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3 Ways We Can Be Grateful for Our Unfinished Projects

Unfinished projects get such a bad rep. You start a project then abandon it when you get distracted, bored, stuck, out-of-time, or something shinier catches your attention. Soon enough thoughts of guilt and shame show up.

“I should finish that.” or “I never finish anything.”

It’s a common pattern when someone’s getting organized to start something and then stop before finishing due to several factors.

While it may be hard to see the positive in an unfinished project, here are 3 reasons to be grateful for projects that are half-completed:

1. At Some Point, You Took Action! – Something got you to start your organizing project. Something got you to take action. Something IS working! How wonderful! What was it? And who showed up? Finding out what that seemingly “invisible force” was that got you to assert your willpower will give you clues on how to pick the project back up and finish it to completion. Nonetheless, celebrate what you’ve already accomplished. See the glass half full, not half empty. A simple shift in perspective changes the entire picture.

2. They’re Easier to Remember! – In psychology, there’s something called the “Zeigarnik Effect” which states that unfinished projects are actually harder to get out of your head than completed projects. Who knew?! For example, if you’ve already organized your pantry but haven’t finished tackling your linen closet, you’re more likely to remember the details of the linen closet than the pantry. Why is this so great? Well, think of your unfinished projects as a gift that keeps giving the constant reminders of cheering you on to the finish line. Every time you see an unfinished project and then observe a thought inside your head like, “I need to finish XYZ” – instead of reacting with frustration that you’re behind on your to-do list, react with gratitude for the visual reminder to finish what you started. Without reminders, it’s easy to forget altogether!

3. They’re Just Opportunities in Disguise! – Unfinished organizing projects are just opportunities in disguise. The bedroom closet that you started decluttering is an opportunity to give your no-longer-needed clothes to others in need! The stacks of papers in your home office waiting to be sorted and organized are opportunities for you to feel growth and accomplishment! And the piles of stuff to sift through on the dining room table are opportunities to make the space more comfortable so you can reconnect with friends and family over a homemade dinner!

Unfinished projects may look messy and leave clutter in the way of your day to day tasks. But instead of seeing them as little piles of stress, we can remind ourselves that there’s always something to be grateful for. We just have to make time to restart them and see them through to completion.

The question is, when will you continue? You asserted your willpower to start. You just need to assert your willpower to continue. If you did it before, you can do it again! After all, you already know how.

And if you have LOTS of unfinished organizing projects, just tackle one at a time (starting with the most important one first). And for any unfinished projects (organizing or not) that are no longer important to finish, end them and move forward. The key is to keep moving (no matter how slowly).


If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing it if you think others could benefit from the information! There are share buttons at the top of this post. Thank you for being here, I’m grateful for the community we’ve created together!


    Alejandra Costello
  • About Alejandra

  • Since 2008, organizing expert & certified life coach, Alejandra Costello has taught thousands of students in 132 countries how to get organized through her video-based training programs. Her YouTube videos have been viewed 100+ million times. Named 1 of the 5 most organized people in America by HGTV and "The Decluttering Queen" by Good Morning America, Alejandra's expertise has been featured in The New York Times, Oprah.com, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Woman's Day, Parents Magazine, and CBS. You can read more about Alejandra here or see our Press page here.


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