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A Cut Above
Photo:C.De Grandmaison
There I sat staring at my weekend home project list. There were things on the list I enjoyed doing (mowing the lawn) and things I didn’t enjoy so much (cleaning the garage). I naturally wanted to focus on things I enjoyed (building a gate), but knew I needed to get other things done as well (pruning the raspberry plants). Where do I start?

I once read that truly successful people aren’t necessarily more intelligent than the rest of us, they simply do the things that other people don’t like to do—and they tackle those things first. In other words, what puts some people a cut above others is not slick thinking. It’s being willing to work hard at the projects that others don’t want to put time into.

For instance, when we planted raspberry plants in our garden, we were thrilled to pick our first crop. The following year the crop was a little better and the year after that it was okay.  I asked a friend about getting more raspberries. He asked, “Have you been pruning your plants each year?” I told him, “Sort of.” I thought raspberry plants didn’t need much work.

He then said, “You need to really prune them back. Remove all the dead vines from the previous year and cut out all the small suckers so that you only have five healthy vines in a cluster.” So, I followed his advice and thought I’d killed my raspberries off. They looked pathetic when I was finished! But was I ever surprised at the results. We had the biggest crop ever! It took a little more time but cutting back our raspberry plants put them a cut above the previous year.


Taking the time to do projects you dislike—and doing them before other projects—also impacts your motivation. You might think, “Motivation? But I don’t feel motivated to do certain things first!” That’s the point. If you work first on the items on your “to do” list that you’re probably not wanting to do—things that are a little tougher—you will find that when you complete them you will not only have a bigger sense of accomplishment, but you will have energy to do the things you enjoy.

If you stop and think about those unpleasant tasks that need to be done, you might find that they are very important, but not pressing. If you accomplished them, you would be ahead in the long run. We tend to put off things that are not screaming for our attention because life is filled with so many urgent calls. Living with so much pulling at our lives, we don’t feel we have the energy to work on things that are not knocking on our door.

The question is, “What are those important things?” You can find the answer by filtering your list with this question: “What don’t I want to do?” Very often it will reveal what really needs to get done. It will uncover things that would make your life happier and more fulfilling if you tackled them.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to sharpen my hand pruners and loppers and get to my raspberry bushes…

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By Curtis Rittenour. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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