Friday, June 22, 2012

A little at a time

I've found that pondering the scope of a project can prevent me from starting it.

Polish the stair railing, rewire the holiday deer, clean the ceiling fans, weed the yard. These chores were postponed indefinitely because the tasks from start to finish seemed overwhelming.

Polishing and dusting the stair railing.  That involves getting a rag, getting the Pledge, wiping down 70 stair posts, 5 newel posts, the base, and the banister.  The base is the worse.  It requires that you run your hand in between every single rail.  It would take an hour, maybe more.  I can always find something better to do for an hour.  But the railings were getting grungy.

It's hard for me to leave a task incomplete once I start it.  But I decided to break the tasks down into smaller chunks, to dedicate not an hour, but 15 minutes to a task.

Rather than tackle the whole stair railing, I cleaned the bottom section along the landing.  That was probably 15 rails at most.  The plan for the next day was the short section.  After that, the long section that had no newels. And finally the top landing.

Not surprisingly, when I started the second day, I was motivated to do the short and long section of the railing.  But not obligated.

And that seemed to make all the difference to my motivation.  I wasn't obligated to finish the task in one day.  I did my assignment.  And if I did more, well, that was extra credit.

I did the ceiling fans one room at a time.  I weeded one quarter of the yard, then allowed myself to move on to something else.  I broke the rewiring of the deer down to removing wire from one deer one day, rewiring one set of legs on another.

And it has been working.  Rather than lots of projects I have never started, I have projects in various phases of completion.  And they do get completed.

Which is really hard to accomplish if they never get started.

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