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Learning from Shoveling the Yard

danieluhl profile image Typing Turtle ・2 min read

Shoveling Sucks

Living in the northeast shoveling driveways is a known pain. This year I got a small electric snowblower which helped a bit but it's always been a chore. My back aches after, it's cold and wet and often early in the morning so we can get the car out for the day.

I need a sledding hill!

This year due to travel restrictions it didn't make much sense to take our usual winter vacation out of state. I have a 1yo boy and I wanted to introduce him to sledding. Local tubing places have height restrictions he does not meet.

After much research I looked out the window and realized I have a pretty good slope in my yard. Just need to pile up some snow. So I took an afternoon and built a curving path with walls so you don't fly out and a big wall at the end to catch you. It was awesome. The baby giggled the whole way down. We spent the next two weeks tubing every day!

Wait, shoveling is awesome?

Only in later reflection did it hit me: the activity of shoveling in the yard was physically the same as shoveling the driveway, but my mental state was profoundly different. I actually enjoyed it. How could this be? And, if I can deconstruct this phenomenon, could I enjoy shoveling the yard just as much? Or even expand this to apply to other chores I dislike?

Key differences


  • Needs to be done (no autonomy)
  • Known solution (no creativity)
  • Same every year (no variety)
  • Result is restored ability to drive the car


  • I had the idea
  • I decided how to form the hill
  • I did the work on my time
  • I planned out each phase, got creative with the process
  • Result is something both I and others enjoy

Shifting State of Mind

If something is boring, turn it into a game. Maybe next time I'll try to get all the snow in one area and build an igloo.

When my wife pesters me to go shovel I shouldn't take this as a burden, but as a sign of how grateful she is that I'm around to take care of these sorts of tasks. I'm much happier when I'm doing something that I know others will enjoy.

Discussion (1)

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jakeadorn profile image
jakeadorn • Edited

If you want to clean your garden from leaves, shoveling is not the best idea, you just spend a lot of time, and energy on it. I bought recently a good leaf blower, and I can tell you it's something else. It's easy to use, and you can clean your garden in like 5 minutes. I mean this is my opinion obviously, so you don't have to listen to it. If you like to shovel the leaves it's your choice. But I really advise you to reconsider your opinion, if you want to be more productive. Wish everyone a nice day.