or you have to leave entirely (such as during a major renovation), can you afford to do this & where will you go? Have email reminders sent to yourself, if possible, to help you remember each step that you need to do along the way, if you go ahead with the goal. Envision yourself & the finished project in a positive light, with the project being finished by your deadline, as well.

Here's to being an organized minimalist,

Liz

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