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Sunday, 17 May 2015

If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well

My sister Amy and I had an argument last weekend. I was telling my sister-in-law about my week and how I'd stayed up very late on Wednesday night to finish a project – the one you see here in fact. As I also hadn't finished knitting Mum her Mother's Day present (and it was Mother's Day) Amy commented that I was always leaving things until the last minute.
Right then, visions of my first undergraduate years flashed before my eyes. I'd ignored assignments until the last possible moment. I gave them little thought, did the bare minimum of work and was often up late to finish them because I had done nothing since the moment the assignment had been handed out. The effort I put into projects now, whether they're for work, classes or love, could not be more different, so I strongly disagreed with Amy.


These days I think about projects for hours on end. I research, collect inspiration, start months in advance, put huge amounts of time and effort in, and can become, quite literally, obsessed.
I've thought about it a lot this week, and while the end result in terms of project output is vastly different, the toll on my health and wellbeing is exactly the same, in fact, it's probably worse.

My last year of high school and first year or so of university were the anomalies – I think I was burnt out. Normally I'm very driven, and a bit of a perfectionist. That tendency has been exacerbated in my career, but most particularly in my last job, where the mottos were "say yes, and worry about how to do it later" and "bite off more than you can chew and then chew like buggery" – pardon the expression.
It wasn't uncommon for a client to ring up at the end of the day saying he hadn't had time to look at our report but still needed 20 bound, high-resolution, printed copies for an 8am meeting the next day. We'd hang around the office until he'd send through 40-odd pages of corrections at 9pm and away we'd go. We were expected to do the impossible. I think I now expect that of myself.
I'm not really sure how to change this. I understand perfection is the enemy of the good, but I still think, thanks to my grandmothers, that if a job's worth doing it's worth doing well. Maybe being realistic about what I'm taking on would be a start... And also leaving myself some wriggle room for opportunities that come out of the blue, as they always do.

I swore when I left my job last year that I would never fill out timesheets again, so while I recorded hours for a full bodice of embroidery on a Mexican blouse out of interest, I'm really loathe to track how many hours my textile projects take. I want to be able to experiment, change my mind if something's not working, and even put a project away for a while if I need to think about it some more.
Still, these swatches you see here, were the last (bar one) in a conga line of deadlines and commitments that had me locked away from the world, exhausted and living in a pigsty (no time for cleaning). Something does have to change...

Any ideas?

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