Where Logic Meets Love

Why I Don't Do Projects: The Answer Revealed!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

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Why I Don't Do Projects: The Answer Revealed! | Faith Permeating Life
I posted last week about how I was frustrated that I wasn't making my personal projects a priority amidst all the other things I needed to do and wanted to do. While lack of time is certainly part of the explanation -- I'm at work 8 hours, plus 3 hours total commuting each workday -- this didn't seem like a complete enough explanation. After all, there are days where I find myself just wasting time online or looking for things to do, yet I don't start on those projects. Why not?

I started thinking about this fact: When Mike is gone for the evening, I get a LOT accomplished. I embark on large-scale projects that I wouldn't normally do, like cleaning the kitchen. In fact, I was starting to worry, now that he's unemployed, that I wouldn't have these uninterrupted blocks of time anymore. So I asked myself, why does that matter? Why does he have to be gone for me to do anything?

(I should probably note at this point that this is not intended as a criticism of my husband, but rather a look at my own less-than-ideal reactions to being home with him.)

I came up with three reasons:
  1. When Mike is gone, I have the ability to surprise him. That is part of the reason I do things like clean the kitchen. I am thinking, "Won't it be a nice surprise for him to get home and find the kitchen clean?" When he's home, if I'm cleaning the kitchen and he's sitting on the computer playing video games, I'm more likely to think, "Why am I doing this work while he's just sitting there?" This also opens up the possibility that he would comment on how I'm doing something, which would make me really annoyed. Not that he would, I'm just overly sensitive to the possibility.
  2. Mike makes a lot of noise when he is in a good mood. He sings, whistles, hums, laughs, and wants to tell me all the great ideas that go through his head every 2 minutes. This caused a big problem on the days I was working from home last summer because it made it very difficult to accomplish anything. Since we live in a small apartment, there's not really anywhere I can go that's separate from him, plus he gets upset if I shut myself in the bedroom to get away from him. So when I'm home from work, it's easier to do mindless things than try to work on something that requires concentration. OK, maybe this one is on him. But I can't really begrudge him being cheerful or wanting to be with me, right?
  3. Mike and I spend a lot of evenings doing our own thing on our separate computers. I always feel vaguely guilty about this, like we should be making the most of the time we have together before we have kids, so when he suggests doing something (playing a board game, watching a movie, etc.) I feel compelled to drop what I'm doing to spend time with him. He tends to be spontaneous about these things and sometimes gets annoyed if I agree to do something but don't want to do it immediately, because he is in the mood to do it immediately. I realized that the upshot of this pattern was that I was avoiding involving myself in anything that couldn't be wrapped up within 10 minutes. Starting up something that involved spreading out papers on the floor or otherwise settling in for a solid period of work would make me feel like I was isolating myself from him and rejecting in advance any suggestions he might have for things we could do together.
I talked to Mike about this, and he said that now that he's not working on the weekends -- and is only seeking jobs that don't require working on the weekends -- we can do our individual pursuits during the week and spend time together on the weekends. Several of the projects I want to work on involve having headphones on (transcribing, video editing), which normally makes me feel like I'm shutting him out, but now that I think about it, this might block out the singing and make Mike less likely to interrupt me with random thoughts unless it's something important. (I can hope, anyway!) As for cleaning, we've got a date to clean the bathroom this weekend, and I don't think my life will be that deprived if I no longer have sudden urges to clean the kitchen. Besides, Mike's home all day by himself now -- maybe he will want to surprise me with regular cleaning sprees (hint, hint) ;)

Has anyone else run into this problem of sacrificing actual accomplishment time for potential partner time? Do you have any other re-framing suggestions?

3 comments:

  1. I haven't even gotten through your post yet and I had to run to the comments to say YES!!!!!

    In my case, "Why does he have to be gone for me to do anything?" is because he is distracting!!! I'd much rather be hanging out with him, or chatting about something random (which after awhile becomes him telling me that I need to find a girlfriend or call my mom, haha), versus cleaning out my closet or something else.

