Photo by Dustin Scarpitti
It’s about the little things.
As I’ve gone through life, I’ve realized recently that while I have large feet and long strides, I need to take smaller steps. Why is this? My body and mind want me to take the huge steps and see tremendous results right away, but this is not the right way to go.
Think of things in this way; when you need to cut wood, it is faster and more productive to clear out all of the smaller ones first so as to get them out of the way. Then tackle the larger trees surrounding you now that you have room to work.
An alternative to thinking is this, (I’ve recently started doing this and it is amazing how much better I feel mentally!) Don’t try to undertake the huge tasks at first. Opt instead to clear out the smaller tasks which will be easier to handle at first.
Let’s look at minimalism and or downsizing whichever fits your particular mindset.
The difference between the two is this; minimalism is where you want to have only the least amount of things in your life to function whereas downsizing is simply wanting to get rid of some of your stuff without any major lifestyle changes being made.
When you look at it in this fashion, hopefully it helps you find which side you want to work towards. Now on with the discussion.
You want to become a minimalist or simply want to downsize your life, where do you start? This is the beginning and the end of so many people’s journeys. It really is sad how many people never even get started because they see the pile of junk in the garage and lock up. They throw their arms up in the air and scream, “I can’t do it! There is too much %#&! to deal with!”
Let’s be honest, you’ve done it and so have I.
That’s right, I lock up at times.
I see the huge pile of crap or the overwhelming amount of things to get done, (especially as I’m working on finishing my house to move into!) and you just freeze. You look around, wander over here and move something and see a whole mess of stuff underneath it and freak out. Wander over there and start to sort some things on a shelf and quickly run out of room to sort so you stop.
Come over and look at my big shop and you see this exact thing. I have no idea where to start, so I don’t. I am defeated before I even begin.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
I’ve asked myself countless times this very question. Why? Why? Why? Why do I do it? It never ever ends well.
Here are some steps that I have been integrating into my life that have been helping me to accomplish things.
- Plan it out. Don’t just charge in there and start slinging things without some sort of game plan. No successful sports teams do it so why do you?
- Get some help. Whether it is your spouse or your best friend, get someone to help you even if it is solely to be your encourager. Trust me on this one as I’ve had to do lots of things by myself and it is awful. At least get someone to talk to while you do it!
- Small tasks to clear the way for the large tasks. There is large tasks with everything in life. Clear the small things out of the way first so that you have room to work on the large task.
- Be organized. Literally do this, when sorting things in your garage, grab containers of all sizes and sort out the nuts and bolts.
- Don’t be afraid to commit to small steps. I hate doing this! I hate it more than anything else when it comes to working on something. I see a little progress here and there but fail to see the overall goal slowly getting closer to being done. Whether your doing a large task or a small task, it doesn’t matter how much you do because in the end, each bolt had to have a washer and nut put on one at a time.
- Don’t be afraid to not set deadlines. Did you read that right? Not set deadlines? For me, absolutely! This doesn’t excuse me from not doing a task. Instead, what it is doing is allowing me the liberty and freedom to enjoy life and work at my own pace.
Let’s look at each of these a little closer. Feel free to skip to the ones you want to read about.
Plan it out.
You can’t go at it like a wild banshee swinging a hammer and expect everything to come out great. It only happens that way in the cartoons.
What you need to do instead is make plans. Remodeling a kitchen? Good for you! You will soon find out that there was something you missed or forgot about. Don’t let this ruin your work though, just deal with it as it comes.
Working on a project? You will need materials. Sometimes its better to know well in advance of materials needed to take advantage of sales.
Don’t stress about things not going according to plan! This happens with absolutely everything I do. I used to get upset about it and think it was my fault when in reality it was someone else’s fault and I’m the one that has to fix it. Just deal with it.
Get some help.
Okay, another confession is coming. I hate asking for help. I really do. Unless it is something that I cannot physically move or do on my own, it takes everything I have to ask for help.
I want to be able to prove to people that things can be done differently. Sure I get things wrong and make mistakes, who hasn’t?
Let me break this down some for you.
When I’m doing something I hate, (usually after some weeks of avoiding it has ensued and I can’t stand the sight of it anymore) I will ask for help from my wife. Sometimes all I’m looking for is just for her presence with me.
