Unrealistic Expectations

We started school yesterday. We did kind of a ‘soft launch,’ leaving the rigors of a full class load until we get a little closer to Labor Day. Beginning now with ‘school lite’ lets us get a start in on our math lessons which are much less flexible than our other subjects and it also let’s us get going with some historical biographies we’re working on as preparation for a couple scheduled field trips in September. In any case, we are on the road.

Much like any school in any location the world over, we started by going over expectations. For us, this began with our start time. With our kids at the ages they’re at, it’s much easier if we get everyone on roughly the same schedule. With one child who is an early riser and one who is much slower to get going (she likes to stay up late reading), I explained that school would start at 8am. Before the panic could really take hold of my sleepyhead who thought that timing seemed wildly unrealistic, we made a list of all the things that they needed to do to be ready for school — getting dressed, making beds, eating breakfast, etc. Then we agreed on a time for lights out at night to make sure our girl was ready when morning rolled around.

The other big first day topic was problem solving. Both kids started with almost the identical discussion on the topic in their math texts, so we put it up on our white board (which we got for a steal at a local office supply store).

IMG_0415(Don’t mind the giant pile of books — that’s just the tip of the iceberg of my life of learning and correcting for the next 9months or so)

I loved this little lesson as it really broke down how we solve problems — not just math problems, but all problems in life. Accompanied by good questions to ask while you’re in each step of the process, I am hoping to make some copies of these lists and put them in the front see-through pocket of their math binders to refer back to throughout the year. I also fully intend to make a copy for myself. So elegant in its simplicity, it reminds me that all the ‘insurmountable’ problems I face can be broken down into manageable components.

In fact, I realized that I apply the same approach to my knitting. I’ve written about it before in a slightly different light because by far the most common question I hear is, ‘How do you get so much done?’ In truth, I spend a lot of time knitting. Plain and simple. And because I spend a lot of time knitting, I’m probably pretty quick. I love the craft, too, and that certainly doesn’t hurt. This in itself does not create FOs, though. To really get across the finish line there has to be a plan otherwise I’d most likely just keep starting projects instead of ever finishing them. I have to understand the goal or time frame in which I’d like to finish, formulate a plan, and execute the plan. Just like my elementary aged kiddos are learning in their math lessons!

Sometimes – or more accurately ‘usually’ – that plan is pretty fast and loose for me, but with my latest project I’ve taken a slightly more regimented approach. With school starting and a pair of socks for the  August Summer Sock KAL that aren’t going to knit themselves, I found the need for a more structured, goal-oriented schedule to push myself a little on my current lace shawl. With that in mind, I’ve been sketching out daily goals for the 16 repeats of the main section.

IMG_0416As you can see, my planner lacks a whole lot of organization and detail. Since I’d been expecting to have a couple more weeks before we started school, I’m not quite situated on that front yet, but I’ll get there before too long. After all, for me this year is all about having better monthly plans.  In any case, at the bottom of each day of this week you’ll see ‘100D: 11-12’ or ‘100D: 14’ — those are my project goals for the day. Yesterday I slated myself to finish up repeats 11 & 12, today 12-13. I lost one day to heat & bathroom repairs, hence the original pink goals that have been crossed out. I’ve been missing by a couple rows each night as I battle some unfortunate sinus issues that have been knocking me out early and the very unpleasant reality that working with lace weight navy yarn after sundown is not as easy as it used to be, but I’ve been keeping it close.

Of course, with each repeat the shawl grows bigger…

IMG_0315The repeats above took much less time than those below.

IMG_0394If I had more sense, I’d adjust the plan accordingly, but I’m trying to push on — taking breaks with my August socks from time to time for sanity and good measure.

IMG_0413And every day I tick off at least one and a half repeats.

Although I’ll be knitting like the wind to hit that Friday finish date for this project, I’m not all that confident that it’s likely. I think by the end of the weekend is more realistic. Sometimes though, getting things finished in a timely manner is all about sticking to a plan that seems a little unrealistic. Implementing pre-planning and sheer determination is probably the most effective method for finishing any project — in knitting or in everyday life. When all is said and done, whether a goal is unrealistic or not is often (but not always) just a function of perspective, attitude, and execution. If my daughter can wake up and be ready to go on day two of school 30minutes ahead of time as is the case right now, I can probably finish this shawl by Friday. With this challenge on my mind, there is only one thing left to do: Get knitting!

4 responses to “Unrealistic Expectations

  1. That shawl is gorgeous! I’m going to have to push myself to spend more time knitting. I have 3 cowls to get done by Christmas, among various other things!

    • Thank you! I’m very happy with how it’s turning out and how enjoyable it’s been to knit. I rarely set rigid goals for myself and usually just randomly give knitted gifts (rarely for proper holidays). Generally goals and timelines are always on my mind though – it lets me finish things up and keeps me excited for the next project.

  2. I like the fact that you are setting goals and finishing projects. I don’t think it would work for me, however, because I knit to relax and if I set time limits on my projects, it defeats my purpose of knitting. I would use it though in situations when I do have a deadline, like a birthday or Christmas gifts. Thanks for sharing!

    • This actually is a gift otherwise I would never set such a rigid schedule. I have continuous goals and timelines always in my head just because it keeps me motivated and finishing – the lure of the next project is always strong with me! And believe it or not, it doesn’t really feel stressful – it’s like a game to hit my goal. What happens if I don’t make it? I’ll finish a little late. It’s knitting, if I don’t finish “on-time” the world won’t end. 🙂

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