One of the great gifts of Improvised Life has been correspondence with readers, who are a mightily varied, creative and surprising group of people. Recently, Michigan-based engineer Kevin Neff, responding to the contest/challenge we published a few weeks ago,  has been advising me on how to rig my bed to stop it from transmitting the mysterious vibration that comes through the floor. In addition to the practical solutions — making or buying concrete bed legs of a certain, carefully-calculated weight, and sandwiching them with visco-elastic Sorbothane —he offered an excellent strategy for getting project done.

I was thinking about your message the other day, when you mentioned some of these complications and implied regret that you could not immediately begin work. It reminds me so much of my own life with small children, physician-wife, church, house, friends, chickens, and dog. It seems like almost everything prevents me from doing my various side projects.

What I’ve found works is to do something, however small, daily. If I wait for half a day to work on something, there’s only a few Saturday afternoons in the whole year that are eligible. And worse, if I take a surprise vacation day I find that I’m often unable to make dramatic progress because of small logistical issues, like the wrong kind of screws, etc. Even thinking about a project every day may help but I find that can be frustrating. At least, that’s the theory. I admit I still don’t manage to make progress every day but for me, it’s more effective than the alternatives.

Kevin’s advice has been especially useful at this rather intense, emotional time of BIG LIFE and low energy. Every day, I’ve done a little work toward implementing Kevin’s plan (which involves a number of steps): researched, measured, strategized, even walked over to the lumber yard to see about products and delivery…

Stay-tuned for the next steps, which may involve mixing concrete….


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2 replies on “An Engineer’s Strategy for Getting Things Done

  1. I recommend the book “The Kaizen Way” by Maurer.

  2. (I just read Amazon’s description of this book and it makes me cringe. I am sure it is very effective for weightloss, etc., but I use this practice for all kinds of projects. Don’t be put off by the Amazon blurb. This is a very helpful book.)

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