Tuesday, September 27, 2011

If you want a job partially done, I'm your girl

A realization hit me like a lightening bolt this morning, as I thought about my massive "To Do" list while I ate my breakfast:  I'm great at project preparation, or even project progression, but I suck at project completion.

I read this week's lecture for my writing class, took notes, looked at the homework assignment and thought about it (but didn't actually do the homework).

Then, I thought about my first big writing assignment (due in a week-ish), picked a topic, sketched a rough outline and took down some notes (but didn't actually start writing the paper yet). 

Then, I decided that it was time to make some communication boards for Maya.  I have BoardMaker, but had decided not to make boards until I saw the format that they were going to use at school (so that I could learn from them and stay somewhat consistent).  They sent home a sample board last week, so I thought I should make some. I was ready to go!  Except I had to find the cd first . . . sigh. 

I'll admit it---the misplaced cd was nearly enough to make me give up on this project. 

Why?  I don't know.  Sometimes I feel like there's always so-much-more-that-could-be-done . . . so much that it's easier to just say "Oh well, I can't do this all, so I may as well just take a break".  Like I spend so much mental strength thinking about the steps to do projects that I'm left without enough energy to actually get up and do them.  But today I was determined, and I set off searching for the dvd, while pondering my all-to-often readiness to (temporarily) abandon a project that a takes a turn for the difficult ("temporary" abandonment can last for hours, days, or weeks, by the way).

I started searching in the back of my desk and found this . . .

This is a small notebook that I bought when Maya started therapy.  The therapists would come and work with her, and I would sit on the floor and take furious notes so that I could replicate the exercises when they were gone.  The first 20 pages are full, and then empty.  Again, I'm a great project starter, but my follow through?  It's just 'eh'. 

The notebook itself is a perfect example of my project preparation---I got the ideal notebook to take notes in, but stopped after a few weeks.  I got the BoardMaker cd, but haven't made boards yet.  I set up my awesome computer writing station, but haven't done the real writing yet.

I got canvases and paint to make art for the kitchen, and . . . well, take a look:

A solid start (one completed painting), fizzling effort (a 3/4 complete painting), and a blank canvas.  Sigh.

After a brief pause to take the pictures you just saw and clear out a drawer in the coffee table, I found the cd!  Installed it on my computer, opened it up . . . and realized that I had no idea how the heck to use BoardMaker.  Oh brother.  On another day, I would have given up (again)---but today is a day of detemination!  I found some tutorials and watched them (for 57 minutes, I might add).  I learned the basics.

And, finally, after three different restarts, I made a board.

Maya's special instructor is coming by today, and I'm going to go over it with her (she's a BoardMaker pro) and see what I need to modify.  I'm going to send the board to school with her tomorrow to get feedback from the teachers.  I'm sure I'll have to redo it, but at least I did it.

I think sometimes it's the subconscious fear of not doing things perfectly that keeps me paralyzed from making progress.  It's hard to put the paint on the canvas (or the words on the paper, or the buttons on the communication boards) because, odds are, I'll look at it later and think "Argh.  I could have done that better".  But I'm starting to learn that sometimes any painting, flaws and all, is better than a blank canvas.


Cristina said...

Kudos on conquering BoardMaker! Thanks to Bertrand, my mantra has become: "done is better than perfect." Too many times I got stalled in writing the perfect email response, blog post, blog comment, thank you note, etc. that they were never completed. Now I don't stress about doing anything perfectly. I just do it. Or I am honest with myself about not doing things. (Am I really ever going to order from this catalog? Especially when I can look the items up online later? Toss.) It is SOOO liberating. And less time stressing = more time playing and enjoying my kids. :) Win, win.

Catherine Cardaneo said...

It must be a Gaeckle trait - I think we are all perfectionists and can't stand the thought of failure or defeat - I know if I really kept moving I could probably accomplish twice as much in a day as I do but I don't.

Erica said...

same problem here-although mine seems to have progressed into just not doing stuff! this inspires me though! and, man you are a good painter! I used to paint too....

Liz said...

Are you familiar with Myers-Briggs? The inability to follow-through is a characteristic of certain personality types (mine too!). :) I wish I would follow through on all that I need to do right now, but instead I am sitting on the couch and watching TV...

Nicole said...

Oh that post stung a little!! I'm actually reading blogs because I'm avoiding a) packing for a trip that we are going on in about 12 hours, and b) finishing off two assignments that I said I would do before we left.