Getting things done (piece by piece)

My husband and I are both training for a half-marathon in late September. Weekends can be a great time for the necessary long runs, but fitting both of our long runs in on a weekend amid the various kid activities can be challenging.

What I’ve wound up doing the last two weekends is splitting my long run into two parts. This past Saturday, for instance, I ran in my neighborhood from 7 a.m. to 8:25 a.m. I then took my 7-year-old to his 9 a.m. karate class. After getting him situated, I ran around that neighborhood for another 20 minutes. The weekend before I had run an hour with a friend in the morning, and then ran 30 minutes later in the morning with my 15-year-old.

Is it as good as running 90 minutes or 105 minutes consecutively? Possibly not. But in terms of training I assume it’s better than not adding on the second run.

I’ve been doing the same as I practice my new speech. With a new book out this fall, it’s time to switch up my material. Running through the whole speech requires 40 uninterrupted minutes when my voice isn’t tired. I’ve done that a few times, but I’ve increased the volume of my practicing by viewing the six chunks of the speech as separate entities. I practiced two before bed the other night (which was about all I could muster). I did another section in the car on the way to my audiobook recording yesterday. And so on.

Long, uninterrupted chunks of time are great when we can get them. Unfortunately, for various reasons, those chunks might not always be available. When that’s the case, it’s tempting to think that we can’t get anything done. But life is seldom either/or, and perfect doesn’t need to be the enemy of the good. It might be possible to get things done in little pieces. Little pieces, over time, add up.

3 thoughts on “Getting things done (piece by piece)

  1. Amen. Trying to tell myself this on repeat over a summer that has been so choppy and devoid of routine I feel like I’m floundering a bit.
    I just need to break things down into bite-sized chunks and do one thing at a time. It all gets done eventually…or it doesn’t. And generally nothing bad happens if it doesn’t!

  2. I’m trying to change my thinking on things like this as well. For some reason with workouts it doesn’t bother me, and I think it can actually be beneficial to break them up—I’ve been trying to walk more and usually take 2-3 walks of about 10-15 minutes each. If Laura hadn’t run a half marathon before, it might be more beneficial to make most long runs in one go to get used to the feeling, the boredom, etc. But that’s obviously not an issue in this case and I did read an article in Runner’s World a few years ago about the benefits of two runs in a day 😉

    I struggle with this with household tasks. I do usually want to get started on something even if I might not finish, but I feel scattered when I leave something half-done, especially if I can’t put parts of it away or easily let others know that the dishwasher is only half-unloaded, for example. I feel like I am prone to distraction at times anyway so deliberately breaking things up makes me a little anxious sometimes. I also love crossing things off of lists, both written and digital, do not being able to complete something and cross it off is a bummer. I’ve gotten around that by writing “work on such-and-such” on a list or breaking it down in smaller parts and writing the parts on a list. So sometimes “laundry” gets crossed off one evening and the next day becomes “fold and put away laundry.”

  3. Being at the Jersey shore for two weeks and not being in my usual routine, I managed to write and practice my toastmaster speech in bits and pieces. I often fall into the trap of thinking I need a big chunk of time to get things done, especially tasks that require me to sit down and concentrate. Thank you for the reminder that you can accomplish a lot in small blocks of 15 minutes here and there.

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