The Most Dreaded Task Is Next (Plus, The Remaining Punch List Items)

Yesterday, I realized that I’ve really reached an impasse. I came to the realization that the task I’ve dreaded the most — the one I’ve been procrastinating on as long as I could — can’t be put off any longer. It has to be done next so that I can finish up the rest of the items on my studio punch list.

That dreaded task is tackling this storage closet. It looks so nice when the door is closed…

But beyond that door is this mess. This ugly, unsightly, overwhelming mess.

This project overwhelms me because there are boxes in here that haven’t been opened in years. I think there are two boxes that are from the condo and have never been opened. I know some may say that if I haven’t needed anything in those boxes in this long, then I should just get rid of them. But I’m always afraid of throwing out something sentimental, like our honeymoon pictures or something like that. So for my own peace of mind, I really do need to go through them.

This is also the closet that houses the HVAC system for the studio. Figuring out how to maximize storage in this closet while working around this beast is going to be quite the challenge. No matter what goes in here, it needs to be arranged in such a way that the air conditioner can be easily accessed for maintenance and repair.

And I know I’ve told y’all about how the man who put this system in did a quick and half-hearted job in building that plywood base for it. I could kick myself for not sticking around while he did that and making sure it was done in a nice way (since it would show when the closet door is open), but I didn’t. I left him to do his work, and I came back to see this box that looks like it was built by a child who was using tools for the first time. So I want to figure out a way to disguise it.

But I need to get this done because there are several things that keep getting moved and shifted around in the studio, like the 15-lite door (that will be used between our bathroom and future bedroom eventually, but just needs to be stored for now), and this rolling shelf, and the other rolling shelf that hasn’t been assembled yet.

These things are constantly in my way, and I can’t finish that wall (baseboards and door trim) until I get them out of my way for good.

So I just have to make myself do it. I’d rather do just about anything other than go through boxes and decide what to do with everything, what to throw away, what to keep, where to store things that I’m keeping, etc. But I’ve reached an impasse on my studio progress, so I’m going to make myself start on the storage closet today. I mean, it needs everything. The floor hasn’t been painted in there. I can’t remember if the walls and ceiling have been painted. There’s no trim around the door inside the closet. There are no baseboards. There’s no light installed yet. Ugh. It needs so much work, but it has to be done.

But my punch list for the studio is getting smaller and smaller. Here’s a look at the progress I’ve made on the list I made in April.

  • Finish painting the ceiling and walls; Done!
  • Install and paint baseboards; In progress! Most are installed and just need to be painted.
  • Install and paint door casings on two doors; In progress! One door casing is installed.
  • Paint two doors;
  • Paint bases on work tables; Done! You can see them here.
  • Paint desk and add two drawers; Done! I didn’t add drawers, but you can see the finished desk here.
  • Paint black parts of paint swatch cabinet white; Done! You can see the cabinet here.
  • Finish wiring electrical outlets;
  • Add lights to cubbies; I’ve decided not to do this.
  • Finish trim on office area cabinets; Done! You can see the finished cabinets here.
  • Install window shade; Done!
  • Reupholster desk chair;
  • Make pendant light; Done! You can see the finished light here.
  • Frame and hang landscape design; Done! You can see it here.
  • Decorate long, blank wall; Done! You can see it here. (I do have some adjustments to make.)
  • Clean and touchup paint on floor;
  • Finish adjusting doors and drawers; Done!
  • Install drawer pulls and door knobs. Done!

So I have made quite a bit of progress. I’d down to those few final projects, which mostly consist of some electrical stuff, installing and painting trim, painting doors, and reupholstering a chair. Then I just need to get everything cleaned up, put away, and organized. I can see the finish line, and that’s such a relief. But for the next few days, I need to take this detour and get this dreadful storage closet project done.



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  1. Do you have any friends who can help? I’m great at sorting, deciding what to keep, and organizing everything, and I love doing it. I’m not great/experienced at building things. I would love it if I had a friend like you who I could hang out and “swap skills” with, helping her organize something she dreads, and then having her help me build something. Plus, chores are always more fun with someone helping.

    Otherwise, bribe yourself: “if I work for an hour, then I can take a short break to browse Pinterest or get a Sonic tea”, etc.

    1. (Hit post too soon, oops) Bribing myself works for me when I’m avoiding a task, because getting started is usually the hardest thing (darn inertia).

      Now, I need to take my own advice and call to make some appointments that I’ve been procrastinating on! 😁

    2. My mom has offered to help, but she feels like all she could really do is inbox things, hold them up, and ask me, “Do you want to keep this?” 😃 In which case, I should just do it myself.

      But I can always be bribed/incentivized with a Sonic Rt. 44 unsweet tea!! 😃

  2. Could you make a tall trolley, perhaps with an L-shaped base, that rolls in snugly against the HVAC unit to give you storage shelves, but then rolls out completely when you need maintenance access. I have something similar in a cupboard – though not unfortunately made-to-measure – and it works really well for stuff you don’t need to get at too often.

