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Tips For Tackling Big Projects

May 24, 2011 · 88 comments

in Home & Garden, Misc Tips

Do you have a task that is looming out there, that you just can’t seem to get done?

I do, and it is a big one… I need to get pictures in photo albums before the containers of photo printouts take over my room. (Or the saved photos from my digital camera take over all the memory on my laptop computer.)

I have plans to get these pictures put in albums. Some plans involve working on photo albums an hour each day. Other plans involve scrapbooking marathons. In the end though, I just get overwhelmed because it seems like such an insurmountable task.

My Final Plan To Get Photos In A Photo Album

As you can tell, I have had a variety of schemes to get this task accomplished. So far, nothing has really worked, although I have gotten some albums accomplished here and there. Part of the problem with getting my photo albums done is that it is such a hassle to pull all the scrapbooking materials out and then put them all away again. Therefore, part of my plan needs to include removing the ‘setup’ and ‘put away’ roadblock. This can be accomplished this summer when the kids don’t have school and won’t need to inhabit our home office to do homework. I can then set up and leave out all my scrapbooking tools, and I can just pop in when I have a spare 30 minutes or something. Besides organizing my pictures, I need to dig up a Scan Cafe Coupon and get my old ultrasound pictures scanned. I have been meaning to do this forever, and I hope I am not too late. Ultrasound picture quality may be better now with new technology, but the pictures taken when I was pregnant in the 1990s fade very quickly.

I recognize that I probably cannot get all my pictures organized and in an album by the end of the summer. However, I do plan on committing 10 hours a week to the task, and see how far I can get. I am going to use the following tips as a guideline to create my ‘photo project plan’:

Tips For Accomplishing Big Tasks

  1. Remove obstacles to success. In my case, it is making sure I have a space to do my work that I can leave out for awhile. Just knowing all the setup and cleanup I had to do when working on photo albums was a big deterrent for me. What obstacles are in your way of accomplishing a big task? This may require some thought.
  2. Get the whole family (and/or friends) involved. I play on enlisting my daughter to help with some of the cutting and arranging of the pictures. However, many large tasks can be done with the help of everyone. For example, we need to get our driveway and garage floor replaced. That will require removing everything from our garage. That is a monumental task. However, with 5 people sharing the work, it will be much more manageable. Always think of ways you can use the help of others so a task does not seem as overwhelming.
  3. Get the most difficult or dreaded part of the task done first. If the worst part of a project is accomplished, you may not dread resuming the project again later. Getting something done that has been nagging at your provides such a great sense of accomplishment and can be a huge motivator.
  4. Break the project down into pieces that make the most sense.
  5. Set a schedule to accomplish the project, piece by piece.
  6. Create a reward system that will motivate you to get the job done. Maybe pre-order a Netflix movie that you have been wanting to see, and wait to watch it until a certain goal for the project has been met.
  7. When the project is complete, devise a plan to keep the end result well maintained. That way, another ‘big project’ will not be created all over again in the future.

I will share my detailed plan for organizing and putting my photos into albums once I think it all through.

Do you have any additional tips for tackling big projects? What is the biggest project you have ever successfully completed?

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

First Gen American May 24, 2011 at 6:33 am

Great tips. I often thought it might be fun to do a Christmas card writing party, where everyone writes Xmas cards together..although I doubt much card writing would get done.

I am the world’s worst photo taker and organizer. I think I’ve just given up on the task altogether and am banking on school photos being the main memories of what my children looked like. I do take lots of video though.


Amanda L Grossman May 25, 2011 at 6:16 pm

That is such a cute idea! Plus you could have Christmas music in the background–it would really help to set the Christmas spirit.


Kris May 26, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Every year, I say I am going to start my Christmas cards early, and then I never do. I get so frustrated with myself.

I think we may be tied for worst photo organizer. I do take a ton of pictures though, I don’t know if any exist of myself.


Nicole May 24, 2011 at 7:54 am

I think if I were to want to do a photo album, I would totally give all the materials to DH’s grandma or mom. Then a couple months later: Done! DH’s grandma would grumble to everyone that we’re making her do it, but she does that to show she’s pleased that folks trust her skills and to fish for compliments of the same.

Most of my job work is large undefined tasks with no real deadline but enough have to get done or there’s no tenure.

So I’ve taken to using Robert Boice, or Boicing as we call it in the industry.

1. Start things before you’re ready (and allow your first steps to not really count)
2. Work in regular brief daily sessions
3. Stop before you’re ready
4. Let others do the work for you

If you don’t have a crafty retired grandma, that could mean getting the rest of the family to work with you as a family project. Start now rather than some other time. Do it at the same time each day or each week for 15 – 60 min at a time. Surely 15 min won’t be so bad. 15 min of getting materials ready… etc. Sometimes that 15 will turn into 60. But at that point you should stop so you don’t burn out.

Also think about whether or not this is really what you want to spend your precious time on. There are many competing things and it’s ok if some things don’t get done if there’s other things we have a higher priority for.


Kris May 26, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Great tips Nicole.

I feel like I have no choice but to get it done. I can’t stand the thought of not getting these pictures ‘archived’. I would really like to get a lot done this summer because the kids really do like to look through the albums. Plus, I need to figure out what to put together for my oldest son, who is graduating next year.

Maybe I will make a weekly party involving the kids, and I will work on it daily too.


No Debt MBA May 24, 2011 at 9:54 am

Doing the hardest part first is really the best way I’ve found to get some nagging task done. Scheduling a time to get the project done has also been really useful for me.


Kris May 26, 2011 at 11:21 pm

I agree, I think tackling the hardest part makes a project easier to come back to later. It feels so good to get something difficult done.


