Sunday, January 10, 2010

Get 'er done! (or not)

Saphron, a fellow blogger, recently solved a few household maintenance problems. Her problems weren't huge, but they were still intimidating.

Life is full of problems. Have you noticed?

It's not always the size of the problem that halts us. Often it's just not knowing where to start.

I've been studying Creative Problem Solving for three decades. (I'm not old... I've just been young for a long time.)

Teaching at an elementary school for the last two years, I've learned to distill my 30 years of experience down to a simple six step process for Creative Problem Solving. I call the process: Get 'er done.

"Get 'er done" is a catch-phrase made popular by Larry the Cable Guy. So much of the time we just complain about our problems instead of fixing them. Larry tells us what we need to do: Get 'er done!

But how?

Here are some simple steps that even fourth grade students learn to use... even when I'm not around:

1) What kind of a problem is it? (Read the directions if available.)
2) Do I have a strategy? (Create a plan. Look in your bag of tricks.)
3) What's my first step? (Get going. A rudder only works when the ship is moving.)
4) What's my next step? (Once you start, things become clear: one step at a time. Pretty soon, you've solved the problem.)
5) Check your answer! (Did my solution work? Find a way to check your answer.)
6) Happy Dance! (The performing arts taught me this. Celebrate the victory!)

This process works for math, household projects, relationships, child-training, etc.

Saphron learned to use a screwdriver! Lately I've been learning to use trust.

Problems got you stymied? Maybe you just need to "Get 'er done!"

This summer I re-learned how to wax my cars. I hadn't done it for 15 years or so. They've made it a lot easier. So today, before I settle in for some serious football-on-the-TV time, I'm going to wash and wax a car. I know what kind of a problem it is... I have a strategy... It's time to move on... to Step One. (See before and after pics...)

Have a great week!


  1. For the record, everyone! I already knew how to use a screwdriver. :)

    But, I did learn that what I achieved applied to more than just appliances. And so now I'm wondering what else in life I can fix that I've been waiting too long to.

    Think I'll write down Don's six-step process, just in case...

  2. @Saphron: I believe you. Your post informed me that you have your own tool-box! Your comment says it all: "And so now I'm wondering what else in life I can fix that I've been waiting too long to." You rock!

  3. I think "happy dance" will be my favorite part! Thanks for the advice Don. I can always use some help in getting everything done. Some days I feel like I'm drowning in tasks.

    Hope all is well with you and the family. I wanted to mention that there is a new PP&P inspired blog with daily writing prompts. It's called "Write with Pictures". It's on my blog list if you're interested in participating one of these days. I always enjoyed your submissions on PP&P.

  4. the title of this made me laugh, as there is a girl on my softball team who we always say Get'er done number one (and her last name is dunn)

    i feel like i should show this to my dad, so he can maybe actually finish these household projects we have going on..

  5. @September: Happy Dance is the most favorite step of my students. Success is addictive. Celebrating the tiny victories creates momentum and makes for some nice smiles along the way. Dance on!

    (I'll check out the writing blog too. Thanks.)

    @we-the-pieces: I'm always glad when I make people laugh. The other day I walked into a desk while teaching. Sometimes I laugh at others, sometimes they laugh at me. You just can't take yourself too seriously, because we're funny!

    Maybe you can help your dad, or just cheer him on: "Get 'er done Dad! You can do it!" Something simple like that. ;-)

    Just don't be surprised if he enlists you to help. Sometimes, having a helper is like the feather in Dumbo's trunk: not really necessary, but effective at a sub-conscious level.