If you are a creative business owner and chaser of bright, shiny ideas like I am, you might have lots of unfinished projects around your home and in your business. You probably have stacks of books you say you are going to read and boxes of art supplies, craft kits and folders full of diy ideas for projects around the house.
As we near the end of the year, you may be feeling even more push to get things done which adds to your stress and overwhelm.
The problem with unfinished projects is that they take up space in three different ways that can stop us from making real progress!
First, unfinished projects take up physical space.
Unread books, piles of magazines, papers waiting to be sorted and filed, half-finished art projects and even baskets of unfolded laundry take up physical space and create visual clutter. They collect dust and annoy us when we see them because they remind us of our failure to get things done. Visual clutter can kill creativity and focus.
Second, unfinished projects take up mental space.
Our mind becomes just as cluttered as our office or living room with piles of unfinished projects dangling behind our eyes. Digital downloads and courses never completed, projects begun but never finished for your business, that long to-do list or email inbox with thousands of unread messages… this mental clutter means we don’t have wide open space for more creative thoughts to come in! Soon we feel completely stuck, overwhelmed and confused about what to do next.
Third, unfinished projects take up emotional space.
When we have piles of unfinished projects taking up our mental and physical space, they begin to adversely affect our emotional well-being. We begin to criticize ourselves, judging ourselves too harshly and seeing ourselves as failures because we can’t seem to finish anything! Then we lose sight of our own creativity and genius and lose faith in ourselves.
You need to finish some of your projects in order to feel a sense of accomplishment and boost your confidence. You also need to finish projects if you want to make money in your business. The key is not working harder or doing more, itâ€™s doing a better job of being okay with letting projects go, especially projects that seem exciting at first but we quickly get bored with.
Creatives get too attached to their ideas and are afraid to let them go. Trust me, if the idea matters to you, you will finish it!
Three solutions to completing the unfinished projects that matter:
1. Pick one and finish it, schedule time in your calendar to work on it. Be sure to celebrate and share your success when it’s done, even if you don’t love it! Finish it and let it go!
2. Schedule time once a week to look at one or two of your projects and make a decision – will I ever read this or finish this? If the answer is a resounding no, donate it or trash it. If the answer is a maybe, ask again next week.
Clutter can really overwhelm us – the mental and the physical kind. Take it slow and be patient with yourself. When you find it hard to let go, ask yourself why? Is there an emotional attachment to the project? Is it your million dollar idea? Do you feel guilty because you spent money on it and now you are throwing it out? These are difficult questions but important ones.
3. Finally, stop making excuses. If procrastination is causing you pain, try to get to the root of whatâ€™s stopping you. Unfinished projects could simply be part of your nature of moving quickly from idea to idea or they could be a symptom of some underlying fear. Ask yourself: what will happen if I do finish this project? If fear is the problem, is this something you can safely and comfortably work through on your own or is it better to call a trusted friend or mentor?
No one but you can decide what projects matter. There is more going on here than meets the eye. Unfinished projects, procrastination, failure to launch that new idea all have underlying stories you are telling yourself. Are you willing to look deeper?
If you want to be successful as a creative business owner, you have to learn to do three things: ask better questions, make decisions quickly and finish projects.
I know, easier said than done. Take baby steps. What is the most important project you could complete before the year is over?