Jeff @ Sustainable life blog May 24, 2011 at 11:06 am

Usually my best tips come from breaking the project down into the smallest piece you can chew ,and biting off that.


Kris May 26, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Jeff, breaking it down is a great way to accomplish something. Plus, you end up with a bunch of small victories along the way.


Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter May 24, 2011 at 11:10 am

I am all about lists. I find if I make a list and am later able to tick/cross things off, I always stay on track. It is so motivating to physically remove something from the list.

If you ask my husband though, the list never ends.


Kris May 26, 2011 at 11:19 pm

I do think that lists never end. It seems like something is always looming out there.

I also love crossing something off a list, especially if it is an especially tedious or dreaded task.


krantcents May 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm

My big project is cleaning out the garage. I hate doing it so I put it off. My solution is to do pieces of it each week until I am done. I spend maybe 30 minutes once a week doing some small portion of the garage. It is working so far.


Kris May 26, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Krantcents, that sounds like a great plan. I have a plan for the garage too. I am heading out of town this weekend to watch my youngest son’s soccer tournament. I am hoping my husband and oldest son will work on cleaning out the garage. 🙂


Karen Ho Fatt@best outdoor fire pits May 24, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Ditto to all you said. One year I was listening to a seminar. Essentially she said we can really handle no more than 2 projects at a time. The key to all is focus. With everything else going on around me. the focus is on one task and getting it done – otherwise everything seems to take an eternity.


Kris May 26, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Karen, focus is a very key point. I can multitask, but I don’t think I accomplish as much as I would if I did each task singularly and sequentially. Unless it is something simple like talking on the phone and emptying the dishwasher.


Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager May 24, 2011 at 5:39 pm

I’d have to say graduating from college has been the biggest project I’ve completed to date. Smaller ones like moving have been pretty intense. Now I just need to wrap up some smaller things to get my new place organize.


Kris May 26, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Jenna, sounds like you are off to a great start. Graduating college is a huge accomplishment. It must be very exciting to move and get your own place. I loved that phase of my life. On the other hand, I think I have loved just about every phase of life!


Untemplater May 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm

I hear ya on the scrapbooking – it really does take a long time! I’m definitely guilty of trying to tackle the easy projects first and putting off the bigger, more important, difficult ones. It ends up making more stressed though so I’m trying to get better at attacking the hard stuff first.


Kris May 26, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Untemplater- it is amazing how much better I feel after getting a really dreaded task done. I often wonder why I wait so long to do it, especially when it is something that absolutely must get done. However, I think it is human nature to go after the ‘easy pickings’ first.


Money Reasons May 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm

My favorite step is 6.Create a reward system! I used milestones on my mortgage where we would go out and have a decent dinner after we accomplished each milestone.


Kris May 26, 2011 at 11:11 pm

I like rewards too MR. I should tie some to my mortgage too.


Amanda L Grossman May 25, 2011 at 6:17 pm

I love to Scrapbook…but have not do so in quite awhile! I was actually thinking about getting together several other women who have also fallen behind on scrapbooking and just working together for hours. Could be fun….

The one I want to work on is our wedding/honeymoon/first married year scrapbook. Yay!


Kris May 26, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Amanda, start catching up on those pictures now! Once (and if) the kids start, it will be much harder to find the time. I say, get together with some friends and enjoy some wine and chocolate and scrapbook away!


Little House May 25, 2011 at 9:39 pm

I think steps 2, 5 and 6 will be really helpful. I would think your kids would enjoy helping with the photo album project, especially since I’m guessing many of the photos are of them! I know I like looking through old photos of my childhood. I also think breaking it down to smaller tasks and rewarding yourself will be great motivators! Good luck.


Kris May 26, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Thanks Little House. My daughter loves to help with the photo albums and my youngest son enjoys looking at the finished product. You are right, all the pictures are of them, especially since I take all the pictures!


Jacq May 29, 2011 at 6:18 pm

When I have a huge project to do, I micro-task stuff – basically write down a checklist of everything that needs to be done. I usually do it in 10-30 minute increments – the lower number if it’s something that I’m resisting doing. Sometimes down to 5 minute things.


Kris May 31, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Jacq, it is amazing how much you can actually get done in 15 minutes if you put your mind to it. If only I spent 15 minutes a day on hated tasks, I would run out of hated tasks! 🙂


Jacq June 1, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Kris, the trick is to “eat the frog” first thing. Get it out of the way so that you don’t sit there and dread it all day long.


Kris June 2, 2011 at 9:56 pm

I totally agree Jacq. It is so much more rewarding to get rid of dreaded tasks. Starting is the hardest part for sure.


Prosklitiria Gamou May 31, 2011 at 9:24 am

The most important when i have to handle a big project is to keep always with me a piece of paper with the steps i have to follow in order to accomplish my project. I keep the back side clear and if when i work on the project have an idea or another step to add, then i jot the idea on the back of the paper.
Then i rewrite the list adding the new idea/step.
The habit to rewrite almost daily my project steps is very good and help me much.
Finally the most important is to act on the project, even for a few minutes every day.


Kris May 31, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Great idea to have space for additional ideas, and rewriting. Things always end up in my memory better if I write them down.


Car Negotiation Coach June 5, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Hey Kris,

Scanning old pictures is quite an undertaking. I did it about 5 years ago, but once it was done i haven’t looked back….now I immediately save copies of everything. I heard about a mail a way service that would do this for you too….1 cent per picture or something like that….never looked into myself as I actually had a lot of fun looking at all the old pics as i went through them.



Kris June 6, 2011 at 11:41 pm

I love looking through old pictures. I love it so much that I don’t know why I don’t just get them all organized so I can enjoy them before I lose my eyesight!

Good for you though, I am glad you got it all taken care of!


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