It has been an odd few days here, as I wrestle with a to-do list that isn’t horrific, but seems to be intractable. Despite hours of diligent work, it’s just one of those lists that won’t shift. At the end of the day all I am crossing off is things like "make dinner" and "tidy desk" and "drink coffee" (and I only put that on there so I would have something to cross off.) I can’t shift the big ones, like "get ready for Madrona". I know that what’s wrong is that my list is too holistic – I’ve got big stuff on there like it’s one item when really it’s a whole bunch of little jobs that all have to be completed before the thing is done. In reality, I’m totally kicking arse and taking names, I just don’t get to cross anything of of the fraking list until I’ve done all the little jobs, and that’s lame. I love crossing things off the list.
When Meg was little, she used to freak out when she saw a big job in front of her. It turns out that she’s a really holistic thinker – she sees the entirety of the task ahead and gets overwhelmed. Her teacher that year (who was pretty much an angel, a brilliant, brilliant angel) said that she needed to learn to chunk tasks. You don’t have to learn a hundred spelling words this month. You need to learn three today, and three tomorrow… it’s not that big a job if you split into easy little chunks. Don’t look ahead, don’t see the big picture. It’s too big. He was right, and the whole family has been practicing "chunking" ever since then – and I realized this morning that even though I’ve known this since then, and practiced it – I have overlooked doing it on my to-do list. "Get ready for Madrona" is a huge job, and really it’s a whole bunch of jobs and sitting there on my to-do list like a leviathan, I’m not going to be able to cross it off until the 12th of February. If I split it up? I might be able to make some visible progress on the stinking list.
I’m going to try it with everything on the list. "Finish baby sweater" should really be:
Do math for button band.
(My mum chose the buttons. I like how when she brought them over she arranged them in a smile.)
Knit button band.
Sew on buttons.
See that? I get to cross off two! "Make Lou a sweater" should really be:
Ply a little bit and knit some swatches to see if it’s right.
(The top one is the winner, for anybody keeping track. Soft and bouncy and just spot on for gauge.)
Spin a full bobbin.
Spin another full bobbin.
Spin yet another full bobbin.
Set the twist.
Knit the sweater.
Sew on the buttons.
I wouldn’t get to cross much off there, but at least I can see something resembling progress. Something that keeps me from transferring everything on today’s list onto tomorrow’s list like it’s some horrible textile version of Groundhog Day. "Make Lou a sweater" indeed. I’m going to go re-write my whole list. It will be a lot longer, but at least I’ll finally get to cross something off.