Friday, July 18, 2008

Not finished, or just never started

It is the job that is never started that takes longest to finish.

- J. R. R. Tolkien

I saw this quote the other day in my travels around the internet and I haven’t gotten it out of my head since. It’s one of those statements that beg to be refuted but it can’t be done because every loophole is stitched up tight. You can try this with your own not finished project or projects to see if you get different results but I think you will eventually admit that there is no rebuttal.

So how and why do we have these things that we never get finished so we are forced to face the fact that they’re undone and becoming a drag (or an embarrassment)? Jamie at How Not to Write wrote yesterday about the Maybe Flowers that get in the way of writing projects. Maybes can get in the way of any project really. They are one of the ways we keep our selves from starting something that we sooner or later will be forced to admit isn’t finished, and it’s a drag that it isn’t finished.

Maybes, while hard to overcome because they make us look responsible, are not the only way to not start a project we need to finish and move past. Some other ways to never start are related to time, priority values, ordering the pending work (what precedes what and what goes next), cost and budgeting, and lack of skills, tools or information all get a fair share of blame for never starting the not finished project. Many of these excuses are hard to overcome because there is a tiny nugget of fact or truth behind them, but we give it way more power that it is due. The result is that we get to keep from sticking our necks out and taking a risk to get something we want to do (or at least try) started and therefore finished.

My list

So what’s on my list of things not done that I haven’t yet started, or have avoided starting, or keep prioritizing to start later? And how many of them are a burden that I would like to get over with?

These are in no particular order because prioritizing them is a core issue to them being on the list of things not finished that have never been started.

1) Backing up my files. I am starting to worry about losing my photos and my writing portfolio among other important files on my PC.

2) Moving my blog to WP with my own domain and hosting. This is a minor issue at the moment. It will wait until more pressing projects get taken care of.

3) Getting more freelance work. This is in the upper middle. Not as worrisome as number one for the present but more important than or maybe equally as important as number two.

4) Selling three personal items this month. This would be nice and the discretionary cash to invest in my blog or business or equipment would be welcome but I don’t have to stop everything to do this first.

5) Getting better business cards. This is important as number three goes live so it could and maybe should wait. I make the ones I use to announce myself as a freelancer with the paper so they have my name, my email, the column title and the paper’s name. I use better card stock and a nice font type so they don’t look homemade at first blush.

6) Taking an online continuing education course. I have ambitions to be a first rate writer and there are some things I don’t know and some old ways of doing things that are probably hindering that ambition. Most weeks I send off a column thinking that there was probably a better way to present the material so it bothers me that I don’t get to this.

There are more but I feel safe sharing these. I think that many will resonate with most readers while a few readers may be shocked that any of these are on the list. But it is what it is.

How they got on the list

So why haven’t these things been started? For one thing it has been difficult to prioritize them as they are each important in their own right. But the priority issue aside each has its own stall pattern tactic.

1) Backing up the files: I need to weed out the junk files and leftovers from university that are intermingled into the folders. I need to acquire the storage media. I need to understand how it works. (Okay, today I bought a 4 GB flash but it’s still in the shrink wrap because a) I’m not organized and b) I’ve never used one.)

2) Moving my blog: I don’t know WP, or how to buy or find a domain, or how to move it. The switch is from free platform and hosting to pay in advance so I need to find the money. And I would have to think about design and that takes money.

3) More freelance work: I can’t seem to find out how to operate as an individual in my state (not under the paper’s umbrella of subcontractors). It takes some kind of business plan which is started but not finished. It takes money to start a work at home venture. I don’t know what licenses I need because the state’s website widget keeps sending me in a loop.

4) Selling stuff: I get wigged out about dealing with strangers and personal stuff and money. “Everybody” says to Craigslist them but there are some not upright citizens lurking around there.

5) Business cards: I can’t decide what to put on them or how they should look. I don’t want to do it over if/when I move my blog, and/or launch my freelancing, and/or design a logo. Nice (heavy) cards aren’t generally free.

6) Online course: This I have registered and signed into but I haven’t worked any of the modules. My initial enthusiasm got overcome by life events and getting back in the groove has been harder than I thought. I still think the course is something I need to make my column better so I should just do it.

So, you know the drill; what is your most irritating or embarrassing or barrier-creating project not finished because it has never been started? Share in comments. Please remember that people are sharing about sensitive areas so please respond thoughtfully.

The series:

1. Mommy tracking

1a. Exit strategy

2. Dreams

3. Net worth

4. Women and Self caretaking

5. Second-life Woman

6. Journals, Journaling and the Journey


chelle said...

Good idea .. I like how you broke it all down and worked through it. I may have to complete this exercise (after summer hehe)

Ryan said...

I just finished setting up a wordpress blog on my own domain, and I'm working now to start hosting it on my own server at home, thus eliminating the hosting cost. Let me know when you want to start working on moving your blog over and I'll gladly help you. Wordpress is pretty easy, and allows you to import all your posts and comments. There are also lots of free themes that you can use and tweak to your heart's content (and I can help with that too.)

Anyway, good luck with your list!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ryan said...

That's interesting that someone would copy-paste their sales pitch on this blog. I'm guessing they search for anything that says back storage on google and then go comment on it.

G's Cottage said...

@Ryan - Easily fixed. It's a hazard of having open commenting. But still better than finding my copy elsewhere on another Blogger blog which I then petition to get them taken down. Akismet doesn't work here.

G's Cottage said...

@Chelle - Moms of preschoolers have so much moving across their plates; I don't know how you would sort it out so be gentle with yourself. And these years don't last so enjoy them while you can.

@Ryan - Thanks for the offer. I will decide these things when I'm closer to actually doing the change. I know I will have title issues because of the punctuation I use in titles and WP codes it differently.

G's Cottage said...

It has come to my attention that my list of things "not finished, never started" does not include any writing projects. So I guess this post will have a part 2 even though I had not planned to do one.

jamiegrove said...

Hi Deb.

Thinking about moving hosting platforms can be a bit overwhelming. That said, I wouldn't think too much about the design at first. Getting onto the platform should come first.

Just take a look at Karen Swim's Site. She moved from blogger to WP all on her own and just went with the straight templates that come with WP. She'll worry about the design later.

Best of luck rocking through these tasks!! :)

Melissa Donovan said...

After my recent hard drive crash, I'd say back up your files, then reorganize them, and then back them up again. It only takes a few minutes to get your most important files on a 4GB thumb drive.

If your files won't fit, then you can get a larger backup drive for about $100. Mine holds 250GB and is well worth it if you think about it.

Feel free to email me if you need any help using the thumb drive. I've recently become quite a pro ;)

Melissa Donovan