One little Project at a time

Well, here we are, a week into 2021. I’m trying to do a lot of little things in my life, after 10 months of work-from-home and social distancing, lock-downs and isolation, I discovered over my Christmas break that I am in a rut, both hobby and personally. I have been a creature of routine for years, and over the 10 months of being home basically the whole time, I’m lost. I have lost the ability to get out of bed at a regular time, and function, and was increasingly relying on ever larger pots of coffee each day to try and convince my body to function to work during the day, and have some semblance of a life after work. Every time I look at the layout, I’m looking to do big projects and make visible advancements because I am spending at least 8 hours a day looking at it while I work, and I was getting myself into knots making lists of projects I wanted to do, and getting nothing done because I wasn’t just doing something small and cant do big projects that may need to sit on the desk for weeks when I need it clear each morning for work.

This week, I’ve tried to re-start routine. Before the pandemic, I got up at 6am, was at the bus stop at the end of my street by 6:40, and at my desk at 8am. Come 4pm or so, reverse the trip, and the TTC God’s willing, I’d be home and making dinner by 6pm. Obviously, I don’t need a 2 hour window to get from our bedroom to the home office/layout room 10′ away!! That said, I have set my alarm this week for 7am, the first time its been on regularly since March, I am getting up, doing a quick 20 minute workout, having breakfast, and getting to my desk for 8am. This means, on a normal day, come 4pm, I can turn off my work laptop, and walk away, most likely down the hall 10′ to have a nap for an hour. After that refresher/break, I can get up and make dinner and have an evening (full disclosure, I used to sleep on the subway home after work as part of my post work recovery for my personal time during the day).

So, with that, this week I’ve kinda returned to what I do best in some ways, puttering. Monday night I did some prep on cast metal wheel stops, did some cleaning on the layout, and thought about little things I can do. Tuesday, I built some more hydro poles and cleaned up the ones I’d already built a bit. Wednesday, to escape the news of the day, I set up the paint booth and painted about a half dozen small projects or items that were ready for paint (setup, painting, cleaning filled a good hour and a half where there is no TV and I didn’t look at my phone), including the first batch of hydro poles, primer on part of the H&D Factory, the wheel stops, some sidewalk styrene, and some wheelsets. Thursday evening, I installed some of the wheelstops, the sidewalk and looked at other places that need to have sidewalks made. Nothing big, just little things. Some glue here, some paint there, some scenic scatter in the corner. No big action. Not, “I’m going to build the wall of a building” or lay 10 square feet of ground cover. Just little things, that even I barely notice when I look back at where I was working.

A gallery of little projects, base paint on hydro poles, primer on H&D, sidewalks in front of 60 Atlantic, and wheel stops at the edge of the universe (they will get weathered in situ)!

Sometimes I have to remind myself, I am not building a large layout. The entire area of my benchwork is approximately 36 square feet. For comparison, a 4’x8′ sheet of plywood is 32 square feet. Yes, it fills two walls in my room and half the closet, but it is not large. I don’t know how people build large layouts, as this is daunting enough, but biting off manageable pieces and just puttering a little bit every night, I will get there. I am 7 days into 2021, there are 358 days to go this year. On some of those 358 days, I definitely will take on big projects, but using my weeknights to just do little things that don’t take a lot of time to set up or do, is I think going to be my way of trying to keep going forward. What will I do tomorrow on Friday night? Who knows, maybe nothing, maybe something, but that’s OK and I’m finally starting to I hope wrap my head around that.

3 thoughts on “One little Project at a time

  1. The key to building large layouts? Retirement. While I haven’t even started a full time job yet, the owners of all the large layouts in my area are all fully or semi-retired. To those that have built a big layout while working a full time job and raising a family, good job. Remember that building your layout isn’t a race. I just took a couple months off my layout completely, and it actually helped my mind when I came back to the drawing board.

  2. I’m happy to hear that you’re re-starting the routine. This past year has been tough on all of us. The next couple of months are going to be even tougher, even as vaccines start to roll out. And despite the rosy forecasts, we’re going to be dealing with this pandemic for many months to come. So figuring out what you need to do to maintain a sense of normalcy in your life is vital.
    I’m also happy to hear that you’re fighting the layout burnout by tackling those smaller, more manageable projects. I didn’t do that with Port Rowan. I should have. I know I have rolling stock – lots of it – that still has unpainted glad hands on the train line air hoses. And other little jobs I could be tackling, even though I’m currently between layouts. I’ll get there. It’s a hobby after all – one should not feel compelled to do it. It serves us – not the other way around.
    A highlight for me over the past year has been the opportunity to talk more with friends – including the many text message exchanges you and I have had. That’s been a good thing to come out of Covidpalooza and I look forward to that continuing.
    Take care and keep sharing the updates on your hobby – I always enjoy reading them!

  3. Stephen, I often say it’s not the hours but the minutes that count. Even if I only spend fifteen minutes a day on my hobby, it has the desired effect – both in terms of progress and mental health.

    I also found I had to re-introduce some routine. For me, I missed my daily bike ride to and from work. So now, I have breakfast, shave and brush my teeth, then jump on the bike for my “faux commute.” It’s done wonders.

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