3 Best Times to Begin a Project

Ever wonder when would be the best time to begin a new project?

The Best Time!I do that from time to time.

And when we spend a great deal of time deciding when to begin, we are wasting time.

Wouldn’t it help to have a plan for when to begin a project?

Yes it would.

We often do not realize there are three basic types of projects, each with a sensible set of parameters that nearly dictate how to decide when to begin.

First, there is the long-term, self-started, easily interrupted project.

Crocheting an afghan for that wedding scheduled for next spring? Yes, you could begin it any day. It’s so far away, when you begin is not very important.

The best time to begin, if you really want to accomplish this project, is now.

Today. As soon as you finish reading this post.

Realize that beginning such a project includes, first, scheduling its progress. Scheduling means counting the units of the project such as skeins of yarn, and comparing to the time left, such as six months. Does the afghan include 12 skeins of yarn? Then you must complete two skeins every month, one-half skein every week.

Scheduling such a huge project this way accomplishes three objectives:

  • You will realize you must begin soon.
  • You will see how easy it will be to finish on time.
  • You will know, immediately, when you need to stay up past bedtime or work while talking on the phone, thus avoiding putting it all off until it’s too late.

Second, the Help You Promised to Provide

Get roped into making cookies for the next event at church? Promised to present a workshop at the ladies’ retreat? Someone counting on you to . . .

. . . It doesn’t really matter what we place in the blank, here, you have given your word you will do this thing. On time.

Guess when the best time is, to begin.

Now.

Immediately.

This is a matter nearly of life/death importance: It is your word. At least you can find the recipe and make sure you have all the ingredients. At least you can make an outline of the points you hope to present in the workshop, or a list of the visual aids you will need.

When I promise to bring something to somewhere, I often place that thing in my purse or in my car, immediately, before I forget. Then it’s done. If I arrive at the appointed place, it will be there with me. If I am not home when I give my word, I record a note to myself in my “palm pilot”. These notes MUST be dealt with before my next shampoo, or they will be erased. I know that and act accordingly.

Even if I say I will provide the thing next WEEK, it goes into the car NOW (unless it will melt, in which case it goes by the front door, in the way or even hung from the doorknob, obviously outward-bound.) With food items, I post a sticky note on the door at eye level, then another on the steering wheel of the car.

And when you say you will pray for someone, do so in the next breath, especially if you say this in an email. Then it’s done, and the prayer-ee will notice any effects, such as unexplainable peace, immediately, and remember it came from God.

Third, Those Projects You Wish You Could Accomplish

No one really cares if your kitchen is reorganized, but you wish it. Few will notice the grass in your day lilies, but you’d like to get it out of there. No one but you knows how messy your filing system on your laptop is, but it’s driving you slowly and completely crazy.

Begin now, by scheduling a non-negotiable time, each day, to work on it. By non-negotiable, I mean telling the children, “You know Mom has to fix the kitchen (flower bed, computer) right now, every day, so can it wait?” I consider interruptions akin to interrupting a phone call, if I am keeping a promise to myself. Children can even answer the phone for you while you are elbow-deep in kitchen utensils, you know, and you can train them to answer however you want, such as: “Mom is at work, right now. May she call back later? Thanks!”

So: At 10:00 each morning, I will empty one kitchen drawer, get the ick-o out of it, hammer the thing back together better, re-line it with new liner, eliminate the extraneous contents, and reload. It only takes a half hour, or less, and you will not believe how much more you’ll like yourself at 10:30.

OR: At 6:30 each morning, I will pull the grass from the day lilies for ½ hour.

OR: At 10:00 each night, I will get the misfiled folders out of one file and find all the missing things that should be in it.

Then give yourself another such kiss and hug tomorrow, on schedule.

I know, it seems like so much work, it seems so far away, it seems I’d never forget such a promise. However, the truth is that if we decide NOW how to deal with these challenges, we succeed. He who fails to plan, plans to fail.

So, here’s a quiz:

Super Smart How-To…

…IN ONE TRICK:

  1. Break free from slavery to the exact moment the dryer stops…
  2. Make clothing last longer, and stay cleaner longer, and be easier to clean next time…
  3. Save money and the environment…
  4. Keep your husband looking super all day long…
  5. Keep your wall from disintegrating due to spray starch overspray…

It’s just not so difficult. REALLY. You CAN do this!

Half load of laundry to be starched.

Half load of laundry to be starched.

First: Place clean clothing to be starched in washing machine and fill half full with warm water. This can be more clothing than you would normally add to a half load of wash, because we will not be trying to get clean, and concentrated is good. You may have to use the wash cycle to achieve warm water, but do so only until it sloshes, then shut it off until you finish the remaining steps.

Prepare starch water by bringing it to a boil.

Prepare starch water by bringing it to a boil.

Second: Bring a couple of quarts of water to a full boil.

Add one half-cup of starch to two cups of water and stir.

Add one half-cup of cornstarch to two cups of water and stir.

