Because it’s Rarely the “Right Time” to Get Started

posted by Andrea | 10/21/2016
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Due to the nature of my blog, I’ve heard my fair share of “excuses” as to why someone’s house is disorganized, why they can’t save more money or cut back on their expenses, why they don’t have enough time to do everything on their list, etc, etc.

Do any of these statements sound familiar to you? 

  • I’ll  organize the junk room once I have a long weekend to work on it
  • I’ll clean out the garage once my spouse is ready to help
  • I’ll go through that pile of papers once I buy the appropriate file folders
  • I’ll start making sleep a priority once I get ahead on my to-dos
  • I’ll start writing my to-do’s down once I find the perfect planner
  • I’ll start looking for the perfect planner after the holidays
  • I’ll start investing once I build up my savings account
  • I’ll start saving once my debt is paid off
  • I’ll pay off my debt once my income goes up a bit
  • I’ll start an emergency (or retirement) fund once we pay off the rest of our bills
  • I’ll start eating healthier after my upcoming vacation
  • I’ll start exercising once the weather gets cooler this fall (or warmer in the spring)
  • I’ll start meal planning next week… as this week is too busy
  • I’ll get my pictures organized once my kids are a little older
  • I’ll put effort into starting my business once the kids have moved out.

I think you get the idea!

I can completely relate to this thought process (and I know I’ve said some of these excuses myself). After all, it IS more efficient to tackle a big project all at one time, it’s more rewarding to pay down debt or build your investments once you have more disposable income to put towards it, and everything is easier once the kids are older!

HOWEVER, what if you never have a big enough chunk of time or large enough chunk of extra cash to get started? And what if your kids never move out? 🙂

The truth is, there often isn’t a “right time” or a “perfect time” to do so many things… and by waiting for that right time, you are essentially procrastinating indefinitely.

Our lives are all full of wonderful (and some not-so-wonderful) to-dos. Whether it’s caring for our families, running errands, working, volunteering, exploring new hobbies, spending time with friends, etc. there is ALWAYS something else we could do, should do, or want to do.

If we constantly put off those tasks I listed above because we’re “too busy” or we “don’t have enough money” or “it’s not the right time”, we will most likely continue putting them off and putting them off until they eventually all catch up with us in the form of more debt, weight gain, a messy and disorganized home, too little sleep, and added stress.

My overly-simple solution = Start Small Right Now!

It might not be the best timing ever. It might not be the most convenient phase of your life. But if you don’t do it now, you might never get started.

Incorporate one or two small healthy habits into your routine (like I did this year).

Start an emergency fund with $10 — and then set up an automatic withdraw to add $5 or $10 a month.

Set your timer for 15 minutes and fold laundry, file papers, or clean off a section of your kitchen counters.

Make a goal to get to bed 15 minutes earlier, even if you still have stuff to do.

Make a meal plan for next week… right now! (Here are a few ideas to help you get started)

Put an extra $10 towards a debt you need to pay off.

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By getting started right now (even if it’s a super small start) you are taking action, building momentum, and getting the ball rolling in the right direction.

You most likely won’t see massive changes over night (or even in the first week or month) but if you keep plugging away, you WILL see the changes eventually! Plus, you’ll be developing a really great habit!

And please don’t feel like you must start at the beginning.

So often, I hear statements like:

  • But it would be so much work to go all the way back to when my kids were babies in order to digitize all their photos
  • But I’m already in my 40’s (or 50’s) — I don’t think it would pay to start a retirement account now
  • But my house is so disorganized — I just want to move and start over because I don’t even know where to begin in this house
  • But my schedule is so crazy — I just don’t know how I could make any extra time to __________

My response to these types of statements is “just get started!” (in a nice, sensitive tone!)

You don’t need to digitize every one of your children’s pictures. Just start NOW and move forward with all future pictures

You don’t need to be in your 20’s or 30’s to start a retirement account. Just start one NOW… it will still be better than nothing.

You don’t need to organize your entire house in one week. Just start NOW and do one small area. Then do another area tomorrow.

You don’t need to have hours of extra time. Just start NOW with 5, 10, or 15 minutes of more exercise, sleep, or whatever you want to make more time for.

The point of getting started is not to “do it perfectly” but rather just to “do something”.

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By doing something, you will start to change your behavior, your way of thinking, your routine, your mentality, etc. And after enough days of “doing something” there’s a really good chance you will develop a new habit.

