The Devil’s in the Details

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Popular advice on living and working goes two ways: “Don’t sweat the small stuff” or “Take care of the small things and the big things will take care of themselves.”

No wonder I’m always so confused! The paradoxical nature of these philosophies can create problems in life management. (At least it has for me lately.) As we move closer to launching our new product line (Colarting – where coloring becomes art) and our new website, the details seem to be ganging up on me and holding me down.

Two nights ago I spent three hours looking at embellishments online – weighing the pros and cons of rhinestone size, shape, and color; checking a ruler for relative size of charms; figuring out per piece prices on packaging; comparing the merits of glitter cord versus metallic cord … you get the picture. After dangling my toes in the wholesale supply market I presented my list to Lochinvar like a cat dropping a goldfish at her owner’s feet (and with about the same result). Needless to say he really just didn’t know what to do with this detailed list of shiny bits meant for our kits. (This is a good example of how to not sweat the small stuff – get someone else to do it for you. Of course, the down side to that is you are stuck with someone else’s decisions.) On the other hand, the right assortment of embellishments will add value to our pieces and (hopefully) make people want to buy them. Ultimately, Lochinvar did what all good partners do – he said, “This looks great!” and smiled encouragingly, even though he wasn’t really sure what I had done.

So, every time I spend hours doing something that looks insignificant I find myself contemplating whether or not I’m overthinking it or spinning my wheels for too long. After all, I have a deadline to meet. Which, of course, is another double-edged sword. While some people balk at deadlines, I tend to thrive under them. My ability to work under tight deadlines helped me land (and keep) my first writing job at The Mountain Press (my hometown newspaper), and it’s a skill that has served me well over my 23-year teaching career (especially when it comes to getting essays graded). However, deadlines are also stressful. They impose a sense of urgency that keeps me awake at night and demands time away from relaxing activities like enjoying a dirty martini and a James Bond movie with a cat in my lap.

I guess, in the end, the trick is choosing which details to give time to. If I sweat the right details (but not all the details) perhaps that will be enough.

 

 

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