Help me give up my project pipe dreams

I waste a ridiculous amount of time and some money on ideas that will never see fruition. Right now there’s a pile of lumber in my bedroom, some of it rough-cut to size, that’s been there for one to three years. Just now I made three sawcuts on the simplest project, so optimistically I could move that one another step forward this year. There are three others of much more complexity behind that.

In August 2016 I started knitting a cap. I finished the next March. I’m halfway through the matching gloves I started in September, assuming I don’t have to rip half the stitches out again.

Most ridiculously, I spend a lot of time outlining the steps to make my tiny apartment in a drafty old house more pleasant. Stripping and painting. Insulating and drywalling and trimming out windows. Ripping up the horrible carpet and redoing the wood floors underneath - of course the space between the floorboards and bare earth needs insulating, too. Did I mention this is a rental?

My humble life could be a lot more satisfying if I could quit wasting all that time that I could be spending on more useful matters, like celebrity crushes and lurking on the Dope. Well, I guess starting a thread is a step up.

Ideas? Thoughts? Kicks in the ass?


Make a goal. A very small one, to finish every day. Step by step gets the job done.

Maybe that same person who kicka you in the ass will also kick my butt and get me to actually finish some of my portfolio artwork so that I can show it to people on my job search!

You can finish projects (you finished the hat, which puts you ahead of me). I suggest you do some thinking about that project, compared to the others. What was different that allowed you to complete it? Can you replicate those things to any of your other projects?

You also need to prioritize your projects. Use any criteria you like: expense, impact on your free time, complexity, improvement to your life once completed. Prioritizing your projects will help you start organizing a mass of thoughts and disorder that seems out of control now.

It can take me decades to finish projects I start, and I’m sure I’ll die with many projects unfinished. So what?

As long as your unfinished projects aren’t hurting you or anyone else, the easiest thing to do is to accept the way you are and stop beating yourself up for something you are unlikely to actually change.

I enjoy the way I am. I’m always enthusiastic about what I’m working on.

I have a pile of sewing projects. All I need to do is get the sewing machine out and go to town. Some of these projects have been in my drawer for five years.

I also have a pile of broken jewelry. Since I no longer have my jewelry tools, the idea that I am going to fix these things is probably ridiculous. My new goal: get them to an actual jewelry repair shop.

Unlike the jewelry, which will require capital investment, my other projects just need finishing one step at a time. I think my problem is that taking any of the steps will result in a mess, while leaving the project in a drawer will not result in a mess. I bet if I canceled the internet I could find time to get to these things. (Except the jewelry.)

Write lists - I used to start lots of projects because I didn’t want to forget any of them - now I just add new ideas on a list, so I don’t have to start them. When you’re bored or have free time, or are at the end of a project, sit down with your lists and pick the one that you really want to do next; the others can wait for some other rainy day.

I have unfinished projects sitting aside, and projects that never finish that I keep working on. The thing to avoid is feeling a sense of disappointment in an unfinished project so that you can pick up on it some day when you have the time and/or inspiration and/or money. And sometimes you just say to hell with it and give up.

Thanks for the great advice. I tried this today - just a couple of items on my bike - and it helped take my mind off the other stuff. Also, yesterday I ordered a couple of things online fill the need well enough instead of what I’d planned.

Thanks also to everyone who told me I’m not alone. It’s hard not to let it get me down, partly because so much of my life “needs fixing.” I’ll try to remind myself that I chose this place because of advantages that other people might not see as such. A big one is that I love the character of old houses - and having lots of windows! Sweaters, space heaters and ugly floors are part of the price, and the reason the place is within my budget.