Friday, July 10, 2009

Getting Started

(This essay was written some years ago. I wanted to do a magazine for teenage girls. It didn't happen, but I did several articles for it. I want this blog to be for the family, too. So if you have teenage girls in the home, this might help them. I believe parts of it can help others as well. Nancy)
By Gracie Prior
The hardest part of any project is starting it. Do you often put off doing all kinds of tasks? There are probably many reasons for doing this. You don't enjoy the task, you think it will be too hard, you think you might fail, it's no fun, you're to busy doing something else (watching TV?)
Let's go over these reasons which are all called procrastination - putting off something that needs to be done. If the task is boring, no fun, or you simply don't like doing it, there is one type of remedy. Find the fun . There's a song from the musical Mary Poppins called "A Spoonful of Sugar." The line says, "In every task that must be done, there is an element of fun, just find the fun and snap, the job's a game." Whatever the fun is, find it. Even math can be fun. It's just a number puzzle and a puzzle is a game.
What's a yucky task? How about cleaning the tolet? That's no fun al all. Why not put your Zud or Bon Ami right in the toilet, flush and see how much stain you can get off before the water comes back in? Can you get a little more done every week?
Let's say this is a job that may be hard, or you might fail - like schoolwork. This type of putting off fails under the heading of perfectionism. You think you're not a perfectionist? Nothing is ever done perfectly? But do you want it to be? Are your standards too high? If you ae putting something off because yo think you won't do well, you're a perfectionist. This little fact surprised me, too. Know that no one is perfect and no task is ever completed perfectly. It's O.K. to fail if you have sincerely done the best you can without striving - trying to be perfect.
Relax. Begin easy and go back and fix up or get rid of the early bad starts after you get going well. The important thing is to start. If you are doing math, at least try all of the problems. Note the ones you don't understand and ask for help the next day.
In writing, get something on paper. You get better as you go along. A quick rewrite can fix up your mistakes later. After you get your ideas on paper, bo gack and polish your work. I'm not a fan of guessed spelling or sloppy grammar. Look up a word in the dictionary and check out a grammar book. (If you dn't have these reference books, libraries do.) There's no excuse to be sloppy. I'm just trying to get you moving and to realize your work can be good, even excellent, but not perfect.
After you have done your best, quit. Quit stewing about it and turn it in. Many lessons are learned from mistakes and failures. Schools should include a learining process. Next time, don't make the same mistakes. You always go higher, but with joy, not stress.
If you are wasting time and a job needs to be done, you need diligence and motivation. Diligence is hard word and it has its own reward. You get strengthened each time you successfully completa a task, especially a difficult one. It won't be as hard the next time. And the Bible states that "all labor has value."
To be motivated, think what good things will happen when you are done: a clean room (or toilet,) a good grade, a check mark on your "to do" list, a feeling of accomplishment, a gift for your parents. Don't think of these activities as work, think of them as what you do, a part of yourself.
My favorite way to get moving is to get out all my materials before I am ready to start the project. If I am going to clean house a 3:00, I get out the vacuum, dust rags and srpay at about 2:30. I finish what I am doing, or rest. Then, at 3:00, I just have to start up the vacuum. Getting out things is often a stumbling block to a new activity. Let the new project start ar "paragraph two" (so to speak). As you finish project "A", you still have a bit of momentum. Set up porject B. Rest. This is iportant so you aren't overwhelmed and don't feel sorry for yourself. Then do project "B" at "paragraph two" and you will already be on the way. To use another metaphor, you will be starting the new job at 50 mph instead of going from a dead stop.
When you are done, clean up. You still have energy. And set up the next chore. Be sure to save time at the end of the day, or seveal times during the day to unwind, rest, think, play, be creative, or just be. You're a person, not a machine. Rest should be built right into your day and your week. Enjoy your projects.


  1. Very nice essay! I don't allow myself the luxury of perfectionism. Whether I want to or not, I just get my junk done. And it's not always squeaky clean!

    Thanks for the reminder.