Sunday, March 6, 2011

Getting Things Done (Or Not)

I got a promotion! (Sort of.)  The real story is that on paper, I am still a historic interpreter for the living history museum where I work. (Actually, all our titles recently changed to "Museum Educators", but that's just semantics.)  The "promotion" I am speaking of is really just making the additional duties of acting as the museum costumer slightly more official. To be clear- the museum doesn't actually have a "Costumer" with a capital-C.  They haven't for years.  They have regular employees such as myself who have some skill and knowledge in this department doing their darnedest to keep everyone looking decent and as period-correct as possible.  For the past year, they didn't even have anyone doing that.  The costume department became a free-for-all with no one accounting for who was wearing what or maintaining the costumes we have, let alone producing anything new.  I took some of these duties upon myself trying to keep things from going totally chaotic, such as sewing on buttons for those who lost them, or altering a petticoat so no one tripped on the hem.  I was doing these things on a completely unofficial basis as favors to the wearers of costumes in need of mending, mainly on my own time with my own supplies.

This year things have started off with the pleasant surprise of management making my completely unofficial title of costumer slightly more official.  Like I said, they don't have an open position for a capital-C Costumer, and haven't for a decade.  What I am now is the costumer, lower-case-c.  (I hope this makes sense.) Basically I fulfill the duties that a Costumer would, which is mainly running the costume department, but since the official position doesn't exist, I can't even hope to be the official Costumer.  I didn't get a raise, I don't get cool business cards with my name on them, but it does give me more hours which I desperately need, so for now, I'm happy.

I spent weeks just trying to get the costume rooms cleaned up and organized enough to function within, and now we are well into the beginning of our programming season.  For part of the day I play a roll in our Underground Railroad program like everyone else, but after they leave in the afternoon you can find me sitting in the basement costume office trying to keep my head from spinning with everything that needs to be done around there.  Some things are very long term or low-priority tasks, such as neatly winding up the bags of ribbon that were donated to us so they don't get all knotted up, but other things are last-minute yet high-priority such as replacing 4 buttons on a pair of man's trousers that all popped off on the same say so he has the ability to wear them the next morning.  I'm pretty sure the employee wearing those trousers thanks me that I at least recognize the difference in priority levels. ;)

The only problem I am having with this priority-level thing is that it often leaves me with tasks sitting on my to-do list that I really really want the satisfaction of crossing off, but when other things pop up (or pop off, as in the case of the buttons) they get moved to the back burner.  A good example of this would be (ironically) the case of another set of buttons.

This coming weekend we will be starting another program for which a few staff members need additional costumes outside of what they usually wear.  One of these items is a wool over-shirt from the Ohio Pioneer era of 1810-1815ish.  The employee who is to wear this shirt apparently has much smaller wrists than the last guy who wore it, so the cuff openings just slip right down over his hands.  Not a problem- all I need to do is add another button to each cuff about 2 inches over so he can tighten them to his size.  This should take me 15 minutes, tops.  However, even though I put this task on my to-do list a week ago, I still haven't been able to get around to doing it.  Other things have taken priority over the shirt buttons because their due-dates have fallen in a more-immediate time frame, such as RIGHT NOW, or the following morning.  Tasks like these crop up every day and I must fit them in with the other items that are more on-going projects.

I realize this is life, and how I should be handling things. The problem is, the shirt-button due-date is this coming Thursday, here it is Sunday, and this 15-minute-tops project still isn't completed.  I know with the way things have been going I will probably get the chance to put them on sometime like late-Wednesday afternoon, and to me, this feels like procrastination.  It's not, I know that, but I am the kind of girl that likes to get things done, cross it off the list, and forget about it.  Not,  let them sit festering on the list for over a week where it taunts me with it's approaching due-date.  I'm sure this is just another way my perfectionism is manifesting itself and I will just have to adjust and grow accustomed to this way of prioritizing projects, but can't someone make the little nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me I have somehow failed go away? Please?