My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #405: Time After Time

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 07-19-2011 01:08 PM 1344 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 404: Living is Better That Just Going Through Life Part 405 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 406: Some Hope For Selling Our Woodwork Items »

I spent the bulk of the day yesterday printing out patterns and sanding 8.5” x 11” rounded rectangles of wood. It doesn’t sound like enough to fill the day, but it certainly was. Once again I played the role of ‘captain underestimation,’ grossly underestimating the amount of time it will take me to do things.

(I never have been that good at math. There is something so impersonal about numbers that they just don’t hold my interest. They are an evil necessity of life that I only deal with when I absolutely have to.)

But the good news is that when I planned the time frame for me doing this job and getting things out the door, I doubled the time that I estimated I could complete things in and came out somewhat ahead.

And who said I am not learning? :D

I tell you this with tongue in cheek because I am kind of chuckling at my own inability to accurately estimate how long it will take me to do something.

It isn’t that I couldn’t do it in the stated amount of time. I just find myself picking at things to make them the best that I can and we all know that doing things that way can take forever.

Take for instance this final step of sanding the ponds. I had 72 rounded rectangles made of 1/8” good grade plywood. All I needed to do was smooth them out and give them a final sanding. After all, whenever I purchased a wood kit of any kind, I expected that I would do my own sanding.

But as I started to sand, I got involved. My mind wandered (as it often does when I do repetitive tasks such as this) and I began thinking how this pile of wood that I was sanding here on my deck in Nova Scotia would wind up being shipped all over the world perhaps and be painted and made into family heirlooms and treasures that would possible be passed down from generation to generation. Some of these sets may be around longer than I would. In thinking about it, it really was kind of mind boggling. It boggled my mind anyway.

Now you are all probably laughing, but sometimes I think like that. In any case, it made me want to do a better job and I found I was spending more and more time on each piece, making sure it was satin smooth. Before I knew it, I had a pile of beautiful rectangles that are pretty much ready to paint without sanding at all. It took a bit longer than anticipated, but they were beautiful for what they were. And I was proud of them.

I suppose I will never be a good business person.

I hear stories from people who work at places like Wal-Mart and one story in particular stuck in my mind. A neighbor or mine who lives in Digby got a job at the neighborhood Wal-Mart. He used to sing opera and he was a very pleasant man and always liked to stop and chat about nothing in particular. He has a family though and times are hard and he needed to have a steady income, so he got the job there.

In speaking with him one day, he told of how at work he was required to unpack ‘x’ amount of items in ‘y’ amount of time or he would get written up. The pace required of him was not one of leisure, but one of purpose and it could be quite unforgiving. They had everything timed down to the second as to how long it should take to display each item. The employees were required to work within those perimeters. I was appalled.

I could understand how management wouldn’t want one lollygagging and socializing, but keeping a pace such as he described with the consequences that he mentioned seemed to me unreasonable. I have talked to others who worked there too and they concur with what he said. I wonder what our world is coming to.

Now when I am in a store such as that and see someone stocking the shelves and need to know where to find something, I hate to even ask where the item would be. I hate to break the frantic rhythm of them unpacking their boxes and jeopardize their position because I don’t know where to find the cotton balls. It certainly makes me think.

I don’t know why those thoughts came to me while sanding the ponds. I suspect because I knew that if I were working at Wally World as a sander, I would be canned before the day would be out. Perhaps I am not the most efficient person around, but at least I can look at those future heirlooms and feel a sense of pride in knowing that I offered a good product.

I finished printing last night and today I am ready to package the sets. I assembled one package just to see what the set looked like and it looked complete, professional and like something that I am proud to put my name on. I know everything in that set is quality because I am the one who made it all and put everything together. I know in the future if I am to really be successful that I will need to relinquish some of these tasks to others, but I will pick and choose very carefully so that I am sure that the quality is still there. But for this batch, I know it is the case.

So for today I will be packing up the sets and finding a box for shipping. I see them going out tomorrow, which is well ahead of the August 8 deadline. I spent the remainder of the night researching the next projects that I have in mind and going through 10,000 fonts for something that I have in mind. But that is for the next adventure.

The days fill up quickly. And even though things may take a bit more time than we anticipate, the important thing to me is at the end of the day I can feel good about what I accomplished. i would rather produce one excellent thing than ten that are inferior. That is just the way I am.

Have a great productive day.