I’ve found this out in studying people and listening to others; if someone else is in the same miserable place as you physically, you can share the burden of the situation.
However, I will not under any circumstance ask her to help with insulation installation unless absolutely necessary. It is the most horrible thing that I can think of to ask someone to do. It gets in your skin whether you cover it or not and some how it always wind up in your areas where you really wish it hadn’t.
Sometimes its simply a matter of having someone else there with you.
Small tasks clear the way for large tasks.
The best example of this is finishing my house. I can’t remember how many times I’ve said, “I can’t work on this until I get this and this done. But I can’t get those things done until I get… done. And I can’t do that until I have this part; so I’m working on this.”
Do you know how frustrating that is?
I keep wanting to get the big things done but all the little things are getting in the way! So what I started doing was the small things. Ask yourself this question.
How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at at time.
This is hard advice for me to follow, but it makes me feel so much better when I can take three bites as opposed to seeing the whole thing and walking away.
I can’t tell you how important this is. Be organized. Be the neat freak that has everything labeled. Put everything back where it belongs when you are done with it. (Guilty!) Sure this is probably one of my biggest faults with projects. I leave my stuff where it is so I can pick it up the next time. Nice theory, too bad it is horribly inefficient!
I’ve ‘lost’ my tape measure I don’t know how many times due to not putting it back where it belongs. I recently bought a second tape measure because I couldn’t find the original. I only wanted 1 tape measure in my tool set. However, I didn’t put it back where it belongs and couldn’t find it. When you’re finishing a house, you need a tape measure! I eventually found it 2 months later in a drawer of my tool shed desk. All because I didn’t put it back in its home.
When you are organized, a complete stranger should be able to walk into your shop/garage and be able to find any tool you ask for without being prompted. I have certification in this field and I didn’t really think it was helpful until I left a workplace that practiced this to the core to a place that has never heard of it. It is a nightmare to try to find something there. I was looking for a particular screwdriver one day and found 3 specialty tools for putting together rabbit cages, and handfuls of tools that were not needed at all. 45 minutes later I found what I was looking for due to the fact that I stopped what I was doing and started organizing the tools. Thankfully, most of the tools stay in their new homes.
Don’t be afraid to commit the small steps.
I’m not one that likes to take the small steps. I like to get things going and results coming in. In my error of thinking, I have not realized that the large steps involve all the smaller ones.
I cannot complete a story unless I write out every single word and put a space in between the words properly so you can read them. I sit here for hours at a time, painstakingly working on stories but fail to see the smallest of steps involved with completing them.
Spaces, periods, commas, so on and so forth, all play a vital part of the story. But when it comes to doing a project, I want to jump to the end result forgetting that the end result is a combination of all the small steps. Exactly like writing.
Don’t be afraid to not set deadlines.
I have issues with deadlines and expectations of myself and others. I put the bar to unachievable levels and then beat myself up when I don’t accomplish them. My latest lesson involving this.
While finishing our house, my goal was to be in the house by winter. This gave us around 6 months or so to work on it. Can you guess what happened? The temperatures started to drop and we still were not in it and the stress levels were climbing through the roof.
We began arguing for no reason, losing our tempers at others, and just being downright cranky people. All because we had an unrealistic goal of being in the house before winter. It isn’t going to happen! I lost my job halfway through the project and the money came to a screeching halt. Sure we had plans to get things done and we were saving money for this and that without any issues and then that all changed. I had no control over the situation, but I have to adapt and move on.
We are still not in our house as this is being written. However, I work on it when I get time and we save money for the needed items when we can. We have lifted the deadline and now we say, “We’ll get in when we get in.”
Is this way of living tough? Depends on how you look at it I suppose. I’m having to make things up as I go and other things are the traditional methods. Hard at times, and easy at others. It all depends on your skill levels. I’ve been around construction of various methods throughout my life and I’ve always had a secret learning method called “listening”. One would be surprised at how much information is available if you only listen to it.
So while this has been a lengthy post, I hope that you were able to glean some new concepts or ideas from it. I don’t claim to know everything and I’ll be the first one to admit that.
If you have comments you can leave them with the comments section and questions can be asked there as well. Hope this was informative for you. Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts.
Email me @: Zavier@tallguyshortstories.com
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