Work Days - One way to get projects done and have fun doing them!

By Janet (imapigeon) on October 23, 2010

If you’re like me, you have a lot of items on your To Do list. For the past five years, some friends and I have been able to cross a lot of them off by helping each other with projects one day a month.

It really all started when Rene volunteered to help me dig out bermuda grass---at the time, she was living in an apartment and missed having a garden.  I was SO grateful for her help with that awful job; I told her whenever she had a yard again, I owed her a day.  Then Greg and Daryl moved to a home with a garden that needed some TLC to return it to its former glory.  My husband and I offered to share our tools and DIY skills in exchange for their help at our place.  We agreed to alternate houses and work together one Saturday a month.  After four months the two men decided this really wasn’t how they wanted to spend their Saturdays, and our “Women’s Work Days” (WWDs) began.  When Rene moved to a place with a yard, we invited her to join us.  After working with us for four years, she bought nine acres, and recently left the team to spend weekends working on her big dream property.  Megan, our newest member, is a beginning gardener with boundless enthusiasm, fantastic ideas, and a yard that’s a blank canvas.

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2010-10-23/imapigeon/086aa5 2010-10-23/imapigeon/60acd6

In the early days, I kept a spreadsheet of how many hours each of us had put in, because I was concerned about “coming out even”.  But it quickly became obvious that was unnecessary---we all worked as hard as we could, and we always got a lot more than any of us could do on our own.  Since 2005 we’ve completed a tremendous number of tasks, learned new skills, and finished projects we might not otherwise have even started.  Using the team as a sounding board, I’ve made decisions about things (like the tile design for my fountain, and whether or not to cut down a tree) that had me in “analysis paralysis” for weeks!

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Although we don’t confine ourselves to gardening projects, they have comprised about 75% of what we’ve done.  We’ve also refinished furniture, painted (inside and out), mortared tiles, built walls, set fence posts, and painted/assembled lawn chairs.  We’ve also become better friends, and take a lot of personal pride in what we’ve done at each others’ houses.  I occasionally drive a passenger past Daryl’s beautiful front garden to show it off; and she and Rene know as much about the plants in my yard as I do!

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Two critical elements to our success are complementary work styles, and a good process that we’ve developed over time.  Here are the basics:

  • Work days are scheduled at least two months in advance at alternating places, and only shifted for emergencies.  Occasionally we trade off months to help prepare for upcoming events, (like the big graduation party I had in May that required two WWDs in a row at my house---traded off for two months in a row at Daryl’s).
  • The hostess emails the list of projects she’d like done a few days in ahead of time, and typically provides all materials.
  • As the “Tool Queen”, I bring whatever extra tools I think we might need from my inventory.
  • When we arrive, we sit down for coffee and a light breakfast, and spend some time catching up on what’s been going on in our lives.
  • Before we dive into our projects, we try to remember to take “before” photos!
  • We’ve found that even if we don’t talk while we work, we enjoy our time more when we’re all within earshot of each other.
  • We work for 3-4 hours, then break for lunch provided by the hostess.  Lunch ranges from something cooked in advance to take-out, sandwiches, or a visit to a nearby restaurant.
  • After lunch we work for another 2-4 hours, then clean up and put away tools.
  • We try to remember to take “after” photos!
  • The hostess provides a beverage, which we enjoy while relaxing and admiring everything we accomplished during the day.
  • In January, we do a non-working “outing”.  In past years we’ve visited the San Francisco conservatory, gone to a public garden, checked out new nurseries, and attended a home show.

If you like the sound of the WWD concept, forward this article to someone you think you might work well with, and give it a try!

Here are some more photos of projects we've completed on our Women's Work Days:

2010-10-23/imapigeon/93e12c2010-10-23/imapigeon/a79bf0

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2010-10-23/imapigeon/d1d1d6 2010-10-23/imapigeon/9f4893

Related articles:
projects, teamwork, Women's Work Days

About Janet
I've been involved with clay off and on since 1972----I love getting my hands in the mud! I've taken classes at several colleges, managed ceramic shops, and taught many students. After retiring in 2009 from environmental, health and safety, I began dedicating several hours a week to clay projects in my little studio. I especially like throwing planters, bowls and lidded jars, and I've made hundreds of handpainted tiles for my house. I do much of my firing at home, where I have both electric and gas kilns.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Janet JoanneChilcoat Jul 25, 2016 10:36 PM 0
Wonderful valleylynn Mar 11, 2011 11:59 AM 14

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