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May 26, 2009

Doing Projects the Hard Way

Posted in: Organizing with ADD

flower-bedYou want to get your (actual) butt in shape? Try loading a wheelbarrow with 100 lbs and then pushing it up a steep hill. Then do it a few more times, and repeat the following day. This is what I did over the weekend, as I tried to create a planting bed around my house. It turns out that I am an absolute expert when it comes to gardening the hard way. The last time I worked on the landscape, I planted a few shrubs and thought that I could easily dig up the ground. WRONG. Digging up our compacted, rocky soil turned out to be a lot of hard work. I remember my arms and shoulders being sore for days afterward. I vowed to do it "the easy way" next time. So when I read an article about making a "lazy bed," I was on board. The technique involves laying down newspaper and then covering it with soil, compost, and mulch. Then you wait a few months while the newspaper decomposes and the compost loosens up the ground below. By the end of the season, your bed is ready for planting. Sounds easy, right? Once again, WRONG.Perhaps I should have considered:

  • Trying this technique with a smaller bed
  • The constant wind we get because we live on a big hill (keeping the newspapers from blowing away before I could cover them was harder than I thought)
  • The hours and hours and hours that would be involved from start to finish
  • Ten or so wheelbarrow trips would–literally–bust my butt! (I was so sore!!)

I did, eventually, complete my project. But it certainly wasn't the easy route.As a fellow ADDer, you're probably all too familiar with situations like mine. You get a great idea, dive in, and then find that your idea will require more time, energy, and resources than you thought it would. The options you're left with are 1) quit 2) burn yourself out to finish or 3) make a plan to finish over time. (The third option is often the hardest for adults with ADD.) And no matter which option you choose, the most important thing you can do is to learn from your mistakes. It's tempting to get down on yourself after experiences like these. Despite your best intentions and careful planning, "the easy way" can turn out to be very difficult. And while this may feel like failure, it's really just a learning experience. It doesn't matter how hard your project turns out to be. It doesn't matter how many ways you miscalculated your plans. If you're open to learning, then you can't fail.

Each mistake you make brings you one step closer to a solution. Sometimes, you have to make a lot of mistakes to get to where you want to go. But if you're willing to learn from your mistakes, then you'll always be moving forward.

So the next time your "easy" project turns out to be harder than you thought, DON'T beat yourself up about it. Just take a trial-and-error approach. I guarantee you'll be much more successful!

As for me and my landscaping projects, I now know that digging doesn't work, and lazy beds are anything but lazy. I think it's time to rent a rototiller.


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