Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Categories of projects

A comment on my recent post by Jeremy of JMAW Works gave me the idea for this post.

I have for a long time been following some general rules of how to categorize a project. These categories help me decide what to do and when.

This is the first time I have tried to write them down and put actual words on the categories, but I have more or less followed them for a long time.
They are all aimed at projects I do at home.

Instead of categories based on form or building method such as chairs, cupboards, chests, turnings, dovetails etc. my categories are primarily based on the weather and secondly the time of day.

Main categories are:
1) Nice dry weather .
2) Light rain or grey weather.
3) Rain.

Off course if a job can be handled in rainy weather, it can technically be handled in fine weather as well, but not necessarily the other way around.

Sub categories:
A) Day.
B) Afternoon.
C) Evening.

Day jobs are jobs that require natural light, and perhaps other shops to be open, and also the longest continuous stretch without disturbances.
Afternoon jobs are jobs that can be done when the boys are home from school, they might like to participate in the job, or I have to be able to leave the project at very short notice to help them or to drive them to soccer practice etc.
Evening jobs are jobs are for the time left after eating supper. During the weekdays our family normally eat supper at 5:30 in the afternoon, but it can be as early as 5 PM or as late as 6:30 too.
So a couple of hours in the shop is not unheard of until our youngest needs to be tucked in.

Whenever I have something that I would like to get done while at home, I place that project into one main category and into one or more of the sub categories.

This approach has helped me to work efficiently on multiple projects, and I like being efficient while I am at home.
Ever since I adopted the idea, I have been a lot better at not getting angry that I had to stop one project due to weather issues, because I would know exactly what other project I could switch over to.

My list of projects that I would like to get done while at home this time will get assigned to the following categories:

Bi-annular control of cars: 3)-A
This is a job that I don't plan on doing myself, and the mechanic can work on the cars inside. I just have to drive the cars to him and also later to the actual control.

Repair Volvo Valps: 2)-A
I have a machinery shed in which the Valps are parked. There is a concrete floor, so even with a bit of water I can lay on my back and work on them from beneath.
These jobs are best done without getting too distracted or disturbed.

Install panels and handrail in the small barn: 2)-A
I need to move in and out of the barn a bit with all the boards for the panels, so full rain is not nice for this job.

Make leather belts with Laura: 3)-C
This is a typical evening project. Something to be done in the shop and easy to go to and from during the process. It will most likely be a Friday or Saturday project.

Run the sawmill: 2)-AB
Dry weather is nice but not a complete requirement for running the sawmill. If it is too wet, it is simply unpleasant to go outside all the time with off-cuts and getting a new log etc. The boys like to help sawing with the sawmill, and I can stop anytime to drive and pick them up etc.

Empty the horses boxes and whitewash of  the stable: 3)-A
This is a large project,  inside save for emptying the wheelbarrow into the trailer.

In addition to these projects that were mentioned in my last post, there is also the ongoing list of perpetual projects, like:
Making and stacking firewood: 1)-AB
Cleaning and organizing the barn: 3)-ABC
Building stuff in the workshop: 3)-ABC
Garden/yard work: 1)-AB

Since the weather is generally bad From October to April, in those months it is especially important for me to have a few projects of each main category, so I won't risk wasting the single day of December without rain on doing indoor stuff.

Does anybody else categorize projects something like this?


  1. You're far more sophisticated than me. I divide mainly between tasks to do when the weather is right, and how much time is available. Sometimes I just want something to get checked off the list.
    Your system reminds me of the Jackson 5 song, ABC. Now I'll picture you singing like a young Michael Jackson running the Mulesaw.

    1. Hi Jeff

      Thanks for commenting.
      That is one awful song to be remembered by!
      I can assure you that you will NEVER find me singing a Jackson 5 song while working the sawmill :-)

      It might sound more complicated than it is. But I found that after dividing projects in my head into those categories, I had it much easier to accept if the weather suddenly turned bad during the day, because I could just pause the project and get on with something else.
      It doesn't mean that I like the Danish weather though, for instance I had planned to paint the small barn this year, but there never really were much of a chance. But maybe next year.

  2. Jonas,

    What is this rain of which you speak :-). Here in the desert Southwest there are fewer categories, Mainly hot and too hot, work day or not, and of course the most important one, is the boss home.


    1. Hi Ken

      If you knew how often I have cursed over the crappy Danish weather and hoped for a climate like yours. A climate where you can work on outside projects all year round, and perhaps even have a realistic chance of not having rain 3 times per week.
      I can see a problem in working in too hot an environment, but right now that seems like a luxury problem. :-)
      IT is self explanatory that projects on the "honey do" list have first priority!


  3. This sounds like a good planning method. I would probably do well to adopt something like this given the shifts of weather in the middle west of the US, I'm sure some things that should be done don't get done since when the weather is nice, I end up thinking, it's a great day to play. (thanks for the shout out too)

    1. Hi Jeremy.

      Glad to be able to point a bit of traffic in your direction.
      It works great for me, and lets say I am in the middle of category 3) project, and suddenly one morning the weather is mysteriously fine, then I have learned to stop the 3) project and go straight to the category 1) project. Because I know that if I don't do it, I'll regret not having worked outside the moment it starts raining again.
      A perpetual category 1) project is the making and stacking of firewood. It is one of those projects that requires an enormous effort to be visible, but a couple of hours here and there will eventually get the job done.

      Walking the dog sort of trumps all projects, so I try to do that no matter how the weather is. It gives me some exercise too.