Editing Life: Projects

Editing Life: Projects

When I was young, I believed I could do everything. People told me I could do “anything” and I assumed that meant “everything”. Unfortunately, this has given me a “put more on my plate than I can eat” with respect to the things I want to do.
The truth is, I am not Wonder Woman. I am human. I have limited time and energy. And deciding to do everything right now takes a lot of energy and accomplishes little.

Now that I am reconsidering what I want my life will look like after COVID, I am looking at editing my projects.

Projects Beyond Hobbies

You could argue that all of my unfinished and/or unstarted stuff for my hobbies are projects. I won’t disagree with you. But there are a lot of projects I have beyond my hobbies that need to be looked at. That’s where this article comes in, looking at all the non-hobby related stuff that has piled up.

Editing Projects

I followed David Allen’s advice and started a Someday/Maybe list years ago. This is where most of my projects reside. But there are also the ongoing ones that are not necessarily in that list because they are (supposedly) being actively worked. I try to make sure everything I am working on has a place on the list when I go through it every quarter.

To start editing the projects, you need to have a list to work from. If you don’t already have a list of active projects and a someday/maybe list, you can start one. A good place to start is with Kathy Paauw’s RAM Dump. This will generate a list of projects very quickly, and it’s in-depth as well.

Editing the List

Once you have the list, you have to weed through it. There are five categories into which each project will go. I like an airport parking analogy to help classify them.

  1. Curbside parking. Things you need to work on right now. This will include high return-on-investment projects, as well as urgent ones.
  2. Short term parking. Things that you will work on in 3-6 months. Things that are not necessarily urgent, but are important and have a good ROI.
  3. Long term parking. Things you will work on in 7-24 months. Things that can be put off but still have a reasonable ROI.
  4. Employee parking. Things you are pretty sure you will work on at some point because they are somewhat valuable.
  5. Trash. Things that have a poor ROI or are not important.

An Example

When I went through Evernote a few months ago (see Evernote Maintenance) I had over 250 items in that parking structure. Just a little under half went away. Today I have 127 items on my someday list, in the top 3 parking tiers. I don’t store things in the employee parking with a specific category – I’ve kept the information (mostly patterns) and if I get the urge later, I can dig it out.

So, let’s take a look at the stuff in my list.

  • Build a bee garden. I have seen so many of the pollinators around my in-place landscaping, I no longer see this as a good ROI. Trash.
  • Adsense restructure. I need to revisit my ads on the blog, as well as other passive income streams. This is a short term parking thing.
  • 10 minute Santa ornament. It’s July. ‘Nuff said. 3-6 months.
  • WordPress plugin overhaul. This needs to be looked at as part of my yearly planning, which will occur later this month. Short term.
  • Clean music library and rip CDs I actually listen mostly to Google Play and Pandora at this point. Long-term parking.
  • DIY Felt Gnome witches. Again, it’s not October, it’s July. 3-6 months.
  • Set up summer clothing pod for work. It’s July, and there is no sign I will be working from the office any time soon. Long term parking.
  • Replace sheers in dining room. Two cats, one set of sheer curtains. Add the dog, who likes to put his paws on the window. Result: sheers with holes and snags. I want to replace these, not sure on the ROI. Long term parking.
  • Transfer VRS money to Fidelity. I have money in the Virginia Retirement System from my year as a teacher. I would like to transfer it to my other retirement account, but now is not the time to cash out. Moved from short term to long term.
  • Update quartet music inventory. We won’t be singing together any time soon, so this is moved from curbside to short term.

The Results

After going through all of my projects, I went from 127 down to 98, and moved many of the things that were “urgent” three months ago to the appropriate parking. My active project list only has 3 items on it that are not hobby-related.

Over To You

What projects do you want to work on going forward? Cull your list and see what is left.