The task was overwhelming. Thanksgiving dinner was completed leaving all of us full and sleepy. Family members mysteriously disappeared with “important things to do” leaving Mom and me to clean up. She sighed, scooted back her chair to cross her legs and lit up a cigarette. My gaze followed hers as she scanned the damage. Twelve years old, I could think of better things to do on a holiday but had no ready excuse.
Where to begin? Every inch of counter top was covered with dirty dishes. The sink was overfilled. Our good holiday china needed replaced high up in the cupboard. The refrigerator was already stuffed and we needed to cram in yet more.
“Mom, what do you want me to do first?”
She shook her head, studying her cigarette. After a moment’s reflection, she suddenly suggested, as if divinely inspired. “Let’s each just pick up a dish.”
“What do you mean?”
“We will each pick up a dish and take it where it needs to go. That will lead to picking up another dish. If we keep picking up the next dish, we will eventually get it all done.”
How silly! I grabbed a plate and headed to the sink. To make room, I stacked cooking pans over on the stove. Before stacking them I needed to pour in water to soak off the debris. To get to the faucet, I gathered drinking glasses and silverware from the sink. The silverware was tossed into the soaking cook pots. Glasses went on the only open spot I could find, the window sill. I poured in fresh dishwater and added the plate. Then another plate and cup. Soon I was filling the dish rack with clean dishes, making countertop room for more. Next I knew, the kitchen was clean, dishes stored, and all was in order.
It worked! Just pick up a dish. I’ve since used this advice for many an overwhelming day at home or the office. When I pick up one dish to wash, one item to handle, one folder to file, one email to respond to, one client to call, one phone call to make, I overcome inertia and propel my energy forward. This avoids the usual agony of anticipating the overwhelming burden of things to do. Anyone can take just one step forward. Once you do, that momentum moves you to the next project. As I follow this strategy, I accomplish more in less time. It removes my “attachment” to what needs to be done or how long it will take, shifting my action into a steady flow. Once in the flow, I relax and go along for the ride. Somewhere along the line I look with amazement at how much I’ve accomplished. This works great with children’s rooms, garage purging, and spring housecleaning (if anyone out there does this anymore?)
Don’t think about this too much. Don’t analyze it in light of the books you’ve read on time management or organization. I’ve taught those classes! They have their proper place when working within organizations. I’m talking here about personal productivity in the privacy of your own office, garage, kitchen or workspace.
My last piece of advice? Somewhere among the “dishes” you pick up, be sure to fill one with yummy ice cream.
Ellie Note: Any Video’s inserted below this article are advertisements by WordPress which support their free blogs, and I have no control over what they choose. They do not represent me or my works. Thanks!