Monday, 18 November 2013

Keep chipping away at it

You know if you've got a job to do, and you don't much feel like doing it, you can't get motivated, and the job is not going to go away. Well my solution is divide it into smaller chunks and keep chipping away at it. I like the idea of only doing as much as I want to at any one time. When I get fed up I stop and do something else. I do that with housework, I hate window cleaning, so I do one window on one day and another one another day. Eventually they all get done. I chip away at them. In the garden I will tidy for two hours, mow the lawn, a bit of weeding or hedge trimming, potter about, then stop, don't want to do that any more, so move on. It's a good job I don't have anyone nagging me, ha ha.

You can apply the chipping away solution to almost anything you need to do, even with stuff you like doing. If you take on a big project that is going to take up a lot of time and energy, you can still get the desired result by chipping away at it. If it is very important that you finish the project, but it feels like you have a mountain to climb, break it up into smaller chunks. If you keep slogging on with something it is very easy to get sick of it and you are more likely to fail. It doesn't matter how long it takes you to get there, as long as you do get there. So have a break and go back to it.

Take weight control for example, I don't believe in short term faddy diets, what you need to do is think long term. I don't need to go on a diet, because I eat healthily most of the time. I keep chipping away at it. I know that I am in this for life, not next week or for a few months. Each day I make myself eat something which is good for me. I get on the cross trainer at regular intervals, I don't flog myself to death on it, I try and aim for ten minutes every hour. Keep chipping away at it to keep my body in some sort of order.

It's the same with a sewing or crafting project, 625 squares to hand sew on the quilt. Pick it up when I have a few minutes to spare, fit it in around other jobs that I am chipping away at.

If I go for a long walk, 150 miles to do sounds like a nightmare, but it isn't, it's only eight days. I keep chipping away at it, day by day. 18 to 20 miles in one day, break it up into two miles an hour, maybe three miles an hour, four hours twelve miles, it doesn't take long, it soon adds up.

Think about a job you are struggling with, put it down and go back to it. It will sort itself out eventually if you keep chipping away at it.

I don't have any debt, but it didn't come easy, I have worked hard to live within my means. I had to spend money on my first house, it needed a lot of jobs doing. It was an old terraced house, dry rot, wet rot, electrical rewire, new concrete floors in two rooms, it cost a fortune and I couldn't afford to get it all done at once. I kept chipping away at it, lived in a grim shell for a while, and saved up and got the jobs done when I could afford it. Similar in the second house. I borrowed three grand from a very good friend for the new windows and doors because the old wooden ones were in danger of falling out. It was a debt that I kept chipping away at. I trickled money into his bank account and paid it off. No lavish spending on going out at that time, it was work work work.

Talking of work. You have probably heard this before, but my answer to those who kept telling me I shouldn't be doing the job, that I was taking it off a man, and I should be at the kitchen sink, was to turn up at work each morning and get on with it. I kept chipping away at it. I broke it up into daily chunks, six days was a week, YAY, I've beat the bullies for another week, I've stuck it out and I'm still here. Then the weeks went into months, and years.

The more you do something the better you get at it. If a task is daunting take little steps. Do a bit at a time. If you are not in the mood, leave it and go back to it. If you really want to do something you will do it. If you don't, move on to something else. Wanting to do it is the key. Give yourself a fair chance, try your best, think where you want to be in the long term, and keep chipping away at it.
Toodle pip


  1. What an inspiring post, Ilona. I have a very similar attitude to jobs big and small-keep working away at them and they do eventually get done. I am decluttering before winter sets in and I actually set the timer for an hour and then move on-that way I don't end up keeping/throwing out stuff because I am fed up with the task. I can smell the veg in the Remoska, so they must be nearly ready-bye for now. Catriona

  2. As someone whos plodded on in a male dominated profession for years i know what you mean. It just gets my goat every time someone says im a not a "team player" Sorry lads paintballing really isnt my idea of fun and the Lap Dancing Club and xmas meal isnt my idea of fun either .....

