There it sat. A pile of fabric. A large pile of fabric, mind you. Dark chocolate wool. Thick and beautiful, I bought it to make a trench coat for one of our sons. Moving from the south to a northern climate makes coats a necessity. Wool keeps us warm.
So I made the purchase and set this luxurious cloth on the cutting table. And there it sat. For several weeks. Waiting.
Now, I don't mind buying fabric ahead of need, and letting it sit on the shelf awaiting inspiration. Since most of my design work takes place in the early morning hours when stores are closed, having fabric on hand is convenient for me.
But this fabric had a purpose, a plan, and a recipient who was also waiting.
One day, as I heard this fabric calling to me, I wondered why I hadn't started the project. I stared and analyzed, then realized that it just overwhelmed me. Too much of a project. Not enough time. And I like projects which are accomplished quickly. But this project included fashion fabric, lining, outside pockets, inside pockets, interfacing - they all added up to a long-term commitment.
As I tackled this project head-on, my mind pondered: in the future, how should I handle projects that overwhelm me? I mulled on this for several days before coming to some good solutions. Let me share them with you.
First: Divide a large project into smaller steps. I have to list them out, making them as small as needed so they seem less intimidating. Following my trench coat example, let me share the steps with you:
1. Cut out pattern
2. Hi-lite the lines for the size I need (for a multi-size pattern)
3. Lay out pattern on fabric, pin
4. Cut out
5. Mark darts, pocket placement, button placement, etc.
6. Cut out lining
7. Cut out interfacing
8. Gather supplies: thread, shoulder pads, buttons, etc.
I could have listed the steps differently, combining two steps together (cut out pattern and hi-lite cutting lines). However, since I was in an "overwhelmed" state of mind, the smaller steps were more productive: I could make more check marks, give myself more gold stars. Seemingly, accomplish more tasks with smaller steps.
Second: Set a goal of working on this project every day. Just do something. Going further, my objective became to work on it at least fifteen minutes each day. Many times, once I started, I worked on it longer as my schedule allowed.
Sometimes we can substitute working on our project instead of doing another activity. If some evenings include watching television or a video after dinner, perhaps you could work on your project instead. Or find fifteen minutes while waiting for something else to begin: leaving for an appointment, waiting for Spouse to come home, while fixing dinner.
Third: Set deadlines for specific accomplishments. This can begin with a start date on which you want to actually commence working on this project. You can also set a completion date to have it finished. For me, when I'm feeling very overwhelmed, I even set dates for the smaller steps: have the fashion fabric and lining cut out by the end of this week. Sew the bound buttonholes before the weekend's over. Somehow, setting a deadline seems to spur me on to finish the task.
When we look in the Bible, we find references to "take courage," "fear not," or "the one who is willing to begin . . ." Sometimes it's a situation of mind over matter. Our mind is allowing the enormity of the task to make us procrastinate. So, when we feel that urge to dawdle, let's get out a piece of paper and make a list, figure out when we can fit it into our schedule, and write dates to start and finish. This will help us tackle those seemingly impossible jobs.
As Mary Poppins declared, "Once begun is half done!"
Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, take courage, fear not. Isaiah 35:3-4
March 12, 2010
Kym Wright has been sewing since she was 4 years old. The wee hours of the morning find her beginning new projects which she hopes to complete quickly!