Restarting a Stalled Project

Unfinished Knitting

I never thought I was one to leave a lot of unfinished projects in my wake, but after spending the recent three-day-weekend almost entirely at home (in my pajamas!), I discovered that I do that more than I realized. I found cleaning projects only partially completed, organization projects left unfinished and of course, several knitting projects that had been abandoned for something new.

It’s interesting to think about what makes us stop in the middle of something and move on to the next thing. Sometimes it’s as simple as a distraction or running out of time, but if it’s that simple I would think you would return to it again as soon as possible. So why leave something hanging over your head or cluttering up your house for months or even years without finishing it? I thought about it as I stared at my cluttered file cabinet, a project that I started over the summer and haven’t touched since, and figured that there had to be an explanation and something to help me get the ball rolling again.

  1. Decide if the project is still relevant.
    If it’s been a year since you’ve made any progress, it could be that your situation has changed and the work you were doing has no relevance today.  If that’s the case, let it go. But if it is still something you want to pursue, it’s time to get excited again! What prompted you to start the work in the first place? Find that inspiring article or look at that pinterest board and refresh your memory!
  2. Outline 3 immediate next steps (no matter how small).
    Sometimes for me, a project seems so big that I am intimidated by its size and become paralyzed in action. Like all the time management books will tell you, break it down. Identify the next 3 things that need to happen. For me that was print labels, shred papers and re-order my files. Seeing that the next thing you have to do will only take a few minutes will make it easier to start.
  3. What do you need in order to continue – a skill, a tool?
    Did you take a break because you were missing something that you needed? For me that’s often the correct size of knitting needle, more file folders or replacement ink for the printer. Whatever it is that you need, put it on your list and get it. That might have been the only hurdle these last few months between you and a completed project.
  4. Split up the work into several shorter sessions.
    The thought of spending my entire Saturday finishing cleaning out the pantry and kitchen cupboards sounds exhausting, but tackling one shelf a night doesn’t sound too bad. Just like you broke down the project into smaller to-do items, break up the overall time into smaller sessions where you’re less likely to lose steam.
  5. Don’t start anything new until you’ve finished.
    If all else fails, commit to not starting any new projects until you’ve finished anything that’s already unfinished. You’ll get to the point where you really want to start something new, like a new knitting project for me, that I’ll do anything to get started, including picking up an old project and spending a few more hours finally completing it.

I was able to finish a baby blanket that had been sitting on the needles for almost 6 months and I finally finished getting my new filing system put together in the office. It was a little hard at first to get started again, but once I broke it down into manageable tasks, I was done in no time. Now I have one more unfinished knitting project that I must complete before I can move on to something new. Talk about motivation!

2 thoughts on “Restarting a Stalled Project

  1. Alicia Johnston (@aliciajaybird)

    While purging my closet recently, I discovered a shelf where I’d put a whole bunch of clothes that needed ironing or mending. They must have been sitting there for months! Yikes. Definitely a sure sign to either drop them (and donate ones in OK shape). I’ve just started a new crochet project and am remembering how therapeutic it feels to just bliss out while chatting with a friend or watching TV and creating!

    1. Katelyn Post author

      Isn’t amazing how the concept of out of sight, out of mind works? I think that’s why I have so many unfinished projects in the first place.
      And totally agree about creating being therapeutic. I love spending my evenings watching a movie or listening to the radio while knitting. Amazing!


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