  3. Perhaps you can remember how much you have dreaded tasks in the past that ended up taking less time than imagined but resulted in systems that you really like. It is hard to get started, but you want the outcome. Focusing on the desired outcome is sometimes the only way I can make myself start on dreaded tasks…

  4. It’s going to feel sooooo good to get that closet sorted, organized, and completed! You can do it! GEAUX, Kristi!

  5. For disguising the terrible box — will a simple coat of paint work? Something dark to blend in with the shadows? Or light to blend in with the walls?

  6. Obviously you need storage in that closet. Depending on how high the ceiling is, shelves above the 6′ mark for long term storage such as mementos or holiday decor. Then some shelving units that will fit through the doorway when upright/loaded and ON WHEELS! That way you can pull them out as needed. I am looking at the space between the side of the door and the outside wall. 12″ built in shelves on the wall to wrap around to the HVAC unit would still allow access to the unit. Then consider the rolling shelf unit. I saw one online that was actually square so would be much more stable moving it. This would give you lots of storage for small items and yet can be moved out of the way for access to the HVAC. Here is one that isn’t exactly square but not likely to tip over either.
    Being a nurse and being in lots of hospital depts, I often thought that the rolling shelves for medical records and Xray files was pretty neat. There is only one aisle for the shelves and you have to roll the other shelves to the left or right to access the aisle for records or films you want.

  7. You might find Dana K. White’s YouTube videos helpful, especially the Container Concept. You decide how many containers you have room to keep—this determines HOW MUCH to keep. Then you decide WHAT goes into those containers. Once a container is full — and you need to add more “keepers” — you go through that “full” container and take out anything that — on second reflection — you can part with, in order to add the newly-found “keepers.” The beauty of this is that you end up with truly meaningful photos/memorabilia in the space you can afford for them to have a home. Dana’s methods have been a real help to me as I am remodeling my home.

  8. There’s a great book (I got it on Audible so I could tinker and work while I “read”) called Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White. It would be perfect for that closet. You don’t pull everything out at once. You do it in organized steps and you can stop in an instant and close the door and not have a mess on hand. It’s amazing how well it works!!!!

  9. I usually find chores I’m dreading and procrastinating on are never as horrible as they seem once I get started. Sometimes I tell myself I’ll just do one part of the chore now or set a time limit and after I get going I want to continue. Rewarding myself also helps. Focusing on how great your closet will look and function when you’re done can be inspirational.

  10. When I have tasks that are overwhelming, uninspiring, difficult, tedious, etc., I have a trick I use that I call “external discipline,” to basically force myself into doing what I do not want to do. I leave it until it absolutely positively must be done. Looks like you’re there.

    The second part of my system is setting a timer (sometimes a mental timer) that I only MUST do the thing for x amount of time, like 1 hour, 2 hours (depending on the project; I have actually set the timer for 15 minutes, for some tasks). Then I’m allowed to take a break, read, run errands, whatever “carrot” is out there that I wanna do. I’m also allowed to keep going after the timer ends, or get to a good stopping point first, if I want to. I’m also allowed to drop everything and run! More often than not I keep at it because by then I’m invested in the vision or the outcome or whatever the goal is.
    You’re an amazing woman and I’m glad you let us into your life! Thank you. You’ve got this.

  11. Since it’s closed storage I don’t think it needs paint or baseboards. Just put up the shelves, purge and organize. Besides, your organizational needs may change once you fill your cabinets or your aesthetic may change (you’ve already redone the back entry, your desk, the tables, some of the bathroom, and the wallpaper) and it would just be wasted cost and energy for an unused space. Allocate energy to things you’ll see every day like the desk chair.

  12. You have come a long way, baby!

    Just keep at it. I know how you feel. I put off going through my mother’s stuff in our barn for 8 long years and finally made myself do it. I’m so glad I did. I feel lighter somehow. Still have a couple of hours work to do to finish it, but it is too hot. I’ll finish in the fall.

    What is happening on your room addition?

  13. Hi there! Just my two cents, but if you can do with this closet like you did with your shoes, I think you’ll find it less stressful. Just keep it simple and basic. It’s a storage closet and you keep the door closed 99% of the time. A light would be helpful, but a simple bulb will do. Basic pre-fab shelving. Don’t worry about a painted floor or walls or trim. It’s a storage closet. It does not need to look pretty. At all. Do the bare necessities to make it functional, close the door, and move on. 😊 And enlist your mom or another friend to help with the organizing and purging. I’d personally suggest buying some good quality bankers boxes to store what you actually want/need to keep. Group like items, label the boxes, and set them on the shelf. You’ll be glad when it’s done… Organized is its own beautiful. 💜

  14. Lots of helpful suggestions here, but I’ll add one more. Instead of cardboard boxes for storing anything, use plastic ones with lids that seal tight. They will protect papers from getting moldy or brittle or faded, and protect against bugs like roaches (which love cardboard) and silverfish. The big plus is that you can see at a glance the contents. When our house flooded in a hurricane, I was glad I had stored photos in clear boxes with locking lids.

