Four tips for tackling an intimidating task

Remember when we bought a rotary cutter? (For those that need a refresher, it was in 2017.) We put it to work mowing the septic bed, meadow and pond shore. And then it got tucked into the driveshed and has been used rarely since.

Last year I cleared the septic bed and part of the meadow (again). But I didn’t use the cutter. The brush was too big by then, so I used my new-to-me reciprocating saw. Then Matt’s Dad came and used his chainsaw.

It was always my plan to use the rotary cutter too, but I never got to it last year.

Last week, I decided to give it a try.

I took advantage of nice weather, a free afternoon, and Ellie at school to hook up the mower. Tasks like this are always a bit intimidating for me. The cutter is huge and heavy. It’s a bit tricky to get everything connected properly. The tractor doesn’t always have great traction, and the ground I wanted to mow was hilly and bumpy–lots of chances to get stuck. (Like Cigo in the photo below, who is actually tangled up in a wild raspberry bramble.)

But in about twenty minutes, I had the cutter connected. Alright. Let’s try mowing. Success.

An hour after I first came outside, I was done. A task that had been on my list since last year (longer if you look back to when we bought the cutter) was done.

I was so proud of myself. Conquering something that feels hard is a big accomplishment. Here are my tips for tackling an intimidating task.

Start small

Break your task down into smaller steps. Focusing on one thing at a time can be less intimidating than looking at the whole big project that you have to do. My initial plan was to see if I could get the mower hooked up to the tractor. Even if that was all I accomplished, I was going to call it a win.

Just start

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out where to begin. Or you feel you can’t start until everything is perfectly set up. With the mowing, at first I couldn’t figure out how to balance the mower. It was tilted way too far forward and the front edge dug into the ground if I lowered the hitch too far. Also, I couldn’t get the PTO to fully lock. But I started anyway. After my first pass, I figured out how to balance the mower. The PTO slipped off a few times, but I eventually got it to click. And in the meantime, I got some mowing done. Even if you don’t feel completely ready, start. You’ll already be accomplishing something.

Ask for help

There is no rule that says you have to do everything yourself. It can be hard to ask for help, but in my experience people are usually very willing to step up. With the mowing, I could have called our farmer, our tractor salesperson, or my cousin who helps mow our grass. They are all very kind, generous people who know exactly how to connect the cutter to the tractor and would be happy save me some anxiety–and muscle strains. Think about the task you’re tackling and who would be best to help.

Know when to quit

Intimidating tasks truly are hard. If things really aren’t working out, it’s okay to take a break and come back later. (Perhaps after exercising your phone a friend option, above.) Even if things are going well, it’s also okay to take a break. With the mowing, I’d cleared the areas I wanted to clear and I’d managed not to get stuck. (I’d also managed not to run out of fuel, but the gauge was very low.) There’s always more I can do, but sitting on the tractor eyeing additional overgrown areas, I said to myself, “You’re pushing your luck.” And I drove up the hill to the barn.

It feels really good to cross this task off my list–and to know that I can do it again if I need to.

I’m hoping to do at least a couple more mowings this year to keep the septic bed clear. Maintaining is much easier than starting from scratch (again).

It’s also easier knowing that I can do this–and it wasn’t that hard.

Do you have any accomplishments to share? Or any intimidating tasks that you need encouragement to tackle? What tips to do you have to tackle intimidating tasks? What outdoor work have you been doing at your place?


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