Do you have a big task you’re dreading? Do you want to stop avoiding, start working, and get to the end, but it seems too Overwhelming? Join me as I take on a crazy mess and show you how to tackle big cleaning jobs when you feel overwhelmed.
The key to conquering any big task is to stop looking at the whole picture and break it down into smaller pieces. Henry Ford said, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.” Well, you don’t eat a steak in one bite, so why would the Sanford & Sons monument you’re building in your garage be different?
Speaking of Sanford & Sons, here’s our patio after the garage expelled plastic tubs onto it. There they sat all winter (such as it is in Florida). The curtains shielded us from the ugliness, and it was overwhelming, so we did the logical thing and avoided it.
We are talking full transparency here, so you get the whole picture. We know how to throw down a mess! And one mess begets another as avoiding the tubs meant no weeding.
And the foolishness continues…
But where were we going to start? It looked like it should be Picasso’s patio, surreal with unrelated things scattered randomly out of place.
Take Inventory, Break It Down
I took a walk around listing everything, making categories, so I could focus on one thing at a time to avoid overwhelm and to have measurable progress even while it was still chaos.
- We had plastic tubs that needed cleaned, sorted, and stored in the garage
- Trash needed picked up
- Weeds needed pulling
- Shovels and tools needed put away
- The woodpile needed to go away
- Patio furniture needed grouped
- The patio needed swept and cleaned with the blower
- There were misc things that needed to go away or be put away
- Edging needed to be done
Decide on Time frame
Do you have the whole day or part of a day? Keep expectations reasonable and expect to get less done than you think. Then prioritize the rest of your list in the event you get more done than planned in the allotted time. Looking at this list with 2 people working, we needed the good part of a day and to do the edging another time. It made sense to combine it with other edging around the yard. (I actually started this alone and worked for a few hours before help got home and jumped in. On my own I needed 2 full days.) Gauge your time and energy and break some jobs into multiple days. If you can’t start that day, make preparations and buy anything you need ahead of time.
Set a Firm Start Time & Quitting Time
He (who shall not be named) likes more break time, less manual labor. I get started and will drive us into the ground and work until I drop into bed. I need a quitting time, and he needs a “must work until” time. That’s IF we actually get started.
Get thee off thy buttocks at the appointed time. We start big jobs with break time. Before we work, we get free time. If you get up earlier, you get more free time. Those are our rules, and they work for us. Neither one of us feels like jumping out of bed and heading straight out to the garage or any project, but if that’s your jam – go to it. Just start, and don’t let this job fester any longer.
Take One Task at a Time
Look at your list and decide on order. First we picked up the trash and grouped like items together. (2 tasks done)
Then we used the leaf blower to clean the patio surface so we could start the neverending (tub) story.
Take 15 minute breaks to eat, drink, sit down, recharge. You’ll be fresher and more productive. Don’t turn on Netflix, because that’s the gateway to wasting an afternoon. If you use a computer, turn on a timer that everyone can hear. Take breaks with time limits, not mini-vacations.
Cleaning tubs was such a long, boring task that we broke it up with the remaining tasks. Switching gears helped us stay energetic, or it at least kept us from giving up and quitting. FlyLady says that she can do anything for 15 minutes. You can set a timer and switch tasks every 15 minutes if you feel yourself slowing down. Racing against the clock and switching tasks will keep your pace brisk.
By following these steps, eventually, This…
Which would’ve been so easy to leave until the next day, because we were exhausted, but we proceeded to what may be the hardest step – for us at least.
Wrap It Up
Gifts are always better with some wrapping, and good work is your gift to you. Wrap that puppy up! Don’t leave loose ends if you can help it.
We walked back and forth carting tubs and shoveled the rest of the debris. And at this point we were poised on the brink of a marital moment, because my work-until-it’s-done-and-more-stuff-that-isn’t-on-the-list-is-done was colliding with his I’ve-had-enough-manual-labor-for-2017.
We made it to our goal! And we were so motivated by clearing the patio, that the next day I bought 2 palms to kill, bleach for the door, and Chris assembled our new umbrella.
However …. we’d uncovered Another. Big. Job. Even the blistering Florida sun won’t bleach that concrete. Looking back, there was a missed opportunity involving sidewalk chalk.
Which brings us to the final, but no less important, step –
If you ever want help again, for the love of chocolate, stop working at the point you agreed work would end. Don’t add more details to the list. You are done with this task for the day. You made this contract with yourself, maybe with someone else, so honor it. Just stop.
(This is the first installment of a 3 part patio make-over.)
What big jobs are you avoiding?