Better? No, Just Different

Last night, after both my husband and I had put in long, busy day, he walked through the living room, spotted my “project” on the coffee table and stopped in his tracks.


“What is that?” He asked, pointing to the paper I spread out in front of me, which I am sure reminded him somewhat of what architectural plans used to look like. It was an large old calendar; I was using the back of the pages to spill everything I needed to do and/or remember out of my tired brain and onto a page. From that daunting list, I was spreading the items out among different days, with the goal of being able to visualize the upcoming week without feeling overwhelmed.

“It’s my week. I wanted all my lists in one pla–”

“You spend too much time planning. You could spend that time doing. Look at everything I do. I work a 40-hour week and I’m remodeling a house. I never have a list.”

We are very different people. You would think after 28 years this would be very evident and comments about it would no longer be necessary. Don’t get me started on not even getting to finish my statement. However, I was too tired to start a fight. Plus we had a steak dinner planned.

He went on his way. I looked at all my lists:

  • meals & lunches so he will have stuff to eat while i’m gone
  • shopping to do
  • bills to pay
  • housecleaning projects
  • what to pack
  • information I need
  • information he might need while I’m gone

How could all of that stuff fit in my head along with a character or two that wants attention as well? Wasn’t it easier for him to go to the 40-hour/week construction job where someone else had likely made the to-do list and handed it to him? But then, would I really want him making my to-do list for me?

I rolled up my planning page feeling less enthusiastic about visualizing my week. But attitude is everything, right? So I made myself look at the kernels of truth in what he said.

I am a magnificent planner. Do all those plans come to fruition? Nope. Follow-through is something I have had to work on my entire life. I’m getting better. Much better. I think it is because I am learning to weed out the insignificant. Or at least separate it from the significant. When I focus on what’s important, the rest will usually fall into place.

It is also true that he does not often make a list. Even now when he’s deep into the renovation of a sorely neglected house, he manages to know what he’s doing next, or where he left off on a particular part of the work, sans list. However, he does make an awful lot of trips between project and his personal hardware store (his garage). Thankfully there are only about four blocks between our house and his remodel, and Lowe’s is within a mile.

I am amazed. People are so different and we can learn so much from one another. I am perfectly happy with my lists and my plans, but isn’t it part of learning to at least consider there might be another way? And isn’t growth a product of moving outside our comfort zone and strengthening our weaknesses, instead of relying solely on what’s easy, yet could fail us in certain situations?

No way I’m giving up my planner now. I want to enjoy my vacation and not fret about what I forgot to do at home or what I didn’t bring. But maybe when I get home I’ll try something different. What, I don’t exactly know.

Maybe one of my characters will give me an idea.

What’s your favorite way to tackle a complicated or multi-faceted project?


2 responses to “Better? No, Just Different

  1. Hello Carolyn, My wife and I are the same. She plans and lists and I hate planning and listing. (Although with age I’ve learned the worst note beats my memory every time) I also have that follow through problem. Once I get to the point in a project where I know how to finish it and feel comfortable that I can, I lose interest. I have to force myself to finish it before I’ll allow me to start something else. Together, my wife and I make a good pair. For the vacation, her lists work well. For the emergency, my quick assessment and mental list works well. Both are important to the process.
    Thanks for the post


    • Thanks for reading. There is definitely much to be said in favor of teamwork. 🙂 Sounds like you and and your wife are a good team.

      I can’t tell you how many half-written manuscripts I have in my files because of that boredom thing, too. It was National Novel Writing month that pushed me through to my first completed novel manuscript. And once I experienced how good that felt, I became more inclined to push through the boredom stage.

      However, a fully polished draft is a whole different story…..


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