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

11 comments so far

View patron's profile


13611 posts in 3396 days

#1 posted 07-19-2011 02:16 PM

good morning sheila

it is right that you don’t secumb
to ‘quick and dirty’

just because others do

in the end we are responsible for ourselves
somebody has to care

as far as cotton balls go

i’m still looking for them too (lol)

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2975 days

#2 posted 07-19-2011 02:32 PM

I find that wadding up a tissue works just as well sometimes. ;)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View huntter2022's profile


275 posts in 2671 days

#3 posted 07-19-2011 02:48 PM

I’m always under estimating my time .

But then I don’t figure in that so and so stopped by and stopped to do something for them real quick sometime them little jobs take more time to set up and get the tools out for it and clean up then the actually job.

Get a talking and next thing you know the time has flew out the window .

Well I need to get in gear meeting up with step-son and his friend to show them how to set a bathtub and toilet . Sewer is in I know , but not sure they ran and water yet so we will deal with that then . Was told they have all the tools they need we will see .

-- David ; "BE SAFE BE HAPPY" Brockport , NY

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3246 days

#4 posted 07-19-2011 03:22 PM

I am on vacation this week…Which means I spend 60 hours in the shop,

I am behind and will not catch up. Luckily I always schedule things in

away that allows me to fall behind and still deliver on time….If that makes

any sense.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2975 days

#5 posted 07-19-2011 03:40 PM

Yep, Bob! It makes perfect sense to me! (Don’t let that scare you!) I hope you have a great week!

Sheila :D

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View William's profile


9950 posts in 2898 days

#6 posted 07-19-2011 05:24 PM

First, I have to touch on the topic about the guy stocking the shelves at Wal-Mart. I have never worked at that store in particular, but when I was young, I did stock groceries nightly at a grocery store. Your story doesn’t tell the half of that depressing type of job. What it does not tell is what happens if you become proficient at meeting you quota. They raise the quota. Then when you meet that quota, they raise it by requiring you to do the same in less time so they can cut your hours and save money.
Next is the math. This doesn’t have anything to do with math as it relates to estimating time, but I love math. It has always came naturally to me. My kids hate me when it comes to math. At some point these days, kids come to the conclusion, “why in the world do I need to know this?” They don’t tell me that because they know I can answer that. I’m quick to give them examples of real world examples. Take equations for example. When figuing CCs or cubic inches in engines (remember my mechanic days), especially performance engines, it’s easy to do using equations.
Now to the extimating time. I don’t think any of us do that well. Most people always think it’ll take them less time than it really does to accomplish a certain task. I often do the opposites and figure way too much time for a particular task and then have to find something else to fill the time so I don’t get bored and restless. If I have nothing to do to keep my hands busy, I get way too anxious, nervous, and basically start going crazy.


View BilltheDiver's profile


257 posts in 2941 days

#7 posted 07-19-2011 06:06 PM

Sheila..We are in the same boat when it comes to estimating time. It’s a standing joke at my house. If my wife asks how long something will take I always answer “a couple of hours”. She knows from experience that that can mean anywhere from 120 minutes to a couple of weekends.

I think it’s because it is so rare that we get to start on something and work it through without interruption. If not for the interruptions (some self inflicted), we are probably not too far off in the estimates.

-- "Measure twice, cut once, count fingers"

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2975 days

#8 posted 07-19-2011 06:21 PM

Yep, Bill – Keith laughs at me too when I announce a time frame for doing something. He says “you and your pink cloud!” and just smiles and shakes his head! LOL I was really taken aback today when I was packing up the pond sets to be shipped and he said he was ‘proud’ of me for getting the order done so quickly. I thought he was kidding me but he was serious. It really made me feel good!

Hang in there – maybe one day you will surprise your wife too and actually finish something when you said you would! It will be nice to see the amazement on her face! (Just don’t let her see your own look of amazement on your face!) :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3092 days

#9 posted 07-19-2011 07:45 PM

Well set deadlines, comfortably beaten. Sounds like good planning to me, Sheila. Well done. If you ever feel pushed again I’d look back to how you managed this project for pointers.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2975 days

#10 posted 07-19-2011 10:06 PM

Yeppers, Martyn! I surprised everyone (especially myself) with pulling this one off so smoothly. I will try to remember all that I did ‘right’ this time! ;)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 2977 days

#11 posted 07-20-2011 03:07 AM

The way I see it, all of you are really professionals in your work taking a look on you timepieces. I am on a different world, woodworking is just a hobby… But the way I see, woodworks get all of my free time making it difficult to set targets everytime.

Thanks to all of you… your inspiring words make me think it wood be easier.

-- Bert

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