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Investments don't always = money

November 10th, 2007 at 03:21 pm

A few months ago, I started a project for the Guild-- I needed to fill up some gaps in my courseload, and so asked to do an independent assignment. It took a while to find anyone to agree to this: most of the Senior Crafters have heavy workloads of their own, so supervising a stray apprentice is really not something they have time to do.

When I finally found someone to take me on, I was thrilled -- I needed the project to fill out my course hours and keep my Guild Aid. I decided on an Illuminated Manuscript...a stretch for my abilities, but well within my general interest.

But between the responsibilities of the Guild, the Forum and the Souk, plus my total lack of organization, I had put off the work until it was very nearly overdue.

So I pulled a few all-nighters, and fueled by coffee, carryout, panic attacks and sheer blind luck, managed to finish the first part of the assignment.

It was the biggest project of the type I had ever done, and I realized that by taking on such a big job, it gave me tons of practice and helped my skills improve.

But I still had to finish the second part: translation. Still, my old habits and workload hadn't changed, so it was a long stretch of procrastination before I touched the assignment again.

And this time, I hated it.

After so long, I could see the flaws in the illustration, and the places where a little more skill would have been really useful. I could barely even look at it, I hated it so much.

And on top of that, I still had the translation! So all of this took a few more espresso-powered nights.

So when I finished, I was totally burned out: a week of interrupted sleep, piles of laundry, money $$ on fast-food, and an overall feeling of being dragged through 10 miles of country roads.

A final look at the project made me feel annoyed: the work was ok, but could have been better, if I'd taken more time to get things done.

But I knew that I didn't really have the time...or did I?

Maybe the hour on Sundays I spent surfing the internet could have been spent practicing my illuminating/translating skills. Even a little bit of effort in these areas would have eventually given me a high enough skill to do the big jobs.

It reminded me about the discussions we have about money: how the few dollars saved by packing lunches, or using coupons helped build a fund large enough to cover the car repair, or the furnace malfunction.

It's easy to think of investment when it comes to tangible things: we can see the money in the coin jar or the bank balance at the end of the month.

But it's a little more abstract to think about the time we spend and where we spend it. I think about the manuscript I did, and I realize that even 20 minutes a day (which I waste just looking for socks in the morning) could improve my situation, in the same way that skipping the daily Starbucks could improve my wallet.

So I'm rethinking how I spend my time -- realizing that little steps do add up!!!

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