5 Easy Steps to Tackling Your Unfinished Projects

Tackling Unfinished ProjectsHow many half-finished projects are hanging around your home, cluttering rooms and taking up valuable storage space? Most people have dozens.

We all have good intentions when we set aside broken jewelry to fix, clothing to mend, or pictures to add to that scrapbook we’re going to finish…someday.

Have you ever gotten fired up and started a project, only to lose steam after the initial excitement wore off? We all have.

But these unfinished projects not only create physical clutter, they cause mental clutter. They add to your long list of things to do, making you feel overwhelmed and defeated. Perhaps they lead to feelings of guilt anytime you see or think of them because defeating thoughts drift into your mind… thoughts like “I shouldn’t have spent all that money” or “I wasted so much time on that”.

By following my proven formula, you’ll enjoy peace of mind and energy from tackling those abandoned projects:

How to Deal With Your Unfinished Projects Now!

  1. Put a limit on it. There’s fantasy (“Someday I’ll find time to work on these”) and there’s reality (“I already have too much to do”). Look at your schedule and determine how much time you can realistically devote to your unfinished projects. Then decide on the maximum number you can take on (perhaps 3-5).
  2. Take a tally. Take an inventory of all your unfinished projects. Walk around the house with a pad of paper. Poke inside long-forgotten corners of closets and backs of dresser drawers. List each and every project you have abandoned.
  3. Gain clarity. With a thick marker, transfer your list of unfinished projects to individual index cards, one project per card. This step helps you get clear on the volume; it’s the difference between writing a cheque vs. physically counting cash.
  4. Narrow it down. Spread out the cards and begin whittling them down to the number you chose in step 1. Once you’ve done that, take a deep breath – and let the rest go. Release all the materials related to those projects by giving them away, recycling them or throwing them out. Feel the guilt (or any other emotion that comes up) and do it anyway. Sometimes we get stuck here because we want to ensure that materials go where they’ll be used and appreciated – but it takes time to find a good home. Give yourself a deadline (a few days to a week) to research; if nothing comes up, take them to your local charity drop-off center and trust that they’ll end up in the right hands. Get them out of your house and out of your life as soon as possible.
  5. Make time. Finally, block time on your calendar to work on undertaking the projects you have left. Commit to finishing these projects before taking on new ones. This will free you to complete the projects and give you time to truly enjoy working on them.

Once you have a plan to complete your inactive projects, you’ll immediately begin to feel lighter. You’ll make steady progress and, once you complete them, you’ll feel free.

Share this:

This post has 3 comments

  • Wendi says:

    Hi Hellen

    Have been steadily and determindly working on mastering the bookwork – I decided that rather than the “dragon slayer” that I was more the “dragon tamer” (abhor violence!) so went with that visual as well as Wendi, the astraunaut, boldly going where others fear!! Anytime I get a little frustrated, I take a deep breath and remind myself that it takes a little longer to tame rather than slay but in the end, it’s a better result!

    Thank you so much!!


  • Diana, freelance health sciences writer says:

    Hi Hellen,
    I used your services many years ago to organize my home office and it was a fabulous experience.
    I get a slew of newsletters, overwheming actually, but reading your suggestions and insights is always worth the time.

    Thanks for all your hard work and exceptional newsletter.

    best always,

  • Mary says:


    God bless you and the wonderful people who open their homes to share their journey with you on Neat.

    I recently discovered Neat on channel 49.3 in the Houston, Texas area. I have purchased your excellent Kindle book from Amazon.com.

    Neat has taught me so much, and helped me with the emotional side of purging. In the past two weeks I have thrown out 15 trash bags. Eight more bags are ready for trash pick up in two days. I will probably have another 20 bags ready in the next few weekends. The relief is tangible already.

    Thank you so much,
    Mary (a visual learner!)