Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Knowing What to Start, When to Quit, and How to Judge

First off, I was not out of ideas over the weekend; just having Technical Difficulties. We've had a lot of them this week.

Today was supposed to be the day I finished the blouse, but Technical Difficulties arose of the sort householders everywhere dread. Suffice to say that by the time I was done dealing with them, I figured I was already filthy, so I might as well go do yardwork in the muddy yard. I'm kind of sick of that blouse, anyway. And I got a query out in the morning so I had one measurable accomplishment I could show myself if I got all bent out of shape at myself in the evening.

The past week has been freezing cold (by local standards; also, 100-year-old house with smoky fireplace and space heaters that need their apertures cleaned and I can't figure out how to get at them past the safety features), but the afternoon is perfect spring weather, so I preferred yardwork to sewing, anyway.

Now, by yardwork I do not mean planting and trimming and smelling the pretty flowers. I mean going after the goosegrass and Queen Anne's lace before it takes over. This yard will never win any garden club prizes, not even the wildscaping prize. I just spend too many grand gardening days feeling like my head will fall off to go for anything more ambitious than a hope of having more things that bloom than not and a few herbs and vegetables. By far the majority of my gardening hours are spent pulling up plants that have gotten bigger and more numerous than I want, and hoping I got the whole root, clearing away dead sticks, raking leaves, and trying to figure out what, if anything, I can do about the trumpet vine. There always comes a moment when I look up, see the vast number of these jobs still waiting to be done, realize I can't make a dent in them today, feel overwhelmed, and think "I'll quit in half an hour."

That is the point at which I quit.

Experience shows that, if I push myself to put in that next half hour, I won't increase the visible amount of work done significantly, but I will wear myself out so much I can't do any work at all the next day. Whereas if I stop when I think that, nine times out of ten I can put in a similar amount of work the next day, God willin' and the creek don't rise.

It is important to know these things about yourself if you want to get anything at all done in this life.

The depressing thing is, I reached that point after only an hour and a half of work. Which is pathetic.

The encouraging thing is, two years ago, I'd reach that point after only an hour of work. Five years ago, I would reach it after only twenty minutes. And that was with no Technical Difficulties slowing me down.

It's not good enough. But it's better. It's significantly better. And it's not the only thing I got done today. The query got out, and though the Technical Difficulties weren't on the plan, they got dealt with. So I can just stop picking on myself about it.

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