2 BIG Projects
In the past few weeks I’ve completed 2 big projects that required an amount of hard, physical labor on my part.
A beautiful garden
First, I promised Kia a set of raised garden beds for her Mother’s Day gift. I spent a weekend doing research, gathering materials, building and installing the boxes.
An important step of creating these garden boxes was leveling the ground they were installed on. This meant some back wrenching shoveling, leveling, more shoveling, more leveling, putting the boxes in, more leveling, taking the boxes out, more shoveling, more leveling, etc, etc, etc.
By the time I got to the 3rd box, I was actually pretty good, but it was no less work. You can see the finished product throughout this post.
A new floor.
Second, I have one little rental property that had a job I’ve put off for a long time. The kitchen floor was an un-level and cracked concrete mess. It was in need of repair.
The repair involved 48 eighty pound bags of concrete mix, mixing each bag (with a worthless mixer or wheelbarrow), and leveling the concrete up to 5 inches in the worst areas (I told you it was a long overdue project).
The bulk of this project was done in 1 day, at the end of which I was so tired I was unable to mix and pour the last 3 bags (after having spread 45 bags). We were simply too worn out.
A little hard work does you good.
Both projects reminded me of a couple of things.
I don’t want to be a carpenter for a living, but I do need do hard work. It’s good for me. In fact, as I worked I thought about this very article. I thought about these 4 values of doing hard, physical labor.
1. Steal like an artist.
In his book, Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon titled a chapter, “Use Your Hands.” He quotes John Cleese (one of the geniuses behind Monty Python):
We don’t know where we get our ideas from. What we do know is that we do not get them from our laptops.
I don’t know what it is about physical labor, but physically using our hands to create – whether it’s for a project that is related to your art or something completely different (as in my case) stimulates creativity. I think it has something to do with…
2. Time to think.
Mindless labor creates time to let our minds wander. The building of the garden boxes and pouring concrete into the kitchen required times of intense concentration on what I was doing, but it also had more than ample amounts of time of nothing more than hard work.
These moments of hard work allowed my mind to go to articles like this. It let me think about creating new business opportunities. It let me think about my family. It let me think about other things I needed to do at home and in the office.
The key is capturing these ideas. I make sure to write these down at a break or record them with my phone (directly into Evernote).
3. Value “easier” jobs.
At the end of working physically hard on a project, I’ve found I find a lot of value in sitting behind a desk and writing, emailing, designing, talking on the phone or doing the books.
My body is worn out, but my mind is alive as opposed to my mind be worn out, but my body being alive.
4. A sense of accomplishment.
Sometimes I find a business venture overwhelming because there doesn’t ever seem to be a finish line. Projects come and go, but the business is never “finished”.
A physical project like building a garden box has an end point (though the garden in it is ongoing). That end point allows me to sit back and admire my work. This helps me when I switch back to “business” mode, and the work just keeps coming.
Don’t be too busy.
I’ve found over the course of the last month, I had made myself too busy to do hard jobs. Looking back now, I can’t figure out what I was doing in all that time.
Don’t be too busy to do hard work. Don’t put it off. It’s connected to your “real” work. Hard work will make your business, life and photography better.