Due to the fact that I work in front of a computer all day, I love doing yard work on the weekends. There's nothing that feels more natural, or more manly, then working up a sweat and getting dirty.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to clear a few stumps from our garden. I love pulling out stumps. It's a combination of physical power and cunning strategy. While I was going about my business on Saturday, I got to thinking that all my projects are like pulling stumps.

The prep

First off, you can't just simply start hacking away. A successful, efficient stump removal requires a little digging around the problem area, to get a better idea at what the job requires. And what kind of design or informational project doesn't require the same treatment?

Identify the roots

If you've pulled out a stump before, you know that the key is the roots. If you've done a little digging around the stump and just start reefing away, push and pull the stump all you will, you will not find success. You have to get under and around the stump, to identify its sources of strength. Then you attack.

Pushing and pulling from the beginning is treating the symptom, not the problem. Find the roots in your projects and make sure you're solving the right problem.

Don't be afraid to get dirty

Or sweaty. Or looking funny while you're at work. Produce great results and people won't care how you looked in the process. Once you've cut off the roots, you've solved the issue but a lot of clean up remains. A tree stump is a little like an iceberg — some of those roots go a lot further down or further across the ground than you would think. This is where the sweat and dirt really start to build up.

Get your hands dirty and follow those roots all the way.

Be thorough

When you pull out a stump, most trees will be good and dead at this point. But there are a few varieties that can regrow from a small bit of root you missed in the process. Be diligent in making sure you've gotten the bits and pieces you've dug about and spread around the yard in your enthusiasm as you connect with nature.

The same goes for your digital projects. Some times it's so easy to get over the main hurdle of a project and then want to move on to the next project. I mean, working on the same item for a period of time gets boring. The urge to work on something new is strong. But sometimes the difference between getting a project finished and actually nailing the project is made in cleaning up the little bits and pieces near the end.

Be thorough. A lesson I'm still learning.