Third: Add one half-cup of cornstarch to two cups of water and stir until well-mixed and lump-free. “Lump Free” is important. Turn off heat under boiling water and slowly add starch mixture to boiled water, while stirring a lot. Keep stirring until it turns from white to a “cloudy-clear” color.

Rinse cycle for starch

Rinse cycle for starch

Fourth: Pour contents of the pan onto the surface of the wash water and set for the last rinse cycle of the “gentle spin” choice. By using the last rinse cycle, you can close the lid and walk away from it, knowing it will not automatically do anything more to this load. By choosing “gentle spin” you keep more starch inside the clothing and not going down the drain.

Dry, starched shirts, ready to iron!

Dry, starched shirts, ready to iron!

Fifth: Hang clothing to dry. Once dry, dampen slightly and iron. Don’t worry; at first the clothing will be stiff as a board, but as you iron, it will soften to just exactly perfect. You will SO love this!

 

Later

Okay, it’s later now.

Elijah in the wilderness, by Washington Allston

Elijah in the wilderness, by Washington Allston

When I was raising children, my answer to the eternal question about my work phone number — you know, the question that implies you are a check-forger if you do not have a separate work phone number — was: “I am self-employed, so the phone number is the same.” Always got raised eyebrows and curious comments from that. No put-downs for being only a mom.

Nowadays, however, I give my cell number for the work number. Odd the question does not come up so often.

If they asked me, out of curiosity, what I did as a self-employed contributor to the GNP, I often said, “My husband and I manage a home and school for children who would be otherwise homeless.” Boy, did that answer cause awe!

If they asked me more, I just kept on with things like, “Well, the pay is not the greatest, but the perks go beyond money. The satisfaction level is off the charts. Knowing those blessed little ones have a happy place to call ‘home’ just makes my day, especially if they hug me or call me ‘mom’.”

I actually had named our homeschool, ages ago, so when folks asked, I just gave that old name: Cherith Christian SChool and Home. (Yes, we capitalized it wonky, so folks might think to pronounce the first word with a hard “ch”. (Cherith is the brook where Elijah found water and birds brought him food during the time of a huge drought. 1 Kings 17)

Nowadays, when someone asks my profession, I tell them I am a retired educator and textbook writer. No one usually ventures beyond that because most people know not to mess with a teacher.

But if they continue in this line, I tell them I have taught all grades and the textbooks I wrote were for high school level literature. Sometimes I insert, here, my years of magazine writing. That usually stops them. If it goes further, though, I begin discussing the scope and sequence of the literature texts, and of my favorite stories from ancient literature. (Did you know the story of Joseph in Potiphar’s house appears in the ancient Egyptian literature?!)

Or I tell them of some of the difficulties, such as translating haiku into English, which really does not work. (English poems that purport to be haiku are almost always not, actually.)

Or I explain the topics of the magazines I wrote for: child raising, education, etc.

Folks usually become overwhelmed, long before I have finished my speech, or else I end up having a great discussion with someone who actually knows this stuff and cares, which is always fun.

But, heaven help them, if they ask, “Do you work?”

I’m toying with the idea of saying, “No. I’m a big fat zero. The only thing I’ve ever accomplished is turning five illiterate humans into productive members of society.”

Just once, I’d like to see the response to that.

Will she be at home or does she work?

all women work

Woman working outside the home…

Never.

Ever.

Say this where I can hear it.

Nor type it where I can read it.

Or you will be corrected.

By me.

All women work.

Do not chuckle condescendingly and say, “It’s just a way of speaking.”

Lying is a way of speaking, and we correct it.

It is a way of thinking. No, actually, it is a symptom of not thinking.

Or, may I stay at home and not work?

Heh heh, it’s just a way of speaking. Heh heh.

Oh. Have a little headache?

Between the eyes?

So sorry. In a way of speaking.

Heh heh.

God’s Dishonor Roll

English: Abram's Counsel to Sarai, c. 1896-190...

Abram's Counsel to Sarai by James Jacques Joseph Tissot

I wonder how many have never done anything wrong.

How many could stand before God and say, “I have never made a mistake. I have never failed at anything.”?

The truth is that we’ve all made mistakes, experienced failure, sinned, falling short of God‘s plan, God’s intention for us.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

“Failure” is the one label we don’t want.

We fear failure.

If I fail what will happen to me?

What will other people think? Will I be rejected? Will anybody love me?

Will God send me to hell?

The fear of failure is universal, causing enormous amounts of stress.

Students fear failing a class.

Parents fear failing their children.

Others fear failing the Lord, failing in Christianity, failing to live sinless lives.

If these examples describe your feelings, I have good news for you: You are in good company.

Some of the Bible’s greatest men and women of faith were failures. If God had a dishonor roll, it would include MANY well-known Believers.

For instance, in the book of Genesis, Abraham, the man of faith, lied to government officials, two times, about his relationship with Sarah. Both times, he introduced her as his sister instead of his wife, because he was afraid that he would be killed because of being married to such a beautiful woman.

