Getting Things Done


My wife says that I’m a very productive person. But I know the truth. I’m just as much a procrastinator as everyone else.

Take, for example, my latest project. It’s been on the drawing board for at least two years, if not more. We live in Texas, which means the ground moves, and our foundation tends to shift and unsettle. We actually hired a team of guys to come and work on part if it when it got too bad a few years ago, but we have a large, ranch-style home, and the problem continues.

The traditional way of resolving the problem is to bury a soaker hose three inches deep six inches away from your foundation all the way around your house. Like I said, we have a very large house. Last summer I focused on the front yard and it was a major project. It took almost two weeks in the heat of a Texas summer to dig the trench, bury the hose, then rebury it. Of course, I don’t work very fast, so that’s measured in writer’s days, not your typical worker days…

Anyway, this summer’s priority was the back yard. The only difference this time was that (1) part of it went under a flower bed with ground cover; (2) part of it went under a brick walkway about 12 feet across; (3) the rest of it went under my deck. The deck was what I dreaded, both because I have back problems and because I knew the ground was likely as hard as concrete. I had the option of either crawling on my belly under the deck and using a spade to dig the 3 inch trench for the hose all the way around the foundation, OR I could decide to tear up the boards of my deck, use a proper shovel to dig my trench, then replace the boards and repaint.

For a long time I considered option #2. But yesterday I got up early and started work. I pulled back the ground cover–ivy in this situation–and was surprised that it came up relatively easy. Then I decided that rather than trying to run a line under the brickwork I would go ahead and pull them up. They came up easily too, since the bricks are somewhat old. By the end of yesterday, I had the trench dug from the faucet to the deck, the bricks pulled up, and the hose laid out.

Today the weather forecast was for even hotter weather, so I got up before dawn, and as soon as it was light, I started work. I used a bucket to return the dirt to the trench under the ground cover (over the soaker hose), and began replacing the bricks. Within an hour I had all of them replaced.

Now came the moment I had dreaded. I put Pandora on my phone for some inspirational music (Aerosmith in this case), crawled under the deck, shimmied on my belly and began digging. Within an hour I was done. Covered with cobwebs, sweaty, filthy, a few punctures from the odd nail, but done. A project I had dreaded for two years was completed.

Sometimes the best way to get a project off your to-do list and out of your list of worries is simply to do it.

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