Even small tasks, like cooking a new recipe, creating a budget, decluttering my closet, or painting a room in my house get put off sometimes.
I’ve noticed that when I successfully tackle a project, it’s often because I took the time to prepare for it ahead of time. It’s “Step 0” that can be done before you start on Step 1.
How to Set Yourself Up for Success: Do Your Prep Early
So in case you think I’m adding an extra step to every project, I’m really not. Whenever you decide to work on something, you end up either preparing what you need before you get into it or you end up scrambling around getting what you need as you go.
Prepping things ahead of time (hours, days, weeks… whatever) helps in two ways:
1. It Helps With Project Overwhelm
I can easily get overwhelmed at the thought of doing a task. If I turn project prep into Step, then actually doing the project doesn’t seem so bad.
Let me give some examples to explain:
Example: At our old house, we painted almost every room at some point. Before I would paint a room, I would gather my paint, brush, roller, paint tray, and drop cloth. Everything I needed to complete the project was prepared and placed in the room. Suddenly, the project seemed less overwhelming. I had everything I needed. All I had to do was get to work. Getting things prepared ahead of time often kept me from procrastinating. There’s no excuse not to paint the room when you have all of your tools and equipment sitting there.
Example: I’m a big believer in meal planning before I grocery shop. It saves money, keeps us from wasting food, and I always know what we can cook for dinner. The thought of planning our meals, making the grocery list, going to two different stores and then coming home and putting the food away can be exhausting. I often “prepare” to go grocery shopping by doing my meal planning and making my grocery list the night before I plan to shop (I’m still using Plan to Eat this and loving it!). It feels less overwhelming to break it up and get the prep work done early so that I can quickly hit the stores and get what I need.
2. It Helps with Productivity
I find that I’m much more productive when I’ve prepped for a project ahead of time.
Even though gathering materials for a project is usually quite easy, it still requires time and energy. By the time I’ve gotten it all ready, I have a bit less time and energy to actually do the project, which makes me less productive.
When everything is prepped and ready to go, I can just jump in to the project immediately!
Example: I had a yard sale last summer and man, those things are a lot of work! I had plans one day to get everything ready for the sale. I wanted all of our junk displayed on the tables with price tags on it. By the time I moved all of our junk into the garage and got together my pricing materials, I was over it. I was tired and had no energy left to actually do the project. If I had prepped things ahead of time, I would have been able to be more productive and get the project done. (Funny story: My yard sale lasted all of 2 hours. It was so hot out and I got so bored sitting there that after two hours we loaded everything in the car to donate 🙂 )
How You Can Prepare for Your Next Project or Task with Step #0:
House Projects: Gather the tools and equipment you’ll need and place them in the room you’re working on. This can be done days ahead of time.
Grocery Shopping: Plan your meals and make your grocery list the night before. Try the FREE 30-day trial of Plan to Eat here
Budgeting: Gather your bank and credit card statements and any other receipts in one place.
Yard Sale: Put everything you’re selling in one area and gather pricing supplies and tables to lay it all out on.
New Recipe: Buy your ingredients and any other kitchen tools early. Read through the recipe to make sure there are no surprises.
Craft or Sewing Project: Pull out all of the supplies and tools you will use so that you don’t have to dig around for them in the middle of the project.
Decluttering: Place 3 boxes and a trash bag in the area you’re going to declutter. One box for items to donate, one for items to sell, and one to items that belong somewhere else in the house. The trash bag is for trash 🙂
Creating a Photo Album: Gather and sort through photos to use. Organize them in a certain order so that it’s ready to put together.
Exercise: I’m even adding exercise on here because I’ve read over and over again that the best way to make sure to get your workout in is to lay out your clothes and shoes the night before!
I’m much more likely to jump into a project and get a lot done when everything is prepped and waiting for me to start. Early preparation takes away the overwhelm I can feel at the start of a project. It all seems more doable when I have what I need in front of me.
If you’re avoiding a task because it feels overwhelming or if you never seem to get as much done as you hope to, I hope you’ll try this easy trick!