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  • Writer's pictureJonda Beattie

From Start to Done

I have a client who last week lamented to me, “I never reach done!” I heard what she was saying. She usually has multiple projects going – some of them ongoing – and she really hasn’t benchmarked a place where she can say, “done!”

I show up at her home and we talk about what she wants to accomplish on that session. I get a grocery list of maybe 6 – 8 items (and often items are added as we go). Some items are small and can be knocked out easily. Some items are very important like bill paying. Some items are time sensitive like a new roomer coming in that night. I often feel like we are doing triage. As I left last time, she said, “Make a note that the next time we work on updating my Christmas mailing list.”

“But, Suzanne, it’s only August.”

“Yes, but I plan on getting married soon and this will be the list I use for the invitations.”

Ever since that last session, I have been thinking about ways that Suzanne can reach “done.”

Let’s take this Christmas mailing list as an example.

She has defined the project and we certainly know the motivation. I have helped her once before try to update this list so I know it is not a simple task. She has this list divided into categories – clients, friends, family, old school friends, etc. She has bits and pieces of paper that show changes in addresses, phone numbers, and even changes in names.

I would like her to develop her vision of what the completed project would look like. If this list is going to be updated mainly at this time for the purpose of wedding invites, could there be some sections that could be skipped at this point in time? Only she can answer that.

Then we’ll come up with a brainstorming list of what has to happen to reach that vision. Some items could be:

  1. Pull the list off the computer and onto a thumb drive or a folder in dropbox so that she can work anywhere

  2. Round up all scraps of paper and put them into one container – she might just start with the ones that are easy to find and add others as she comes across them

  3. Break the list down into manageable bites

  4. Set aside scheduled times to work on this project and nothing else

  5. Color code the names of people she might want to have on her invite list

I’m sure she will come up with other items for her list and maybe delete the ones I have listed. This will be her brainstorming list.

Next determine a time that she really wants this finished – i.e. when the invites must be addressed. Then get the calendar out and clearly schedule each benchmark – i.e. update all family members.

At the end of each session she should reward herself and consider this part “done.” As part of “done” she puts everything away and clears her space until she has her next scheduled session.

When she has her list the way she wants it, she should set up a maintenance plan. Perhaps each time she gets a change in her list, she puts this change in one container. Then once a year she goes into her list and makes all of those changes.

Now the project is truly done and has a maintenance plan as well.

Jonda S. Beattie Professional Organizer

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