Is there a project sitting around your office, closet, garage, or spare room? Maybe it’s something you’d like to get done, but there never seems to be enough time to get started. It sits in a box or on a shelf, waiting, maybe even mocking you.

This may be what I call a “dead-end” project. Ask these questions:

• Do I really have the time to do this project? Think through all the steps involved in completing it. Think about current obligations, work schedule, and family activities. Do you really have the time?

• Do I want to do the work needed to complete the project? Wanting the project done is different than being willing to do what it takes to get it done.

• Does the project utilize my strengths? Will I be doing things I like and am good at?

• Does this project match my goals for the next six months or year?

• Does it really need to be done, or is it something that I (or someone else) thinks should be done? Be honest.

• What would happen if it didn’t get done? Probably nothing. It’s not getting done anyway. Could I live with that and move on?

If you answered yes to three or more of the questions, you probably have one or more dead-end projects. There are many reasons why projects don’t get completed. They may be:

o Inherited. Aunt Minnie’s doilies were handed down, and now you feel the need to do “something” with them.

o Unfinished. For years I had a cross-stitch project from my college days tucked away for the days when I’d have “more time.”

o Old. Maybe you used to enjoy creating scrapbooks, but now all your pictures are digital.

o Too big. Piles of wood are stacked in the garage to build that dresser, tree house, hope chest, etc., but you still haven’t started.

o Stuff you’re not good at but feel obligated to do anyway. I hate selling stuff but felt that I “should” sell some items on Craig’s List rather than giving them to charity like usual.

o More work than benefit. Some things just aren’t worth the effort.

It’s time to be realistic about a dead-end project. It is probably not going to get done, and that’s okay. Not everything needs to be completed (gasp!). In fact, the wise man or woman focuses his or her energies on what is important and lets go of the rest.

This month I am giving you permission to let go of dead-end projects and to move on to things that fit with your life as it currently is.

You will still need to do something with whatever is sitting in the garage, closet or guest room. Here are a few suggestions:

• Donate any new or used materials (or even the unfinished project itself). Don’t worry about finding the perfect home for them. (That can become another project!)

• Find someone to do the project for or with you if you just can’t let it go. You may have to pay someone to piece together a quilt from the squares you’ve collected, but at least it will get done.

• Avoid beating yourself up for not finishing. Chalk it up as a learning experience and move on. Enough emotional energy has already been spent.

Take a fresh look at the project, task, or pile that has been hanging over your head. Assess its importance in terms of current goals and priorities. Let go of what you can. Get help with the rest. Then enjoy the peace that comes with a burden lifted. Let go of dead-end projects. You’ll be glad you did.

©Renee Ursem, 2012

Author's Bio: 

Renee Ursem, Professional Organizer and owner of Get It Together, LLC in Las Vegas, helps people learn how to organize and maintain their spaces using simple, practical strategies.
Renee can be reached at Find her on Facebook ( and Linkedin.