Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Shoe-Tying Project

I like when tasks are organized into “projects.” Being immersed in something for a finite period of time seems to be my preferred mode of operation. In past jobs, or in school, I was always more engaged knowing there’d be an ending to whatever I was working on (rather than toiling at something day-after-day with no end in sight. You know, like forever).

That’s why I enjoy writing novels.

I can bust my butt on them for two or three months (or longer), then move on to another project. Sure, I’ll come back to them for editing, but I view that as a different project—also one with a finite ending point.

That’s why I call other things I’m working on “projects.”

Every year, there’s the raspberry-harvesting project, and the getting-the-kids-ready-for-school project, and the clean-the-basement project. A few years ago, there was the cross-country-trip project. There have been family-reunion projects and bookcase-building projects, and the record-all-my-vinyl-records-to-MP3 project (ongoing). And don’t forget the tri-weekly grocery-store projects.

One of the best things about having a project orientation is being able to cross each one off your list when complete.

Now it’s time for my catch-up-on-everything-I’ve-fallen-behind-on-while-I-was-working-on-my-last-project project.

Wish me luck!

What about you? Do you prefer working in bursts on projects, or do you like working in a steady-state mode?



Unknown said...

Great topic, Alan! I've never actually thought about it before, but I guess I tend to look at – just about everything – as a project...with an end. Editing, yard work, gardening, shopping; however, I work both styles at the same time. I work in spurts AND in a steady-state mode, sometimes simultaneously.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I like both! With writing I'm definitely a steady pace person, but with closet cleaning or garage cleaning I want it all done at once and quickly!

Gosh, you only go to the store 3 times a week? I need list-making lessons...

Terry Odell said...

I'm with Elizabeth. My reflexive answer to your question was "yes."

Since we've moved to the mountains, I've had to become organized (ok, I've had to TRY to become organized) because it's too much trouble to drive 35 miles round trip if you forget something that's not available in town (which is 6.6 miles from our house).

Right now, we're full of projects--renovate this, decorate that, buy this, buy that, buy more this, buy more that. Moving is such a pain!

Jacqueline Vick said...

Definitely bursts. Preferable short bursts! I'm going to try to look at the things outside of writing as projects, too. It makes them sound more exciting.

Alan Orloff said...

Crystal - Unpleasant things, if they have an end in sight, are somehow more bearable.

Elizabeth - Why doesn't it surprise me that you do things both ways? I'm sure if there were a third and fourth option, you'd do things 3 or 4 ways. Where do you get the energy?

Terry - Moving is the ultimate "unpleasant" project, at least for me. Although it's nice once you get settled in your new place.

Jacqueline - Small, manageable projects. That sounds like a winning strategy. Congrats, you have successfully completed this phase of your blog commenting project!