Sheds, Trees and Good Deeds

I’m yet to do it, but “eat that frog” is a productivity trick explained in a book of the same title. It runs that an undesireable task (such as eating a frog) will take up the time you allow for it to be completed. It must be completed by a deadline, but is left till it absolutely has to be done and the pain of not doing it today becomes more than doing it. By avoiding undesirable (but often essential) tasks things take longer, so to be more productive you should do the thing you’re avoiding first. It also boosts motivation becasue everything else that day will be much nicer, now you’ve done the hard thing…. But I digress.

The relevant bit worth noting in the run up to a holiday is how all the things that need to be done, exactly fill the time you have left before departure. Now I’m pretty good at prioritising and keeping on top of things so I was feeling really relaxed a week ago that we would cruise into the holiday un-flustered. I had a few work things to get done, and even with another work item added to the list last min, it was looking good. Right up until the wall fell down, and the tree leant on my shed, and it started pissing water onto all my tools….

Suddenly the tree needed cutting down (good fun with my little electric chainsaw) munching up into bite sized pieces (no so much fun with old shears) and bagging and dragging to the local waste centre (a while drama of its own). The tree had self seeded ontop of an old, crumbling retaining wall behind my shed and must have been growing for years, slowly pushing it’s roots between the bricks. Eventually they burst and came tumbling down on our bins and the shed. Digging all this out took a day and getting the tree down took another day. In the process we discovered that the tree had lent on the shed roof and punched a hole in the old felt and water was very quickly getting inside each time it rained (which is very often in October in the UK).

Next up we had to cover the roof with new felt. This will only prolong the life of the shed by a year, maybe two, but if all things go to plan, that should be long enough. This took the best part of a day to complete. Last item was to dispose of the mulched tree that caused all this faff. We had bagged it and dragged it up to the van, humped it into the back and I took off to the waste centre to dospose of it. Due to previous disorganisation, the van was running on fumes, but there was a fuel station in town, so I’d go there first. Unluckily, I ran out, just at the top of the hill and coasted to a stop. Woth the engine dead, the power steering was off and it was a heavy beast to manhandle to the side of the road to await Aimi’s rescue. 

Of course, today is the day she decided to leave her phone inside, unanswered. After 6 missed calls, I stuck my thumb out and a helpful fellow resident of Oakamoor picked me up and took me to get a jerry can and some fuel. All this backwards and forwards meant I barely made it to the waste centre before it shut. I was also very pleasantly surprised when one of the workers helped me drag the bag of tree bits out the back of the van and up into the bin.

It was a wonderful day for community co-operation and charity which I’m very grateful for. I’m not sure the same sort of care would have been shown in a large city. It makes me grateful for living in a small village and want to payback the kind turn in future, should the opportunity arise.

That evening, aching from the manual labour my body is depressingly unused to doing, we relaxed with a tequila sunrise at sunset. Kayto on our knees we enjoyed watching climbing films and marvelling at some peoples incredible ability, physically and mentally, to overcome the climbing challenges they took on. As hard work and painful as climbing can be, and some of you might find that undesirable, none of them felt like they were eating any frogs. These people, and myself to a lesser extreme, choose to climb, even though the act is hard and painful, arguably undesirable traits. To me, this means the desirability or enjoyment of any task is purely an internal narrative we tell ourselves, as its got nothing to do with the actual task being done. 

I’m botching someone elses far more eloquent explanation of this, but if I cant change what needs to be done, then I may aswell tell myself a positive narrative about the task and enjoy it. (assuming your goal in life is to enjoy as much of it as possible?) Therefore, as we were taking the tree down, stacking the bricks and stones from the wall neatly out the way and clearing up the mess, even the adventure with running out of diesel, I tried to enjoy the process. It had to be done, was significant effort, not particularly glamorous work, and filled every available bit of time I had before the holiday. 

I guess you can call it “eat that frog” to get the hard things done first, but there is no reason why, at the same time, you can’t enjoy eating frogs?