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How to Make the Most of Summertime Projects (to Get You Through Winter)
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Ryan McRae.
Your Instagram probably looks like mine. Friends at the pool. Mojitos and margaritas on the menu. Vacations, trips, and barbecues abound. Not a whole lot of summertime projects.
If that’s your Instagram feed, the idea of “getting stuff done” might sound a little painful. It’s summertime! Sunshine! Beach time and summer concerts.
You mean I have to get stuff done?
Me, I tend to tackle summertime projects that bring me outside because I live where the winters are long and unforgiving. Winter is for inside projects — the writing and reading I want to get done.
Summer, though, is for the outdoors. And with just a couple of projects and hours a week, I get way ahead for the rest of the year.
So can you. Here are a couple of summertime projects to add to your schedule of barbecues, volleyball games, and concerts.
Books and Clothes Clutter
I tend to pare down during the summer. (People usually call this spring cleaning, but I’m literally digging myself out of the winter season — so I tend to hit this project in June.) I cull my t-shirt collection and other clothes that have not seen the light of day in years.
Using reusable grocery bags, I fill one with clothes I don’t want anymore. Once the bag is full, I put it in my car with the goal of getting the bag to Goodwill that week. (Since the bag is cluttering up my car, I’m motivated to get rid of it.)
By no means am I a minimalist. But seeing mounds of t-shirts and other clothes taking up space and not being used drains my energy and even, sometimes, my productivity.
I have the same attitude toward books. (Now, some people never get rid of their books — they have the luxury of a wall of bookcases. Not this nerd. I have one bookcase. I know if I get another one, I’ll fill it quickly.) If I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I’m not going to read some book again or reference it, I take a picture of it and put it in another reusable grocery bag. Once I fill the bag with books, I take it to my local used bookstore.
My goal is do this weekly — clothes or books — throughout the summer. As I do, energy returns to me because I’m not holding onto that weight anymore. I don’t look at my books and think, “I need to get rid of that dang book.”
I complete this project every year because I know myself. When Fall hits, I tend to have more of a hoarding mindset. (Winter is coming.) I don’t get rid of stuff.
If you have a similar trouble with getting rid of stuff, just think that 99% of it is replaceable. And if you’re really worried about the “stuff,” take a picture of it. Then, let it go. (Tweet this.)
The Dreadful Garage
The garage is the place where lost and forgotten things usually end up. Toys the kids no longer play with. Tools for a project we needed once. Mementos from 30 pounds ago.
When you want to clean out your garage, simply do this: Remove everything and put it on the driveway — and I mean everything. Every box. Every bike. Everything.
Next, completely scrub out the garage. Rent or borrow a pressure washer and get that garage sparkling clean. (Oh, and there’s going to be so many spiders.)
When that’s done, go through the stuff. Pick out what you are going to pitch, keep, sell, and give away. Get the “give away” stuff to Goodwill as fast as you can, and put on your garage sale quickly — as in the next three weeks. Someone could really use that drill or kids bike. Got things left over? Give it away to charity.
I know you spent money on all that “stuff.” You want to recoup your investment, if possible. But if the stuff cluttering your garage is costing you emotionally — just get rid of it.
Then, mindfully put away everything you plan to keep. Put it in clearly labeled totes so that you can find that stuff again.
(And perhaps your summertime project isn’t the garage — it’s the basement or attic. Same rules apply sans the pressure washer.)
The Paperwork Piles
You know what I hate doing during the winter? Anything that involves standing in line. I’d rather fight a rabid wolverine than head to the DMV when it’s cold out.
So during the summer, I renew everything. I make sure my license is up to date along with my passport. Along with the tedious paperwork, I get other “boring” things done: I get my oil changed and my car tuned up.
Then, I dig through my other papers — you know we’ve got a lot to go through if we’ve got a house or kids or a small business — and make sure everything is renewed. That way I don’t have to deal with that headache during the winter.
During the winter I usually want to start back up my habit of exercise and staying fit. But winter is a hard time to say, “Boy, do I want to get outside.” So I change my routine in the summer with a daily walk. And if I know it’s going to be blazing hot outside — summers are muggy here — I aim for an early morning or late evening walk. This way of getting back into a healthy habit is in and of itself a summertime project.
The habit eventually motivates me to do more: I swing some kettlebells and lift some weights. When the weather changes, I simply move my workout from outdoors to indoors. It’s not a huge shift, which is important. Habits are easier to keep when they’re easy to do. Plus, I’m still running on the motivation from being outside during the summer — it’s time to take advantage of it.
Sure, most of your friends won’t be filling their Instagram with “cleaning out their garage” this summer. So what? Taking and sharing a picture of a clean garage, an organized closet, or a beautiful sunset after a long walk is just as good. I promise.