Friday, June 01, 2007

the 95% mark

So, I'm not done with the painting project. But all of the painting is finished. I still need to replace all the woodwork I removed to do the painting and plaster, but everything else is done. In other words, the project is at the dreaded 95% Done phase. Uh oh. I've got a lot of projects around the house that are 95% done, and they tend to stay that way.

A few examples: before we moved in, in early 2001, we tore up the carpeting on the first floor and laid oak hardwood floors. That project was 95% done in a week, and the last 5% is still unfinished. All I need to do is stain and polyurethane the thresholds and nail them in place. Time so far? 6 years. I'm 95% done with the wiring in the basement; all I need to do is install a 3-way switch for the workshop lights, and it'll be done. Time so far? 3 years. I pulled up the carpet and refinished the hardwoods in the bedroom, too. Again, only the threshold remains unfinished (literally). Time so far? 2 years. I've got a few more of these almost-completed homeowner projects, and they're all languishing at the almost-but-not-quite-done phase. I'm not entirely sure why I do this. I think it has to do with the nature of home-repair projects. Once you start a big project, you're rendering part of your house unusable until it's done. So you've got strong incentive to make the house usable. Once you move the furniture out of the bedroom, you have to finish the floor before you can use the bedroom again. So you finish the floor and move the furniture back in, and suddenly there's no urgency to stain and finish the threshold. The house is functional, so you just don't worry about it. Or, worse, you finish the "important" part of the project and decide to step away from it for a while and take a little break before you finish it. And the little break can last years.

But I'm trying to be better about it. I'm trying to make it obvious that the project isn't finished yet, for one thing. The woodwork that needs to be reattached is in the way, for one thing; I didn't store it, I left some of it in the middle of the entryway, on top of the recycling. The rest of it is in the doorway to the studio. Every time I want to use the computer, I have to step around the bathroom door trim. I'll see if this system (I might call it Project Completion Thru Integrated Annoyance) serves me better than the previous system (which I'll call Not Getting Things Done, with apologies to David Allen).

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