Today I’d like to talk about something I’m calling, “The Avalanche Effect”. It’s a concept I coined while attempting to clean out my laundry room, and it describes a phenomenon that happens while tidying, decluttering or cleaning your house (especially if your space is particularly messy). The actual Avalanche Effect is when you realize that one project can’t be completed without first finishing another project, which can’t be completed without finishing ANOTHER project, and so on and so forth.
Essentially, each project uncovers something else that needs to be done, so instead of the one task you thought you were tackling, you actually have several! Typically this is the point where we get overwhelmed and abort mission!
Unless of course, you follow these tips to help you stay on task and avoid triggering an avalanche. ☺
1. Decide on a goal
What is it you’re hoping to achieve? Part of what makes the Avalanche Effect so detrimental to a project is that it’s often unexpected! (as avalanches usually are…). It’s easy to get so excited to start, that we often forget to visualize our goal. Having a goal will help you stay focused along the way.
2. Make a game plan. Ask yourself, “If this, then what?”
The key to avoiding the Avalanche Effect is to assess each task or room before you dive in. Now believe me, I’m the queen of starting projects blindly just to see some progress made, but this is where you’ll get into trouble. Before jumping in, look around the room and make a mental game plan. Do you see items that don’t belong? Do you see half-finished projects or tasks that didn’t get cleaned up? If yes, then imagine what it will take to complete those tasks. Picture yourself doing it! Ask yourself how long it will realistically take.
If you go down this mental rabbit hole and have trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, you’ve found your avalanche. This is the point where you need to decide to A) ride the Avalanche Effect to the very end, or B) work around that part of the task so you stay focused on the original goal. There’s never time for both!
Think of this exercise like a chess game. Try to see all possible moves as they relate to the previous task/move. This will help you judge how much time or effort is needed.
3. Don’t stop.
Assuming you’ve identified a goal, don’t stop until you get there! Give yourself a deadline. 1hr? 3hrs? All weekend? Whatever you choose, try your best to stick with it! Having a deadline is awesome for building momentum and keeping you motivated. It’s also great because it helps you focus on achieving your goal, and not get sidetracked with a task that triggers an Avalanche.
4. Leave time for clean up
This is something I tend to forget, but I’m trying to practice what I preach! If you don’t leave some time for clean up, you’ll have another mess on your hands. Don’t mistake ‘putting things away’ for the Avalanche Effect… There is ALWAYS time to put things where they belong (assuming they already have a home).
So that’s it! With these tips in mind, you’re now able to tackle a project without finding yourself trapped under (or running from) the Avalanche Effect. Good luck!
As many of you may know, I have a youtube series where I attempt to minimize my life. If you’d like to watch the video where I talk about The Avalanche Effect in greater detail (with a REAL example), you can watch it by clicking here.