Consequently, poor Sarah was taken into a harem each time and each time, God had to rescue her from potential adultery.

After the second time, God could have said, “ABRAHAM, YOU ARE FIRED!

“You obviously don’t trust me to save you. You obviously feel that lying to people is necessary to save your own skin.

“I cannot work with you anymore.”

But God forgave Abraham both times. And the Lord went on to do amazing things in his life. Even though Abraham showed the fear of unbelief instead of faith on these occasions, God still made a covenant with Abraham, and Abraham learned to believe God. God accounted this faith as if Abraham were righteous.

And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. James 2:23

More tomorrow.

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Image via Wikipedia

Dry, starched shirts, ready to iron!

The Gift of Laundry

Laundry symbol hand wash

Hand wash only!

Did a bit of pioneering work today, and it was a fun challenge.

Basically, I had to haul water in a bucket to do laundry.

Oh, it’s not like it sounds. We have city water piped into our house and a faucet near the washing machine. But the hot water tank that feeds the washer goes out, now and then, and we find ourselves without hot water, back there, at inopportune times.

If we want to shower—our bath being connected to the laundry—we can use the guest bath, which has its own hot water. In fact, that bathroom is the only hot water source in the house during down times like this.

If I want to wash dishes, since the kitchen also is connected to the laundry, and I cannot use the dishwasher, I must haul hot water, from that other bathroom, to fill the sink and do dishes by hand. I was using a one-gallon pitcher. It takes about 2 ½ gallons to fill the sink nicely. It’s okay to rinse in cold.

However, I wanted to do laundry, so I found an old plastic scrub bucket that holds 2 gallons. That cut the trips in half. At first I thought of skipping laundry until tomorrow, but later, I asked myself, “How hard can it be? Millions of women have hauled water to do laundry, and that was uphill wearing long skirts.” I could do this.

The first trip across the house with a full bucket of hot water taught me balance. Heh heh.

When I dumped it into the washer, it all trickled to the space under the perforated drum that holds the clothing. What little bit that rose above that level quickly soaked into the clothes in the washer. It would take a lot more water.

I made about 8 trips with that bucket, across tiled and laminated floors. It was hard to feel patient and joyful, until I would remember those pioneer women and their long skirts, meandering trails, rocky paths strewn with slick leaves. Most of them were hauling cold water, too, that would need heating, next.

At least mine was already hot. At least mine was across a level surface. At least I did not have to wear all those billows of clothing.

After hauling the water I was in no hurry to drain it away. So I left the lid up and soaked that clothing for a while. I’m glad I did, for I got to thinking: That water was still hot and not dirty. If I could wring out the clothes in it, I could reuse it for the next load.

A familiar-looking basket of wrung-out clothing soon stood by my feet, and the next load was chugging along before I realized I was doing laundry the way my grandmother did before she got her wringer. I watched her when I was tiny, but I’d almost lost the memory.

Eventually I washed three small loads of clothing in one small load of hot water. What would have been sixty gallons of soapy water became only 20 or so.

I saw something, during this trial, namely, why my grandmother reused the water during laundry times. Even after all her laundry was done, there were still flower beds to water, and a porch to scrub.

She remembered hauling it up hill.

Read a great story that complements this idea, here.

______________________________

Image via wikipedia

Weekly Photo Challenge: Waiting

waiting

Waiting

These men are waiting. They may look like they are quite active, but I know them. One is 80 years old, and the other is not far behind him. They devote their days to making improvements they will never enjoy, such as planting trees on Arbor Day.

They do enjoy much of it, though. The ability to move about and act like men, still, free of huge medical problems, they enjoy. The camaraderie with other men who care about the future of our grandkids and great-grandkids, they enjoy. Rising early and dressing for work, like the good old days, they enjoy. They are real men, more so than some of their self-professed more virile co-males on this planet, who still lie abed at 10:30 a.m.

They gave up waiting for them.

The tree around which they just finished firming the soil is also waiting. The soil, the men discovered, was moist only down to about 8 inches.  On this overcast morning, everyone is hoping for rain. It does fall, 1/2 inch that night and 4 inches the next couple of days. In tree-years, it did not have to wait long.

The tree also is waiting for spring, to show off its promised beauty and to grow into the new soil around its roots. It is waiting to increase enough in size to shade the walking trail just beyond it. And someday, it will have waited until, like the men who planted it, the end will be very near and it will be ready for a position on a truck similar to the one parked in the background.

That truck also is waiting for someone who lives nearby to get going on this mid-morning. Is he lazy? Does he have the day off? Is he bound by a schedule that will not allow him to deliver his load until later?

Or is the driver also waiting? Did his wife sleep in and forget to make breakfast? Is he waiting for an important phone call before he begins his day? Is he waiting for the dryer to stop tumbling so he can finish dressing?

How inter-connected we all are! How much one slow one can affect it all!