Down Memory Lane

Back in January, I wrote about Projects That Never Get Done. In that post, I publicly promised to take the first step on a long-delayed project in my house: getting rid of our two video cameras, which we haven’t used in many years. The first step was to find the videos that we had taken, so that I could inventory them prior to sending them off to be digitized. After all, I might need the cameras to properly inventory the tapes.

I did that first step around the end of January, and then for about six months, I took no further action. In the meantime, my daughter came home from college for the summer. In the back of my mind was the idea that if we were going to watch these videos to figure out what we needed to digitize, it would be more fun to do it while she was home. Finally, about a week ago, I realized that she was going to be headed back to school in three weeks, so we had better get started.

Emily on her 3rd birthday, documented in our home movies

For several nights over the past week, my husband, daughter, and I (and our dog) have sat down to watch these home movies, which started when she was 12 months old and we brought her home from China. We’ve gotten as far as her third birthday, and I can’t remember a time when we laughed so much as a family. Some of the incidents we filmed are still fresh in my memory, and others I had forgotten about completely. It has been a blast to see my husband and me, along with family members and friends, as we looked nearly 20 years ago. And of course seeing my daughter as a clueless little one has been an absolute hoot.

This seemed like an onerous project to take on, but now we eagerly look forward to having a spare hour or two to take a look at the next installment.

I bet you’ve got plenty of memorabilia lying around your home. Are they in a form in which you can enjoy them, or are they just more sources of clutter? Dig out those old movies, photos, and ephemera. Take the time to review them with your family. Relive the memories. Have some laughs, and maybe even some tears. If they are not being stored properly, work with a professional to preserve them. After all, if you can’t enjoy them, why save them?

My home movies turned out to be a great source of pleasure for me. I’m looking forward to finishing the project and finally freeing up the space that those two video cameras are taking up!

Projects That Never Get Done

My clients have them, I have them, and I bet you have them, too. I’m referring to those projects that you will get to “someday”. If you have one of those projects that you really want to accomplish this year, here’s a suggestion as to how to approach it.

First, evaluate the project and decide if it’s still worth doing. You may have been putting it off for so long that you haven’t really considered whether it makes sense anymore. Does it belong to an earlier phase of your life? Does it relate to goals you no longer have? If you never did this project, would it make a difference? Be truthful with yourself. If you decide it’s not worth doing anymore, then strike it permanently from your list of things to do — and eliminate the guilt that goes with not getting it done.

If you’ve decided that it’s still a go, here’s what to do next. Figure out the first step. That’s all, just the first step. Make it a small enough step that it doesn’t seem too intimidating. Then decide when you will do this step. Put it on your to-do list, or add it to your calendar.

Once you’ve done the first step, reevaluate whether it’s worth doing. If yes, then identify the second step and figure out when you are going to do it. Lather, rinse, repeat until it’s done.

Here’s an example. My “someday” project is to review the videos we took when our daughter was little, have them converted to DVD, and get rid of our two video cameras. We transferred most of the movies to VHS after we took them, and some are still in the original format as well. The whole project seems so intimidating that I have been avoiding it.

To take my own advice, I’m going to identify the first step. I think it would be to locate and inventory the tapes. That doesn’t sound too scary, since I know exactly where I keep them. I’m going to commit to myself to get this done by the end of January.

What project has been nagging you, and what will you do this month to get one step closer to making it happen?