Just start it – part II: how to get big projects going

Turn off the TV, devote a couple hours each night, and soon your big project will be launched. Here are 11 big projects you could tackle.

By , Guest blogger

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    In this photo taken Aug. 18, 2010, Ron Atteberry of Warrensburg, Ill., checks the dimensions on one of his hand-crafted hope chests that he creates in his garage workshop. Mr. Atteberry had to find something to do with his hands after retiring from a Sullivan Cabinet shop and with his knowledge of wood is creating very detailed hope chests in all shapes, wood stains, and sizes. To get started on big projects, take two hours tonight.
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If you go home tonight and devote two hours to a big project at home, you’ve got a start.

Go home every night this week and spend two more hours and you’ve poured ten hours into that project. Spend four hours on Saturday and four hours on Sunday and you’ve got eighteen hours of project time.

You can do something that you didn’t really think you could ever get done. In one week.

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The rest of this post consists of twenty two projects you can do this week if you put some elbow grease and some time into it. Each one of them will save you either money or time over the long haul.

I encourage you to spend two hours each night – just flip off the television – and a few hours over the weekend completing one of these projects or one of your own devising. You’ll feel great on the other end of it – and you’ll be set up to save a lot of money or a lot of time in the future.

Make your home more energy efficient. The big part of doing this is air sealing your home, but it also includes things like installing a programmable thermostat and replacing your furnace filters and adjusting your ceiling fans for the right season.

Get a GTD system up and running. I thoroughly covered GTD earlier this year. A GTD system in place is really awesome, but setting one up takes a lot of time. Invest the time this week to corraling all your stuff and processing all of it.

Go through a full home and auto maintenance checklist. There are so many things around a typical American home (and garage) that will last much, much longer with a bit of maintenance. Why not spend this week maintaining all of the stuff you have so that it’ll stay working well for much longer, saving you money and time over the long haul? Use this home and auto maintenance checklist to get started.

Start a real filing system and get all of your papers into it. A good filing system makes it much easier to find things when you need them and also gives you clear places to put the papers you accumulate. Here’s some guidance for starting your own filing system. At the same time, you might want to consider making a master information document to leave behind.

Clean out all of your closets, decide what you actually ought to keep, and sell the rest. If you’re like most of us, your closets are full of clothes and other items that you’ve stuck into storage with the good intention of using them at a later date, only to find that that later date will probably never come. Clean out those closets and sell off the stuff jammed in the back that you haven’t seen in years, because if you haven’t seen it in years, you probably don’t need it.

Reorganize your pantry, fridge, and cupboards with real staples and prepare all your meals at home. A good pantry and fridge isn’t full of convenience foods that taste okay but are pretty unhealthy. Instead, they’re full of staples – items that can easily be combined with whatever fresh ingredients you have on hand to make tasty and healthy (and very cheap) meals. Clean out your pantry and give some of those convenience foods away to the food pantry – and replace them with real food staples. Then spend this week devoted to actually learning how to get around in the kitchen, preparing real dishes out of real ingredients.

Identify a great bank and transfer your accounts to them. ATM fees, overdraft fees, and maintenance fees got you down? There are a lot of banks out there that don’t push you around and are glad to have your business. Think about the features you want a bank to have and look at a wide variety of them (including online banks) using services like BankRate. When you find a bank that matches your needs, move your accounts there, making sure all of your automatic transfers and payments move as well.

Open up a Roth IRA and figure out your investment plan. I use a Roth IRA at Vanguard for my retirement savings. My belief is that if you’re making less than six figures and aren’t receiving an employer match on your retirement at work, your best retirement choice is a Roth IRA. Look for the right investment house for you (Vanguard is the one I use, but there are many solid ones out there, like Fidelity and Charles Schwab), then open an account and study the investment options carefully. Do some reading on retirement choices, but start your investments immediately in something very broadly based – you can always update this later.

Go through your media collections, pare them down, then sell or trade the excess items online. A media collection purge can go a long way towards reducing the clutter in your home and also reducing the cost of future books, games, movies, and so on. The best way to do this is to simply go through your collections, determine ones that you don’t mind no longer having, then listing them on sites like PaperBackSwap or SwapADVD.

Start teaching yourself a new skill related to your career. Almost all of us bring some sort of specific skill to the table in the workplace. At the same time, almost all of us can benefit by showing off newly learned skills at work – they’ll help us get ahead at our current job and improve our resume for the next. Start using your spare time to learn a new language, learn a new piece of software, learn some new programming skills, take an evening class, or study up on an emerging topic in your field. You’ll suddenly have that edge that you haven’t had before.

What are you going to do this week to make your life better? It’s up to you to turn off the television or the computer each evening this week and doing something that will really improve your situation.

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