Hard Work

by Sarah on March 21, 2013

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This morning, I circled through our maple grove, collecting sap buckets. It took me quite a few trips carrying 5-gallon buckets to transfer the delicately sweet water to our larger collection barrels standing in the shade of the house.

Once the sap was collected, I turned my attention to the chickens. I gave the injured hen in the barn fresh water and feed. Added some more shavings to the deep bedding in the coop, gave them some bread and veggie scraps we collected from a local pizza place/bakery and replenished the water, drawing icy water from the collection bucket we keep near the house.

The chickens tended, the sap collected, a bucket of wood brought inside – finally I was ready to get work with my writing.

As the day wears on, I’ll take breaks to wash the dishes, get some more wood and eventually make dinner.

In my book it’s all part of running a healthy – nay, thriving – home business.

Because here’s the dirty little secret many productivity experts don’t know about - in fact warn against . . .

Getting your hands dirty with some manual labor is a invaluable part of making your home business strong. It keeps your mind sharp and creative. And it fuels your vitality. It keeps you sane and capable.

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Many business gurus – including ones I greatly respect – advise you to hire a housekeeper or yard maintenance company so you’ll be freed up to work on your business.

But when you work – not just exercise – but work, you develop your creativity, gain better focus and – in the long run-  maintain your health. All of these help you build your business successfully.

We’ve become a society always looking for conveniences – aps and appliances to do things for us, to take care of “unimportant” work. But what we lose with this obsession is the satisfaction, problem-solving skills and unique mental engagement physical work brings.

When you work with your hands something particular happens . . .

When You Do Physical Work . . .

You engage your body – you’re physically engaged. Not just your fingers tapping and your eyes moving . . . Your whole body is awake. The blood is flowing. And unlike the more routine exercise of running or weights or biking, most yardcare tasks or housecleaning jobs require that you engage a variety of muscles to balance and lift. You usually move in a more complicated and variegated way than your standard workout allows.

It’s been interesting to me to see how more and more gyms and high-performance training programs have people doing the kind of activities we do all the time on the farm – swinging sledge hammers (like the maul I split wood with), carrying heavy weights around and up and down stairs, swinging ropes, pushing big tires end over end, etc. Even free weights has had a resurgence over weight machines.

The reason they’ve switched to these modes of “working out” is that these forms of activity require your body to figure things out more, constantly shifting and adjusting to the task. Small, overlooked muscles are engaged, your nerves are fired up as you have to coordinate your movement.

It’s the best form of muscle workout you can have.

When You Do Physical Work . . .

You turn off your internal editor allowing some real genius to peek through.

When you’re busy managing an hands-on task, your conscious mind is preoccupied just enough that its tendency to edit deeper thoughts gets hobbled. At the same time, most household tasks are not mentally-demanding enough to absorb all your mental energy – like writing this article is.

Consequently, deep, creative thinking that’s been pushed down by your conscious awareness starts to percolate up. When you combine this phenomenon with the time and space you’ve given yourself to muse (because you’re busy with something other than working at the computer) these thoughts have time to work their way up to the top where – whoa! you’ll have amazing revelations.

I’m always surprised at the solutions I find for a particularly challenging writing project or client management problem when I’m hanging laundry on the line or splitting wood. 


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When You Do Physical Work . . .

You nourish your confidence in your ability to get things done successfully.

As much as we live and work in a virtual world, we’re still physical creatures impressed by tangible results. Sometimes it’s difficult to feel a sense of progress and see results in your online work. When you clean a room or mulch a garden bed properly you have a very deep feeling of satisfaction that can transfer into your confidence about your home business.

Now some people would advise you not to distract yourself with household chores when you’ve got to stay focused on your business and not get discouraged. And to some extent, they’re right. A clean sink can be such a satisfying tangible alternative to the abstract results in your Google analytics report that you may find yourself scrubbing all day when you do need to get some work done.

However, on numerous occasions when I’ve felt stumped or frustrated, if I take a break and get something else done, I come back recharged. And usually – thanks to the phenomenon I mentioned above – with some new insights in how to approach my business.

When You Do Physical Work . . .

You challenge and take care of yourself in a complete and wholesome way. You are not just a brain and a picture on Facebook. You’re a person, an organism with many needs, experiences and abilities. Developing your ability to care for yourself and your family in more than just dollars is an art that is quickly being lost in the online world.

In fact, at the risk of you panning me as just another crazy doomsday prepper, let me add this warning:

Right now, most of us home business folks are capitalizing on a unique time when we can accomplish huge amounts just with a computer and some communication skills. Our businesses and our lives are increasingly becoming dependent on this infrastructure.

Now I expect with all the vested interests in the survival of the internet, that if something should go wrong, it will quickly be fixed or at least eventually.

But any person who studies history knows how foolish it is to put all your eggs in one basket. From the Irish potato famine to the Titanic we can see examples where people count too much on one innovation and find themselves in dire straights when it fails.

By developing skills to take care of yourself and your family in the physical, real world, you safeguard yourself no matter what comes. For some of us this may start with learning to cook a meal. In other cases it may be planting a garden or learning how to fix things around the house. Whatever area you decide to start getting your hands dirty doesn’t matter.

But bottom line, don’t break all ties with the real world. Strengthen them.

Build your mastery in the physical world. As my wise husband says, “Reality doesn’t like to be ignored. At some point it will come back to bite you with a vengeance.”

When you learn to integrate physical work into your day, you’re truly becoming a master at life. You’ll gain skills, wisdom, problem-solving insights that you just can’t get by only using your intellect. And interestingly enough – when you build your capacity in the physical world, you’ll find you have more and more to apply in building your business as well.

A provocative bit of advice – what do you think? Have you experienced this when doing work around the house? Please share your take on this.


my pic YHHB edited 1 150x150 Hard WorkSarah Clachar has built a thriving health copywriting business from scratch while being a mom . . . nurturing a strong marriage . . . and running a small homestead farm. Along with a BA in biology, she’s got two decades of experience teaching and researching about natural health. Her articles have been published in Life Extension Magazine, Health, Mothering, A Taste For Life, Nutrition Business Journal, and Natural Foods Merchandiser.

Over the years, she became keenly aware how important strategically working to maintain her health was for her business. And even more importantly, how good health factored into enjoying the rewards of having a successful business.

At Your Healthy Home Biz, Sarah has combined her expertise in health and her experience running a freelance health copywriting business into a special resource for home biz owners, freelancers and solopreneurs. Your Healthy Home Biz provides inspiration and a system for transforming your workday so you can run your home business without running yourself into the ground.

Want More Details On How To Energize And Transform Your Work Day? Sarah’s created a FREE report just for you: The Simplest Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Business, Your Waistline And Your Life. Go get your copy now!

Are you a writer, too? Check out the Make A Living Writing Link party where I’ve shared this post with other writers.

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  • http://twitter.com/DeidreMSimpson Deidre M. Simpson

    Thank you for saying this, Sarah. It’s something I knew but never voiced. I always discover ideas when doing physical or mental work that doesn’t relate to the job. It wasn’t ‘just me’.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.clachar Sarah Clachar

      Deidre, glad it spoke to you – it certainly isn’t just you! Many say genius is about making connections in new ways. When we step away from our immediate and conscious task, we often tap into our genius. Thank you for commenting.

  • http://twitter.com/TiceWrites Carol Tice

    Wow, sounds like you’re jugging a lot, Sarah!

    I’m a big believer in hard work too. We have .6 of an acre and I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of my compost delivery so I can start wheelbarrowing dirt and shoveling — I find that tires me out real well, and gives me abs that writing never will! ;-)

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