Monday, February 23, 2009

A timely day

Busy, busy, busy! I had a huge (actually not really, but it seemed that way) agenda of things to do today, and all I really wanted to do was sit and knit. I got up, had my morning tea, read the paper, and then made myself some toast. The toast takes four minutes and forty-four seconds to toast nicely. Normally, I go play a hand of Spider Solitaire or read my email while it is cooking. Today, I decided not to waste time on that, but to try to make myself a little window of knitting time, so I started a load of laundry, took out my recycling, and put the liner in the garbage can – an incredibly minor but icky task that I had been putting off for days. I finally had something gooey to put throw away, so I could delay no longer. I was amazed at how much I got done in that tiny bit of time. This is a lesson I have never really learned – Just do the thing and get it over with, rather than fret about it not being done. Fretting is my usual tactic. Then when I finally do the task, I can’t believe that I wasted all that energy worrying about it instead of just doing it. No doubt I never really will really take this to heart. I had been looking at the dustbin for three days, and brooding because there was no liner and I couldn’t throw anything out. What a waste of energy that fretting had been. Sometimes knowing how long things actually take is a very helpful motivator. I usually water my plants on specific days, and it always seems like a big deal when the time comes, so I put it off. I timed myself once while my tea was heating in the microwave, and it took less than two minutes. Once I knew this, it seemed like much less of a job. When I was married, we went camping frequently, and there were always reasons why I, and not my husband, was the one who set up the tent. I was resentful of this, and complained about it. “But you are so good at it, and I’m not,” was his sly reply. “Let’s see how long it actually takes you.” I had imagined that it took at least half an hour, but we set the tent up in the yard, and he timed me. It was less than three minutes! Resentment dissolved. He didn’t like to do it and I didn’t really mind, and who is going to complain about something that only takes only three minutes and happens rather infrequently. Another valuable tactic for the incurable procrastinator –that would be me - with a really big unpleasant task (like cleaning a basement, for example), is to say to myself, “I will work on this for one hour.” That is not too much time even for something as foreboding as a dirty basement. Two things generally happen. You get an amazing amount done in an hour of work, and enthusiasm for the task sometimes develops and you go on beyond the allotted hour. And you feel good about having for once, not procrastinated!
After I finished my whirlwind laundry/dustbin tasks, I discovered that four minutes and forty-four seconds was the exact amount of time it took Maria to gobble up the cheese I had gotten out to put on my toast. What a cat! She truly understands time management and the importance of not delaying when there is something to be done!

1 comment:

Knitman said...

my dogs can be like your cats too. i spent the last hour or so debating on whether or not to got out to a meeting I sometimes attend. It is 35 miles away and I decided it was too much to do today after everything else I have done/.