  3. I like the idea of chipping away too Ilona. For three years we've chipped away at £25,000 of debt, bit by bit, throwing every spare penny at it and continually finding new ways of saving money - making do and mending, recycling, doing without, learning to repair things, savvy shopping and bargain hunting (think I'm the yellow sticker queen!). The more ways we find of saving money, the quicker the debt has reduced. Three years later, we're almost there. Never give up, just keep plodding on and you'll get there in the end. When we were first married, I remember saying to my Auntie how much of a struggle it was to set up home and pay the mortgage. She always used to say "Rome wasn't built in a day" and it really helped me. Too many people expect instant results these days.

  4. Very sound advice.
    Love from Mum

  5. That's good advice: very few people follow this method & end up unhappy or feeling like they fail at something. For me, I have a nice paper shredder: when the bills come, in they go—that machine chips away at them nicely! But seriously, people can't believe how I live within my means, as I have so little income and basically avoid debt. When it come to projects though, it is very difficult for me to break them into smaller parts, as it weighs on me that these things have to be done. When I do accomplish this though, it works out grand & saves a good deal of stress & energy. It's a matter of getting in the habit of doing it.

  6. I do get overwhelmed regarding housework, even though I have a tiny house and don't own many "things." I try to keep picking away at it, in small areas and small amounts of time, but it is almost always easier to do something else instead - and there are loads of other tasks that also need doing, so housework takes a back seat most of the time. Can't say I feel good about it , though. :(

  7. yep, I agree. Just break it down. I do that with jobs which I don't like or that I know will take a long time.

  8. From Margie in Toronto: I do this too Ilona - especially for housework or major projects like decluttering & downsizing what I own. I often set the timer and work away until the alarm goes off. Then I get to read a couple of chapters in my book or watch one tv program. Then it's back to the timer and another round of work. I also find that doing something for the first 45 minutes that I get home from the office also lets me work my way through bigger tasks. I just get stuck in right away - if I sit down I'll never get aroung to things despite best intentions so I find this works best for me.

  9. I so agree with you Ilona, thank you for all your posts, your are so inspirational.
    I have used this baby steps method for a long time now and it helps my day be productive and interesting. I needed reinforcement of this at the moment and your post is so timely.
    So many things demanding attention and now at this time of the year time flies even faster I find. The only way I can deal with all that there is to do, is to split tasks up into chunks and be positive about what I have achieved and not beat myself up for what I have not done.
    Pam in TX.xx

  10. Excellent advice, a job is never as big as you think it is especially when you chip away at it like this. Now ... I must go and chip away at that chocolate bar that's lurking in my cupboard ...

  11. Oh you are so right. I have a large garden which I sometimes overwhelms me. I give myself daily mini goals to tidy a very small area, it only takes an hour, often less. It is not Chelsea standard but it's basically neat and tidy. I also clean the bathroom whenever I am visiting it. I will just do a quick wipe here and a bit of a scrub there, by then end of the day it is usually spotless. I guess it's the same as money saving - save a few pennies every day and by the end of the month you've saved pounds. Debbie.

  12. I do get bogged down with things like housework as I've only a small house and very little storage. I wonder if I could apply that rule to decorating, as has not been decorated in years. Maybe I could try a wall at a time?

  13. Totally inspiring Ilona
    Wendy (Wales)

  14. This is one of my favorites posts of yours! In fact, I am going to print it out and hang it up on my bulletin board to remind myself.
    Thanks, Ilona.
    Nancy from Northern California

  15. well you sure gave us some good advice, this is my first visit here and i have been reading past posts, I enjoyed your rant!!

  16. I don't think 'chipping' would work for me, i'd never get anything finished.
    I quite like cleaning or gardening, i used to have a small gardening round and i got a great feeling of satisfaction because i could see something for my effort, unlike driving where no one is pleased to see you.
    Debt/money management comes easy to me - i'm a skinflint.
    When you were being accused of taking a mans job, when you get a group of workers, they like to have something to moan about. I get plenty of the cold shoulder on the agency driving jobs so things haven't changed much.

  17. Taking it off a man indeed, did people really say that? What a load of codswallop. Pooh them, I bet you were fabulous.


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