Thursday, July 31, 2014

Haste makes waste - so take your time

The other day I talked about the importance of fixing problems instead of their symptoms, and in my example of how to do that I explained how I ditched some organizational work in favour of things I actually enjoy.

Today, confusingly, I want to talk about the importance of investing time in administrative tasks that chew up your playtime.  I know, I know: life is so complicated.

Here's a scenario I really hope doesn't ring any bells for you at all, but happens to me all the time with my glasses, which I will not use in said scenario because it's too painful and anyway, not everybody wears them.

1. Having a fixed place to put your housekeys means that every time you go out of the house, you can just pick them up and go.

2. Being in a hurry and dumping stuff in the place you usually put your housekeys means that you'll lose time looking for them because they're not easy to spot right away.  They might be under that pile of mail, or they might have slipped off the pile of mail onto the floor, or you might have put them somewhere else entirely because that happens sometimes, and then after ten minutes of increasing panic you find them on top of the pile of mail, totally hidden amongst the colours of the printed fliers, and unnoticed by you when you picked the whole stack up to look below it.

Add up that time over a week or a month and wow: you could have done something really fun with it.

And if you put just a scrap of that time toward making sure your space is organized so it never happens again, you'd still be able to do something fun.

Making the effort to tidy up hardly seems like real advice, does it. 

I mean, I remember reading a whole article once on how to clean your kitchen sink and why you should do it and the whole time I thought: Seriously?  but the bottom line was that no matter how lousy the rest of your kitchen looks, a clean sink just feels good.  And that stuck with me so successfully that now when I look at the kitchen and think Ew, I shake some baking soda into the sink and scrub out the tea stains.  It's surprisingly effective at making me think the whole room is clean and it's so quick, I can do it while I'm waiting for the kettle to boil for still more tea.

My point is, even a simple, obvious tip like keeping your workspace clean has value.

Especially because this same tip applies to bigger things than a spot for your housekeys... like issues that tangle up your feelings.  Maybe you need to redefine your goals, or sit down with a friend or relative who's struggling or upset, or figure out why something that's bugging you really gets under your skin.

Haste makes waste - so when you spot a roadblock in your day, set aside some time to smooth it over rather than rushing around it every day or pushing through with a half-considered solution.  That way lies More Problems To Come, and nobody wants that.

Oh, and if the trouble you're having really is just the place where you leave your keys?  Book off a few minutes specifically for straightening up and making sure all your essentials have a set place to be, and make it fun with music or an audiobook or a cup of tea you cart around with you for the duration.  Don't take that job on when you're tired or hungry because life is short, and a lot more of it can be good if you let it.

See you tomorrow!

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