Getting the Daunting Done

Ahh. It is finally over. I finally finished what was easily the most tedious job on the house to date. For some God only knows reason one of the previous owners had decided that it would be an awesome idea to paint the beautiful, original, texture rich limestone mantle in the living room gray. I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t limestone already kinda gray? Believe me, I know. While I am sure they thought this was an excellent idea and undoubtedly patted themselves on the back for this one, I wanted to go back in time and try and shake some sense into them.

Something that I became very well acquainted with in the hours and hours that I spent undoing this misguided action was exactly how porous limestone is. Limestone is essentially composed of the skeletal remains of prehistoric sea organisms that accumulated on the ocean floor over millennia. This creates a texture that is complex and includes many distinguishable fossils. This also means that, once painted, it will never be quite the same. I, however, was determined to get as close as I could get.

After applying Peel Away, I spent hour upon hour with a small pick and a soft metal brush scrubbing each and every nook and cranny. Gallons and gallons of water were involved; which was terrifying because I was doing this in the living room surrounded by lovely parquet floors. I bought a couple bags of towels from the Salvation Army and just did the best I could to keep everything sopped up. Scrub, spray, scrub, spray. In total I would say that I spent about 25 hours becoming very familiar with every little detail on that thing.

I am not going to lie and say this was fun, or that I enjoyed this process on any level. But, it had to be done. The trouble is staying motivated when confronted with these tasks. The ones that seem like they will never end. Where you spend hour after hour and feel like you have gotten nowhere. I had to learn a few tricks through all of this to keep me at it and see it to the end.

Set bite-size goals: While yes, in the end, you have to get the whole thing done, don’t think about that when you are actually working on it. Set a goal for the day and only focus on getting that done. For this project, that goal may have only been a couple square feet. But at the end of the day, I could step back and see real progress and feel like I accomplished something.

Have a vision of the end result: This may seem a little contradictory to the point above but bear with me. One thing that I find really drives me is having a picture in my head of what things will be like when I am done. Having a vision that I want to fulfill. I keep working because I anticipate that moment when I get to step back and feel proud about what I have done. Think about that feeling and know that once it is finished you won’t ever have to do it again.

Stay distracted: The last trick is to not think about it at all. Listen to a podcast, or radio, or audio book (it was Frank Herbert’s Dune for me on this one), or whatever it is you enjoy. Hell, sometimes I even just turn it all off and get lost in my own thoughts. Just get your head out of the tedium of the task and find something you can enjoy to help the hours pass.

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget pictures. Check out the before and after below and let me know if you have any tricks that you use to stay on task and finish daunting projects.

  • Before
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