You don't have to do it all at once

When we jump into anything, we often look at the whole project and fail to break it into pieces. I have a huge yard. We own two lots and our home is built into the hillside which means there are all kinds of challenges from hilly terrain to rocks to stubborn clay soil. We’ve been here for 20 years and yet some days it seems like we are starting over again.

This year, in keeping with with my theme of Start with Organization, I walked the yard with my husband and we surveyed the yard to determine what tasks we needed. I wrote them down in blank pages in my Daytimer. Since my Daytimer is always with me, I can’t lose the list.

One of the projects was the East bed. Even with this project, I determined that I don’t have to do it all at once. The east bed has lilies primarily and with our late spring, things are just getting identifiable. It has needed work for years because the grass was encroaching into the bed. Most of the bed looked like the photo above.

I could have dug the whole bed up and started over with new soil but I would probably have lost many of the lilies that fill that side bed. The amount of work would have possibly been about equal since starting over would have meant digging everything out, replacing the soil, replanting and possibly replacing the plants I might have damaged. I worked through the bed with a variety of tools to carefully remove the weeds and leave as many plants as possible.

I almost finished the bed yesterday and will go back to clean the last bit soon but I already can see the results from my work. In July, I will be rewarded with the results of my work. I will have an endless feast of color along that side.

What steps can you create?

When we look at any project, it often looks too big. Throughout this blog, I have talked about job search issues. I was inspired by Barb Poole’s post yesterday: Job Campaign: Vote for me! Barb shares that we must look at job search more like a campaign. Yes, you lost a job so you could be searching for a new one, but in reality, you are in a campaign to promote yourself. I have always said that you are the product but Barb’s post really clarified that for me.

If you break your “job campaign” into steps, like I did my yard projects and even the tiger lily bed, you will feel accomplishment. When things overwhelm you, work on only a tiny part of the project. Focus on reaching accomplishments with that part and eventually you will complete the whole task.

Yes, I do suggest that you start your job campaign with an accomplishment-driven resume. Then progress to your LinkedIn profile so that you have a marketable, searchable presence. Next, create a cover letter that will sell you to the hiring manager. I was inspired by this cover letter strategy created by a six year old.

Stop looking at the whole. Break it down into parts. You will experience success like never before!


  1. Raul Colon on May 17, 2011 at 6:50 am

    I have to agree in most occasions we can get things done because they become overwhelming. Taking things by phases or steps and making sure we celebrate and recognize our accomplishments makes sure we don’t lost motivation into the bigger goal.

    Excellent post!

    • Julie Walraven on May 17, 2011 at 7:48 am

      Thanks, Raul! I like the idea of celebrating too. There are times I dance and yell when things fall in place. It helps me to appreciate the challenges more. Little steps really help with any type of goal.

  2. Barb Poole on May 17, 2011 at 6:55 am

    Great post Julie!

    You’ve brought home the point that so much of what we have as goals–career or day-to-day life related–can overwhelm because it looms so large and feels so abstract. Taking that Daytimer or other piece to record, sort, sift and put into steps can make it all doable. And what a great feeling when one starts the momentum to make things happen. I have a feeling your yard will be beautiful this year!

    • Julie Walraven on May 17, 2011 at 7:50 am

      Thanks, Barb! Big goals are hard to reach. Little goals are much easier.

  3. Melissa Cooley on May 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Breaking a job into manageable tasks makes it so much easier to accomplish. One thing to remember, however, is to keep them in order. Sometimes it doesn’t matter, but other times it will make a big difference if you invert the order in which you try to complete them.

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