Are you feeling buried by your unfinished projects?

unfinished projects

Are you feeling buried by unfinished projects? 3 Solutions for Getting Things Done

unfinished projectsIf you are a creative entrepreneur 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.

Are you also a collector of all that juicy free content available online from coaches and business experts like me trying to entice you onto their mailing list? Shameless self promotion – if you love that kind of stuff, check out my free giveaway on How to Market Your Business in 30 Minutes aย  Day or Less. My download folder is full of some amazing training and tools that I am sure I need and I promise myself I am going to read them or trash them… someday.

This idea is on my mind today because I had two different client meetings today with clients who suffer from what I call “idea-itis” – their minds are full of ideas, visions of what’s possible and dreams of future novels and business success ideas. Trying to reign these creative minds in to focus on just one project at a time is a challenge but a fun one.

I just finished this piece of art today, I was stalled on it. I only needed to color the hummingbird but I wasn’t ecstatic about they way the flowers turned out. I debated taking some gesso and painting the canvas over and beginning again. But it was bugging me, just sitting there beside my work table in my craft room, waiting… so I decided to take my own advice to my clients and finish one project. This was the one I picked.

It took my maybe five minutes to color the hummingbird. And in this moment I released any need for perfection, any fear of judgement from my readers or my friends. I am publicly sharing this Zentangle-inspired art because I completed it. It is no longer an unfinished project!

The problem with unfinished projects is that the take up space in three different ways that can stop us from making real progress!

First, unfinished projects take up physical space.

Just like this canvas, unread books, piles of magazines, receipts and bills waiting to be sorted and filed and laundry waiting to put away (before you wear everything right out of the basket) take up our visual space and create clutter, collect dust and annoy us when we see them because they remind us of our failure to get things done.

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. This mental clutter means we don’t have clean, 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 effect 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.

The truth is that it is natural for creative entrepreneurs to have floods of ideas and piles of possibilities stacked around us in the real and virtual worlds. We might come back to it for inspiration another time, but in the moment we are off chasing the latest spark of inspiration like a magpie chasing shiny objects.

I do believe that we need to finish some of our projects in order to feel a sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction. We also need to finish projects if we want to make money in our business. But I also believe we can do a better job of being okay with letting projects go and not holding onto projects that seem exciting at first but we quickly get bored with.

Here are three solutions to help creative entrepreneurs tackle the unfinished projects:

1. Pick one and finish it, be sure to celebrate and share your success when it’s done, even if you don’t love it!

2. Schedule time once a week to 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 their 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 why. 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 adviser?

If you want to be successful as a creative entrepreneur, you have to learn to do two things: make decisions quickly and finish projects. I know, easier said than done. Take baby steps, like I did with this canvas today. Next project? My visual business plan that I have been putting off because the next part doesn’t feel fun, sigh! I have cleared off my craft table, finished my post and finished my artwork in progress. Time to get to work…

Posted in

26 Comments

  1. Christi Johnson on July 18, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Great article, lady! I thank goodness that I have stopped being a person whose life is full of unfinished projects! Last summer, I was in a marketing group that had a thing called “The Million Dollar Day.” The premise behind it was to get all the clutter out of your life in ONE day in order to make space for the newer, better things that we want.

    I seriously didn’t think it was possible to do such a thing…but I did it! You are 100% right in the fact that, in order to be successful, we have to make decisions quickly, AND we have to finish projects. You’re totally right about that, and I have seen a lot of fruit come as a byproduct of doing just that!

    Again, great article! Thank you!

  2. chris hilbert on July 19, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Minette,

    GREAT articleโ€ฆ.my favorite line: And in this moment I released any need for perfection, any fear of judgement from my readers or my friends. I am publicly sharing this Zentangle-inspired art because I completed it. It is no longer an unfinished project!

    My sister and I both have UFOs (Un Finished Objects)โ€ฆwe have finished the UFOs that were joint projects (crocheted granny-square afghans). Now we are getting together every few months to finish some of our individual projects. It is nice having a sense of completion when a project is done and no longer staring at you making you feel guilty!

    • minette on July 21, 2014 at 6:31 am

      Thank you so much Chris! I love the UFO – great acronym for the weight these projects can create.

  3. Krithika Rangarajan on July 19, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Hey Minette

    Another thought-provoking and informational article! #HUGSSS I ENJOY your breezy writing style.

    As for unfinished projects, I am just going to say: “clutter thy name is Kitty” ๐Ÿ˜› In my case, the ‘clutter’ is caused mostly by unread books and unfolded laundry

    Even our daily tasks could clutter our mental, physical and emotional spaces. I guess that’s why time-management experts suggest PRIORITIZATION as a technique to focus on what’s TRULY important.

    But I am going to take your advice and tackle one project at a time. I hope my efficiency soars as the ‘to do pile’ sinks! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • minette on July 21, 2014 at 6:31 am

      Thanks for the love and maybe let Oreo eat some of those unfinished projects… then you will have an excuse ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Aras Androck on July 20, 2014 at 5:29 am

    Yup. Sometimes all it takes is to end procrastination.

    • minette on July 21, 2014 at 6:30 am

      Love that, Ara, so true!

  5. elly stornebrink on July 20, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    Minette, it’s a bright, colourful piece of art you’ve created. I’m glad you finished it! And thanks for your words of advice I so much need to heed, right after all this bloggin! ๐Ÿ˜‰ <3

    • minette on July 21, 2014 at 6:28 am

      Thanks, Elly! I definitely love working with a bright palette.

