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5 tips for getting that to-do list DONE!

by respaced on August 4, 2009

Do you have a list of projects that you need to get done? Is this list long and old, consisting mostly of household projects you put off year after year? I think we all have a list like that, and I often run across “evidence” of the projects on the to-do-list at my clients’ homes.

This week, I discovered that knowing you have house guests coming to visit can be a great motivator to get some of those projects done. Thus far, I have finally sewed curtains for the guest room, removed the smelly carpet from the guest room, cleaned off the outdoor bench so Chad can seal it, and hosed off the garage wall under the patio.

What are some other ways to get that to-do list done?

1. Write down all your to-do projects. Notice which projects are little ones that can be done quickly, and which ones are big projects that require a plan, money and/or a big chunk time.

2. Try writing down some of the little, easy projects on your calendar or adding them to your schedule, just like you would an appointment. And like an appointment, make sure you have nothing else planned that will conflict with that time, and that you have allowed enough time to finish the project.

3. Try rewarding yourself after completing the project. Promise yourself a yummy treat, fun outing or something indulgent, so you have something to look forward to. Sometimes, I will make a pan of my favorite brownies before my project, and then let the pan sit out all day so the intoxicating smell motivates me to hurry up and finish my project so I can dig in! Admittedly, not a good tip for those on a diet …

4. If rewards don’t work, try negative consequences. My favorite idea is a spin-off from one popularized by radio talk show host Dr. Joy Browne (I promise you, she’s no Dr. Laura …) Tell a friend you have this project you need to get done and have him or her fine you, say $5, everyday past your scheduled “project day” that you don’t complete it. Make sure your friend is someone who will hold you to it and will not take an IOU! Nothing motivates as fast as the loss of your hard-earned cash.

5. Seriously consider hiring someone to do the big, involved household projects. We have been putting off washing the siding on our house for years. We’ve promised ourselves that if we haven’t washed the siding by the end of the summer, we’re going to hire someone else to do it. This is because we obviously can’t seem to get it done ourselves after five years, whereas a handy person could get it done in one afternoon.

I’m feeling inspired already! Time to go bake a pan of brownies and lay bark chips under all the plants!

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