Monday Musings: UFO Sightings Part 4--Where to Start?

So you've made your list and checked it twice, right?

I know at least some of you have--I've been hearing the reports! Love getting the feedback. I've also gone through my own list and, although I was prepared for this week's post (I do have a bit of an "in" with the blog writer), I still haven't done a bang-up job of attending to this week's assignment in my own life. So we're all in this one together for sure!

Now that you know what your UFOs are, and now that you know which ones you're actually going to commit to finishing (you did knock one or two, if not more, off the list, right?), now it's time to make a plan for finishing!

Rather than just starting at the top of the list and working your way down, I'd suggest you figure out which one you want to finish next using the following criteria:

1. Look for UFOs with built-in deadlines. For example, were you working on a wedding quilt that got set aside, but now the wedding is only a couple of months (or weeks--yikes!) away? This first sub-category--imminent first-run deadlines--is pretty easy to figure out and calendarize, so go there first. The second sub-category is "deadlines that have already been blown." But a deadline can always be reworked in a meaningful way: For example, is that baby who you were working on that baby quilt for about to have their own baby, so maybe that UFO can be repurposed for the next generation? Or could the unfinished high school graduation quilt now perhaps be a wedding or a housewarming gift? I'm not always an advocate of going with deadline-driven UFOs first (see the following categories) but let's face it--some of us work best to a deadline, so if you're that kind of person, give yourself a deadline or two!

2. Look for "Easy Wins." This is actually my favorite category, but it only goes so far. In this category, you find those UFOs that would take you so little work to finish it's actually pretty ridiculous it's still sitting on that dang shelf. Ahem. Sorry--I just let you in on a personal between-me-and-my-UFOs conversation. In any case, if you don't have any seriously imminent deadlines from category 1, this would always be the first place I'd suggest starting. An Easy Win makes you feel great and gets the buzz going. Once you knock out a fast UFO finish, you're gung-ho for the next one. You may not want to knock out all your Easy Wins in a row, though, as you'll then be left with the ones you have to slog through a little more and you'll just stop dead again. Depending on how many EW's you have, maybe you want to knock out one or two, then a longer one, then an other EW, then a longer one...rewarding yourself, as it were. Pretty soon, however, it's likely you'll run out of Easy Wins and you'll only have longer finishes facing you. Which leads me to the next category...

3. Look for the most interesting. Which UFOs still interest or intrigue you in some way? Is there a UFO you really did enjoy working on, but it was just taking longer than you thought so it got set aside, or it got sidelined by other projects that fall under #1 above and just fell off your radar? We're always more motivated to work on projects that keep our interest, so these UFOs are more likely to get finished, even if they're going to take us a little longer. 

4. Look at what's left: The frustrating projects or those that we've just lost interest in. Once again, I'd say that the first step here is to really be sure you actually have to finish these UFOs (see my last blog post). But if they're still on your list for whatever reason, and they don't fit into any of the other three categories above, you may have to really get creative with your own personal mind-games to get yourself to finish UFOS in this category. 

  • Consider revamping your plans. Maybe just considering a different setting or border treatment or embellishment will bump this UFO into category #3. Or simplifying your design will bump it into #2. Or mentally designating it as a gift for someone on your Christmas list will bump it into #1. Look at that UFO and ask yourself, "What gift can I give myself in terms of this UFO? Is there something I could do differently that would make me gung-ho about finishing it?"
  • Turn it into a friendly competition with a friend. Does your BQF (Best Quilty Friend) have a UFO that's working her very last nerve too? Challenge each other to finish your UFO by a certain date, and have the winner take the loser out to lunch. You both got it done? Pay for each other's meal, or take a third friend out and both treat her! Or run a UFO challenge in your guild as I've done a few different years: To join the challenge, each participant gives one fat quarter as a "registration fee" and a list of 10 UFOs they plan to finish in the year. The fat quarters go into a "kitty." I created a spreadsheet with everyone's name and the list, and then we have quarterly check-ins. Anyone who has finished one or more of their UFOs during that quarter gets their name put in for a drawing and the winner gets to pick one fat quarter from the kitty. At the end of the year, anyone who has finished all of their 10 UFOs gets their name put in a drawing of the grand prize--all the remaining fat quarters in the kitty. (I also had a set of sparkly antennae the winner got to wear through the rest of the meeting.) It's great fun, and every time we've done it just about everyone has finished at least half of their UFO list--several people finished all of them!
  • Reward yourself. Figure out a treat you can give yourself when the UFO is completed--beyond just being able to mark it as done on your list. Get a pedicure or massage, make your significant other take you to dinner and a movie, go for a really long walk in a beautiful park, spend a lazy afternoon with a good novel...I suppose your reward could even be buying more fabric, although most of us are trying to finish up UFOs as part of an overall stash-busting scheme so if that's your reward, on your own head be it.

So, using these categories, your challenge this week is to choose which UFO you're going to work on next. (If you're already working on a UFO, great! Decide which one you're going to tackle after this one.) 

The problem I've been having lately is that I've been bouncing around a bit in terms of which UFOs I want to finish next. I've probably had three or four rotate on and off my design wall as I'm pondering one or the other. I think doing the Annie Unrein bag is scattering my brain in other places. Fortunately, this week and the coming weekend are fairly clear so I have hopes of once again making some progress... to me!