Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tenacious Tip Tuesday – Change Activities Every 20 to 30 Minutes

As a confirmed Virgo, I almost cannot function in the garden without lists. Lists of plants, lists of plants longed for, lists of ideas for neat color combinations, lists of color combos never to be repeated, lists of things to do, lists of things to ask someone else to do, etc., etc. Nothing is more satisfying to me than having a list with lots of little check marks all over it; I really feel as though I’ve accomplished something.

A sample of some of my lists
One legal-sized notepad is dedicated to an ongoing list of everything I can think of that needs to be done in the garden, no matter how huge or how minor. The first page says “Master List of Things To Do”. One entry is to fertilize the lilies in the pond, the next is to redesign the bed with the apple tree and the one after that is to divide the helenium in bed #2. There is no rhyme or reason, just a free-flow of things to do. As an item is completed, it gets checked off and the date entered next to it.
I first made this list purely because my anal-retentive Virgo-ness forced me into it. Also, it was somehow very comforting to see that, despite the huge amount of work to be done, it was finite. There was a beginning and an end, see? Right there on the page(s)! That I kept adding to the list was beside the point. The goalposts kept moving, but consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds anyway. Or something.
Anyway, I read a tip a few months ago about switching activities every little while when you garden to help protect your joints and muscles from over-use, especially for people with back problems or arthritis. Every 20 to 30 minutes, they said, take a 5 minute break, then switch to an new activity which uses a different set of muscles. Repeat.
That certainly seemed reasonable so I tried it. Weeding is an endless task, so I chose the next bed in line and started with that. After crawling about, flinging greenery, for a half hour or so, I got up (creaking a bit), got a drink and grabbed my pruning shears.  Rolled around on my Scoot-n-Do, pruning roses for a bit then went to transplant an over-shaded daylily. Hey, isn’t that daylily one of the items from my Master List of Things To Do! Why, yes, it is! Cool, check that little bugger off. What’s next? Let’s see . . . weed out section 5. Already started that - may finish it today. Awesome – another check mark!
As the day went by (and it went quicker than usual), I found switching out not only helped my back, but it felt like I was getting more done without burning out on a given task. Yeah, blasting through an entire bed and weeding the whole thing is satisfying, in its way, but you can’t move the next day and nothing else gets done. And all those little check marks made my Virgo self very happy.
So there are 2 tips for the price of one: switch activities regularly and keep a master list to give you other activities to switch to!

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