Wood Stacking Your Way Through Life

When Denisa left last week, I knew I had several things I wanted to get done before I had to head over to Europe myself. Near the top of the list? Stack two cord of wood so it can season properly for winter. It had been dumped in a big pile in front of one of our garage doors, and I wanted to be able to park the car there before I left, as well.

Stacking wood isn’t a glamorous job. It’s not particularly difficult, and you have a very good idea of what it will take to complete it before you begin. Each piece of wood in the pile needs to be picked up, moved, and stacked somewhere else. Hardly rocket science.

But starting a chore like that can be a real pain, especially when you know you’ll be doing it by yourself. (Typically I have children around to set to the task.)

When I’m in a situation like that, I used to let it overwhelm me. I’d look at the amount of work that needs to be done and feel like it was was far too much for me to handle just yet. Procrastination would kick in, and before I knew it, I’d be under the gun and scrambling to finish the job in time.

These days, I approach it the same way I approach writing a novel.

The first step is to figure out how much time I have. If I’m under a deadline, things change a fair bit. For this, I knew I had about nine days to stack the wood. So a deadline, but nothing insurmountable.

My next step is to do a bit of the work and gauge how long it takes. What’s a good amount I can do easily, without having to worry about it too much? For wood stacking, I have a lawn cart I use to get the job done. I fill it up with wood, pull it over to the new spot, and unload it. I did that once and estimated how big of a dent that made on the stack. Nothing huge, but then again, it hadn’t taken me more than 5 minutes to do. I did it four more times, doing a bit of quick math in my head as I progressed.

Experience had taught me a cord of wood is around 18 loads of my lawn cart. Two cord would be 36. Five loads took less than a half hour, and while I was a bit sweaty, it was nothing I was too worried about. 9 days, 5 loads a day, would equal out to 45 loads. Well over what I’d need.

So that was what I did. Each day, I’d go out for 25 minutes or so and do 5 loads with my lawn cart. Sure, some of the days I didn’t feel like doing it, but even on those days, I could tell myself it was just 5 loads. What’s the big deal? And I’d get them done. I finished the job yesterday.

I’ve been doing the same thing as I clean the house while they’re away. It’s the same thing I do when I’m writing. I know from experience 1,000 words isn’t too terribly much for me to get done in a day. (It used to be 500 words way back when, but I increased it a long time ago to keep pushing myself.) Sure, there are days I don’t want to do it, but even on those days, I can tell myself it’s just 1,000 words. Sometimes I’ll even break that down further. It’s just 100 words, ten times.

I find that when I handle big jobs like that, a piece each day, I am much more effective than when I get overwhelmed by a task all at once. Sure, sometimes I don’t have that luxury. There’s a deadline that needs to be met. But when possible, this is the one trick I use to get just about anything done.

Tiny bites. Little loads. They add up over time.


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