  15. Hi Kristi (and Matt),
    1. Do a really bright LED light in that closet. Low profile, for HVAC folks and you. Paint the walls white to reflect that light in there. No baseboards now. If the lack distracts you later, you can do that then.

    2. You will work for your special drink. Work X-time sorting before earning your tea excursion. Only actual sorting counts. Matt monitors you or he designates someone else. 😊

    3. I like the rolling storage idea with clear weathertight and labelled tubs. Keep it simple! Container store has some quite reasonable and any size you could need. I use them for yarn storage.

    4. Make sure the HVAc is **really** properly done; base, drain, wiring, and seals before you get too far into it. Codes do change. We had our then hvac team install the new system, but not tie it together at the top vent, leaving the system to drop CO into our bedroom hallway. So, …..

    5. make sure you have the CO/smoke alarm quality 15-20 year detectors you only totally swap out after they chirp their death and you have to order those online.

  16. When I have to go through my stuff n junk, my best thing to do is to have a friend come over, and I plunk myself down in a spot and go through boxes or whatever and she does the running. I sort to keep, donate and trash. The donate stuff goes in a box or a bag and out to a vehicle ASAP. The trash goes into a black trash bag and dealt with when the bag is full. It makes it so much easier to have a runner. I also never work on a project for more than 3 hours a day, it is just too tiring (emotionally draining). Good luck!!!

  17. I have several of the Seville Classics rolling chrome shelving units similar to your black one. Even my 48″x24″ with 3 shelves of folded clothes as well as a 48″ clothing rod laden with clothes has never been tippy. They easily roll out of the way. In a deep closet, you can put holiday gear on one against the back wall and then have a 2nd one in front with more frequently used items.

  18. “I came back to see this box that looks like it was built by a child who was using tools for the first time.”

  19. If this task is simply too overwhelming to deal with, you could always take the stuff out of that space and deposit it in the room loaded with stuff. Sun room? Some weeks ago, you admitted that it was a discouraging task you were dreading to take on. You showed us the state it is in and I could see why. Adding a bit more to that pile would be easy if you did it without rummaging through the contents of those boxes in the closet that are full of ancient items.

    Clear the way in that closet for the work someone else must be hired to do on the house machines, etc. Then, finish your studio. Period. Finish all the details and then smile when you admire all you have done. Case closed. (Remember how you felt when you finished the master bathroom?)

    But— before you begin the next project, tackle that storage space head-on and get it done. Even call in some help. Your Mom is willing. It is very valuable real estate. Once organized after pitching a lot of stuff, your creative juices will flow and you will know what to do in there.

    Why buy any storage shelves or bins until you see what you need to store.

  20. I almost hate to even say this, but……would it serve you better to have double doors on that storage/HVAC closet? Then you (and any HVAC person) could open both doors for easier access. You could then treat the storage side like a pantry, with shelves, maybe of varying heights and depths, that would be easy to access also. It would be a pain to have to create the opening, but I think it would serve you better with two doors.

  21. Kristi…I know that storage space is badly needed no matter how big one’s house is, or how many closets we have. If this closet was on my list of things getting done I would take everything out and set it aside. Then I would tackle the entire list of things inside the closet needing to be done. Everything. Then I would leave the closet empty. There would be plenty of room in the closet in case you ever need anything done to your HVAC unit, and you never know when you might. When the door has to be open it will look nice and clean.
    Only after completing the closet list I would then tackle all I took out. I would go through the boxes and other items one by one and find another space for the items I wanted to keep and toss the stuff I didn’t need. I know that storage is premium, and never enough, but a nice uncluttered closet is wonderful.

  22. Haul everything out, go through it, trim it out, paint inside walls and floors, build shelves or whatever storage situation you are going to use. Put on door knob. Just paint the box under the HVAC. Can’t really change it too much, unless you can make it smaller, but maybe it needs that size for the air flow. Done, see easy. LOL

  23. I know exactly the dread you are talking about. No advice here, just encouragement! (And I should probably tackle my own boxes of dread!)

  24. As you get started on the closet remember the Dana K White principles for decluttering. You already know what to do and have a plan. You don’t need to think about it, you just need to implement the principles. When I remind myself of these things the task seems a lot less overwhelming. Good luck, Kristi, you can do it!

  25. I feel your pain! I have boxes from my divorce 15 years ago I haven’t opened. I kinda want to throw them out but I’m like and worries there is something sentimental for my daughter.