You will automatically pick up after yourself, file your papers, and purge your closet when it’s getting too full.

You will automatically think about saving and investing each month and be excited to put more money away for later.

You will automatically start to reach for healthier foods and your taste buds might even start to crave those healthier options.

You will automatically start to be more efficient with your time and make time in your schedule for those activities that are most important to you.

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I realize this type of information is extremely easy to read and say, “yes, I should do that!” It’s exciting to think about making positive changes in our lives — but not as exciting to actually make the changes.

It will not necessarily be easy or fun or enjoyable (especially not in the beginning). But it WILL be worth it once you start to see the results. 

What would you like to “start right now”?

photo source 1, 2, 3

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15 comments

  1. Heather Ratliff

    10/21/2016

    Since we moved into our house almost two years ago, I’ve been trying to finish painting the trim (and finishing painting one room!). Not that I’ve been putting it off on purpose, but I have finally started working on it again. I get frustrated when I have to stop to work on another project, but I just keep re-starting. It will eventually get done and I will be so glad that I kept at it!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know — I hate stopping in the middle of a project… but I have learned that if I just work on it a little every day (week, month, etc.) I will finish eventually! Happy Painting 🙂

    [Reply]

  2. Christine from The (mostly) Simple Life

    10/21/2016

    I 100% agree! I read something years ago that said something like “if you wait for the perfect moment and the perfect circumstances, you will never do anything.” I used to think I’ll start exercising regularly when I have more time, but it would never happen. Now I make time and do the best I can.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yup, exactly! I know Dave and I even felt like this when we were wondering when we should start having kids… there was never ‘right time’ or a ‘perfect time’
    Good for you with the exercising too!

    [Reply]

  3. francie

    10/21/2016

    I suffer from procrastination!lol! This article is just what I needed.

    [Reply]

  4. Ania

    12/31/2015

    Dear Andrea, you have no idea how happy I am for finding your blog ! I decided to at least try to change a couple of things in my own / family life and your adiveices on how to organize yourself / stuff around the house are amazing. I’m inspired to enter the 2016 with new power to clean up the mess 🙂 greets from Amsterdam !

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Ania!!!

    [Reply]

  5. Terri

    11/25/2015

    I read this yesterday and have already organized all of my folded clothes plus my linen closet! I was “waiting for things not to be so crazy” in my life so I could get organized. This advice was my “wake up call” to do …SOMETHING…NOW.
    Love your blog and thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah!! I’m sure it feels great to have a few things crossed off your list! way to go — baby steps!

    [Reply]

  6. Barb

    09/28/2015

    I love the simplicity of your advice! It makes the size of an overwhelming task more manageable by breaking it down into the small amounts of time you have available.

    However, I also struggle with, the where to start. Specifically with cleaning out and reorganizing my file cabinet. Every time I start, I feel overwhelmed because I’m tired of having to go through my files every year to clean them out. It seems like such a waste of my time to file things, and then have to clean out an entire drawer at the end of the year. The lists of what to keep and what not to keep, are different now than they were twenty years ago. So, I struggle with knowing what to file and what to toss. Do you have any tips or suggestions on a good place to start with this project?

    At this point, I’d be thrilled to start on this project even if I could only work on it for 10 – 15 minutes at a time. At least then the end would be in sight, and this overwhelming feeling would be gone, freeing me to take concentrate on all of the other things going on in my life.

    [Reply]

  7. Gillian

    09/28/2015

    Great post! You would love Gretchen Rubin who has written a number of books. She quotes Voltaire, saying “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”. She also cites Loophole arguments for not doing things, similar to your examples.

    [Reply]

    Jules Reply:

    I think of Andrea when I listen to Gretchen’s podcasts – they’re cut from the same cloth 🙂

    [Reply]

  8. Tracey

    09/28/2015

    AMEN!!!

    [Reply]

  9. Jen T

    09/28/2015

    Thank you for the smack upside the head first thing on a Monday morning.

    No really, thank you.

    [Reply]

  10. Megan

    09/28/2015

    This is such good advice! The line about writing down the to do list once I have the perfect planner really resonated with me. I was also reminded of how this concept has worked for me in the past. I decided one night months ago to FINALLY figure out how to use my sewing machine. It didn’t take long to take it out of the box and read the instructions to thread the needle. I have had fun tinkering with little projects ever since! Thanks for the great tips on your blog!

    [Reply]