August 09, 2011

The Last Word on When It’s Okay Not to Finish

I’ve written about not finishing something when you lose interest in it and when it has little or no payoff. I thought I covered all the reasons for letting go of a project.  Then I experienced my own challenge.

As I mention in my book, I love projects.  I don’t always like finishing what I start, but I have been better about taking on fewer projects and creating deadlines for completing or discarding them. 

I bought a really ugly cabinet (don't take my word for it, see the picture) for my kitchen,  because it had great potential (the favored justification of the hobbyist).  I took the doors and hardware off, primed it and have been considering paint colors.  Last week I gave the doors one more coat of primer because I had sanded rough spots and there was some bare wood showing. 

After the doors had dried, I stacked them to get them off the floor and came back the next day.  When I picked up the top door, it pulled the paint off the other.  I really wanted to get this done now so I can work on another project, but I have accepted the reality that there is no point in trying to finish while the weather is still so humid. 
I have given myself permission to stop working on the cabinet.  I have all the tools I need and I can pick up again in September, once the weather turns.  Now I can turn my attention to the next project and not feel distracted by multiple tasks.

I am delaying work because it doesn’t make sense to continue it now.  I call this behavior “productive procrastination;” putting off a task to work on another one that is equally important.  Weigh the consequences for not finishing something and decide whether you want to continue or postpone the work.

What have you stopped working on that you can go back to at a better time? Click on Post a Comment, below, and tell us.

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