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Monday, January 7, 2013

Are you a starter, a plodder or a finisher?

What's your project work-style?

I'm a starter. My husband is a plodder. We are lacking a finisher in our house.

Starters get the ball rolling. Plodders toil on keeping the project going. And finishers come along and cap it all off with an ending. While we are all a blend of all three of these work-styles, most of us tend towards one style, more than the other two.

Starters are invaluable for their ability to have a vision and dive right in to any endeavor. Starters plan incessantly. They are the creative vision in a group, with their enthusiasm at it's peak in the early stages of any project.

Plodders are those who actually do the bulk of the work. Their special skill is the abiltity to keep on working, even when the job has become overwhelmingly dull to the starter. Without a plodder, endeavors would die just after inception.

Finishers are the ones who come along, have a vision for the end of a project, and just cap it all off. They like completion. Where a starter and a plodder like the project to continue, as it gives them continuity and a purpose with the work, the finisher has the unique ability to see that a finished job will provide the most satisfaction, and open the opportunity for future projects, thus beginning the cycle again.

If your household has only starters, then life and home tend to look like a bunch of piles of messes, many endeavors begun, but abandoned.

If you have only plodders, then nothing ever seems to get done. No one begins anything, so there is no work for the two plodders to continue on with.

And if your household has only finishers, there is nothing to put that finishing touch on.

For myself, as a starter, I love the beginning of anything. The new year is of particular delight for me, as my possibilities feel endless. I begin to drag about 1/3 into any project, and find completion extremely difficult. I'm enthusiastic, but lack discipline when it comes to the dull work, and have a strange desire NOT to finish any project.

My husband is usually drafted into the dull work around our house. He is especially gifted at handling the less interesting stuff. Because he can do this, we have managed some very large projects, like a large brick patio in our back yard. My enthusiasm would die an early death if it were not for his plodding ability.

Where we fall short is not having a finisher here. I tend to see projects as open-ended. I like that. It gives me freedom to continue creating and make changes with one endeavor. But I also realize that our lives and home would have an incomplete look in every corner, without a finisher in residence.

One of the areas I am putting effort into is developing some "finishing skills", envisioning the end. I need to find a reason to want something to come to completion, to find the motivation to do the work necessary to finalize a project. This part of the job is mind work. And I am finding that if I take the time to imagine life and home with a job totally done, then I can put in the work to see it through.

I do need some plodding skills, for the projects where the work team is me, myself and I. But I'll continue to rely on my husband for the joint projects.

Knowing what kind of person I am, with regards to projects, helps me to overcome my areas of weakness. I am hoping that my ramblings here can help you, as well. For me, just putting something down on paper, or reading someone else's idea on a subject, helps to clarify something in my mind, and propel me to achievement in an area I once thought not possible for me.

Have you worked on a project recently where you can identify which work-style you embody most? What ways did you motivate yourself to fill the gaps in your style? If you are a starter, how do you get yourself to continue on? If you are a plodder or finisher, what do you do to jump-start yourself into a project?


  1. It's good when you understand your working style because it helps you shore up your weak areas. I think I am a starter and a finisher. I would rather have a project done than have it hanging over my head. It's interesting to me that you like open ended projects so you can keep working on them and keep the creative juices flowing. I'd rather finish and move onto something else.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      That is great, your being both a start and finisher. being both probably helps propel you through the bulk of the work, to get to the end.

      My being mostly a starter used to drive my parents nuts. I had so many half-done projects all over the house. I have learned, over the years, to choose projects that I know I can do in a short span of time, and that really helps. And I've learned to tell myself that "everything is changeable", just to get me to finish something up. Having that thought in the back of my mind, that I can change it after it's done , if I want, helps me to just finish.

  2. I'm a weird mixture of all three.

    I allow myself the luxury of being a starter on my crafting projects. I treat them as my escape and pleasure not work.

    However, for most projects I'm a mixture of all three. I will not start something if I cannot finish it. My husband on the other hand is a huge starter and planner. Over the years we've learned to work together. I have to push him to finish things and he often takes me along just because I will plow through a project so that it is finished.

    1. Hi Shara,
      So, the two of you have figured a way to work together and get jobs done. I think that's what it often takes.

      For my husband and myself, I'll have the idea and creative direction, get a project started, then my husband will come along and put in the lion's share of the (what I consider) dull work, and I try, try, try to get us to finish it all up. So far, we've been able to manage this.

  3. Interesting way to look at it. I've never really thought about how I work. I just know that I have a lot of sewing projects half-done in the guest room. I would have to guess, then, that I'm a starter, a little bit of a plodder, but not at all a finisher. This is interesting. Thanks.

    1. Hi Sandy,
      It seems that a lot of people I talk with say they have trouble finishing a project. So you're not alone. Do you ever ask yourself why you can't motivate yourself to finish? One of my own answers is that I'm afraid it won't turn out as I'd hoped. And that's where reminding myself that things are changeable and correctable, can really help me. It is interesting how different we all can be. It does give me a lot more appreciation for those who can plod along with a project, and those who can just finish it all up.

  4. Ha! I am most definitely a starter, as evidenced by the many, MANY piles of unfinished projects. I even set aside a special cabinet just for my projects, but alas, it just became the place where all good ideas go to die. Things get started, shoved in the cabinet and never attended to again. Sigh.

    I'm trying to get better... but unfortunately, understanding my "starter" tendencies hasn't led to a cultivation of more "plodding" or "finishing" skills. Instead it's turning me into a bit of a "I-think-I'll-just-skip-it-entirely-er." Sigh.

    1. Hi Cat,
      Oh no, that's where I go at times, the "I just won't do this at all" place. This is one of the reasons I mostly take on projects that only take a couple of hours max of my time. I just can never see myself committing to a project that will take longer. If I can't get a job totally done start to finish, in one stretch, I'm not likely to try it at all.

  5. I am definitely the starter. I don't even mind the plodding part of the jobs, it's the finishing that I lack. This was first brought to light when several years back I took on the task of renovating an entire home. I would do all the big things get everything ready then move on to the next room knowing I only had the little touches to finish up. My sons called me on this and I had to face the fact that yep, I did move on to the new, more exciting job leaving the part I didn't enjoy (like the molding) for a later date.

    1. Hi Lois,
      That is so exactly like me. I'll get almost done, then leave the last few details undone. I've even gone so far as to sew a pair of slacks, get them almost done, except the hemming, and wind up taping the hems with duct tape, for the life of the pants, and never get around to actually hemming them. It just doesn't make sense when I think about it.

  6. I`m definetely a starter. Been this way all my life. Love beginning on new and exciting projects, but if it`s something that takes to long, or the development goes to slowly, I often find myself abandoning it. This quite annoys me, because I know I can be quite creative, I just don`t have the patience for it. the only way I can be creative and still be a finisher, is when it`s cooking or baking-related.

    1. Hi blonde,
      Totally know what you mean! It sounds like you at least know which types of projects that you're willing to see through to the end -- baking/cooking. And that's a good thing, too. I do use my blog to get me to do some things that I know are a bit of a stretch for my project work-style. Last summer I really did not want to paint our garden bench and chairs. By putting it on my to-do list on my blog I kind of forced myself to get to it. This month it's redoing one of the closets. I put that out there on my blog and will now feel I have to do it, I hope ; )

      Good luck to you, developing ways to motivate yourself to push through to the end on projects!


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