  6. Vatsala Shukla on July 29, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Before I write anything else, Minette, congratulations on the lovely hummingbird painting. The procrastination and subsequent determination to complete the artwork has paid off!

    I completed 3 projects between June and earlier this month of which 2 were works-in-progress for some time. I knew I needed to update some of my own knowledge and technological skills to make them work and I also knew I needed help but was unable to find the exact solution. I procrastinated and kept them on the burner while I sorted out other important and immediate projects. I still remember the day I said aloud to myself that I had to do something about this and when I opened my email, there was a message about the exact topic that was holding me back – a perfect fit.

    The rest, as they say, is history and I have actualized what was becoming clutter on my desk by taking action.

    • minette on July 30, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      Thank you for the feedback on my art and for sharing our personal journey. It’s so helpful to hear how others have also shared this path and found a way through the maze of unfinished projects.

  7. Shelley Lundquist ( on July 30, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Hi Minette, great tips here. And you are so right about it all. I used to fall into overwhelm at my to-do list and then spend a lot of wasted time just thinking about it. Now i prioritize and just keep taking steps. I’ve discovered over the last few weeks that i can actually get a lot more done without the worry factor. Things i once thought were overwhelming, have become easy breezy. I’m in the flow and i love it here!

    • minette on July 30, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      It’s amazing how letting go of worry frees us! I love the term easy breezy and being in the flow. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  8. Debra Oakland on July 30, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Minette this is just what I needed to hear today! Thank you…I have so many projects and have felt overwhelm from over-committing. I need breathing room as this one woman show and these are great reminders. Distractions be GONE! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • minette on July 30, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      Debra, I am so glad this resonated with you. It is so hard at times to be a one woman show!

  9. Laurie Seymour on July 30, 2014 at 9:53 am

    This was fun to read! I loved seeing your completed piece–such joy to see your words in beautiful action. I know the feeling so well of multiple shiney entrepreneurial ebooks, courses, etc, taking me off track. Focus and flow work so much better! Oh, and you said to share: I have just completed a new eBook called “7 Awareness-provoking Experiences to Quiet Your Mind, Deepen Your Awareness and Develop Your Inner Connection.โ€ It feels good to share! And to complete something tangible.

    • minette on July 30, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      Laurie, I love that you shared your ebook, wahoo!! Way to go, can’t wait to go check it out.

  10. Mary Robertson on July 30, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Minette you are an amazing artist and a multi-talented woman.
    Now as for the message.. well you have no idea how this resonates with me. I have a beautiful sewing room filled with my life stash of fabric all neatly folded and waiting to be used by my beautiful sewing machine. I have enough beautiful wool yarn to last me for years as well as wood carving tool, jewellery making, mixed media and art supplies etc. Books you say… oh dear, I am a bookaholic and cannot stop searching for just one more to read, although I have so many that I started and have not finished.

    As for the artsy stuff, I have made the painful decision to not even look at it for now as I have trained my focus to concentrate on my writing. I realize that I cannot get ahead unless I do the most important work for now.. it has helped chase away overwhelm. Very interesting article!!!!

    • minette on July 30, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      Mary, I so appreciate your honesty and empathize with your perspective! It is painful to leave behind what we love but the payoff of finishing your book will be so exciting!!

  11. Sheila Kennedy on July 30, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Minette – what a great post! Such great solutions and you really captured the cost of unfinished projects in our lives. By the way – you are a wonderful artist! Thank you for sharing your work! Love it!

    • minette on July 30, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      Thank you Sheila, it always feels like a stretch for me to share my art so I am extra appreciative of the positive feedback.

  12. Andrea on July 30, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Last fall, my husband and I completed a 1,000+ mile move. There was so MUCH to do… I got to see (again) that when I get enthusiastic about an idea or a project it is hard for me to wait. I start — whether the timing is good or not.

    What you describe here works well for me. When I can just take a deep breath, let of of the need to do something perfectly and discipline myself to take the next step, I finish things… which creates more energy and momentum to finish more things….

    Thanks for a thoughtful and timely post.

    • minette on July 30, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      Andrea, I can so empathize, we moved from Texas to California two years ago and yes, it was so many details. I too tend to leap without looking but in this case, we did plan and take our time and it all paid off. It was a good lesson for me!

  13. Sue Kearney ( on July 30, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Aargh, your blog ate my comment! Sigh. I’ll try again.

    Hey Minette, thanks for this. I loved the part about how things unfinished take up physical, mental and emotional space.

    All my work came to a screeching halt when I got critically ill in May, and now in my healing I’ve reevaluated projects dreamed of and unfinished, and whittled the list down to what’s really calling me in this now moment.

    You’ve heard of slow food? I’m doing slow business, with love, care, but not with worry.

    Blessed be,
    Sue

    • minette on July 30, 2014 at 6:12 pm

      Sue, I am so glad you are feeling better and I love the idea of slow business, beautiful model. It will probably be all the more successful because of that!

  14. Peggy on July 31, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Hi Minette,

    I used to be that person who would take on too many projects and then feel completely overwhelmed because I said Yes to too many things.

    Not anymore.

    I LOVE your painting…it’s GORGEOUS!

    xo
    Peggy

Leave a Comment