    DH's schedule is that he works 2 days 12-8, the other 3 days, 9-5. On his late nights, I do a lot of random things, like clean every part of the fridge, or reorganize a cabinet. Would he know to do this? Probably not. Nothing against him, but it just doesn't occur.

    As for this: When he's home, if I'm cleaning the kitchen and he's sitting on the computer playing video games, I'm more likely to think, "Why am I doing this work while he's just sitting there?"
    OH YES. I get VERY resentful when I have CHOSEN to do something chore-related and he's chosen to do something fun. It makes zero sense, as we've CHOSEN our activities. It's not like he told me to clean the bathroom and he goes off to do whatever. I picked it! Why get resentful? LOL It's probably because he doesn't see a need to do as many chores as I do. I see dirt that he doesn't think exists. I find things to fix/take care of/etc that don't bother him. He has a much higher threshold for dirt and disorder than I do.

    As I read #2, I think I'm more like Mike at our house! haha And yes, very hard to work from home when my DH is home. He can't work from home, ever, so this winter, when we had tons of snow days, he either used vacation time or was paid without using PTO. Not me. He didn't get that my work still goes on...

    We've had the same struggles with "are you avoiding me?" or "why do you want to be on the computer, I'm in here watching TV?" It's not that we're avoiding each other, it's that the other things kinda took over...

    OK, so no real suggestions, but yeah, I totally thought I was reading a glimpse of my house life! It is hard.

    Oh, wait, I do have one. Can you make a list of your projects and sort them by length of time? Then do the quick ones when Mike is home, and the longer ones either on the weekends or when he's out? I've had to do that, not in terms of balancing time w/ DH, just more of not stressing out about not getting things done. If I do small things--dishes, laundry, quick cleaning jobs--on weeknights, then I can do bigger things or fun projects on the weekends.

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  2. @Rabbit
    I have to say that it cracks me up that half of your comments start, "I haven't read all your post yet, but..." :)

    It makes zero sense, as we've CHOSEN our activities. It's not like he told me to clean the bathroom and he goes off to do whatever. I picked it! Why get resentful?
    LOL Exactly!! Especially because in my case, there are a lot of times when he is doing something helpful, like doing the dishes, while I'm just sitting on my computer, so it's not like I'm feeling resentful that he never does anything. Maybe I've been taught to be overly sensitive to any situation where I, the wife, am doing housework while my husband is relaxing.

    Can you make a list of your projects and sort them by length of time? Then do the quick ones when Mike is home, and the longer ones either on the weekends or when he's out?
    There may be some projects I can make a time estimate for. The problem is that most of my projects are long-term projects that are going to take me a few months, so I really just need the occasional solid block of time to work on them. I guess I could figure out what the ideal block of time would be. Weekends are "our time together" now that he's not working on the weekends, so the goal is to confine my personal projects to the weeknights. But maybe if I have a better sense of how much time I want to work on something, I could request an hour or two of uninterrupted personal project time on the weekend. Hm. I'll think about it, thanks :)

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  3. Ugh, I wrote something this AM and I think there was a glitch because I had a weird message annnnd, my comment is not showing up.

    OK, so, yes I noticed I do that a lot too! Just here though, haha. :)

    Good luck with figuring everything out.

    I have to say that time management was a HUGE thing to master when I got married. Almost 4 yrs later, I'm still figuring it out. It's hard, to go from being single and doing whatever you want (and even if one lives at home or with roommates, it's different than with a spouse), to doing things with a spouse. I can't explain it fully...but I'm sure you know where I'm going. I'm always asking DH "is it OK if I go upstairs and do XYZ?" or "I'm going to go on the computer to email so & so, I'll be back soon." Like I'm offending him if I'm not RIGHT.NEXT to him every moment we're home together. Just never want him to feel like I'm avoiding him.

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