Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Art of Analysis and Planning, or Why I Can't Work with My Husband

Eli's 4th birthday cake. My husband and I worked on this
together. Personally, I think it would have turned out better
if either one of us had completed the project alone.
My husband does not like to work with me. He hates the way I do things and doesn't understand my process, but that's okay. I don't like to work with him either. When he starts a project, he likes to jump in, push ahead, make swift progress, and be finished. Details are minor compared to the big picture, the work just has to get done. Me, I see things a little differently. I think that details make up the big picture, that every big project can be broken down into a thousand little steps. For me, tackling a project is like eating an elephant: I take it one bite at a time, but first I have to conduct some research on which ammunition to use, where to get the elephant butchered, how to best prepare the meat, and whether elephant is as healthy as the other, other, other white meat. I am a planner. I like to make to-do lists, separated into categories, complete with bullet points. I like to shop around for the best deal on supplies and watch an expert tutorial so I know how to handle my medium. I like to practice my technique on something minor and prepare my work surface for optimal outcome. I probably have 20 different projects milling around in my head right now, in different states of readiness. I have a doll house to build, for which I am currently collecting materials. I have a scrapbook of family recipes, but have thus far only collected about six recipes and have yet to purchase the album. I have a book I am writing, and am currently on chapter 7, page 44, word 24,417. You get the idea. And each of these projects is assembled in my head a thousand ways before I ever begin the actual, physical work. For, you see, I'm something of a perfectionist. Not in the sense that everything has to be symmetrical, sterile, and cut with laser-precision, but in the sense that I want it just-so. In my mind, there is a right way to do things, and that is how I like to do them. This tends to cause problems when I feel rushed or try to do things spur-of-the-moment. I hate last minute plan changes. I hate interruptions when I am working. Once I have set myself in motion, any impediment is at best an annoyance, at worst a disaster derailing my train to the detriment of all. Because of this, my productivity is often low when I try to multi-task, and I am often unsatisfied with the results. I am working on this. I have learned to pace myself, work at the opportune time, and spend the rest of the day planning my next move. If my husband and I are working on a project together, I bite my tongue, and let him get it done. Or, ideally, we work on separate projects in close proximity to one another. And if I am caring for the kids, I discard the idea of doing anything productive altogether, and try to wing it. I'll let you know how that works out.  

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