Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.
As many of you know I have limited my activities this week by avoiding negative meetings, e-mails and the like. As I suspected this not only resulted in my staying in a positive frame of mind, it also provided more time to deal with the things that I have in backlog — mostly notes and other documents that clutter up my desk, the floor around me and the many shelves in my office den.
Great news, right? Wrong! I again found during my mini-sabbatical that my interests greatly exceed my ability to follow them all. My ability to procrastinate coupled with my failure to ruthlessly prioritize have left me with piles of things that have aged to the point of uselessness.
In my business life I had the good fortune of having colleagues that would join me as I attacked the stacks that had accumulated. They made sure I handled everything in the stacks of paper by throwing away things that I would never get to resulting in my ending up with a small pile of things I had to do soon and a slightly larger pile of things worth doing. Since these good people are long gone I plan on calling on my imaginary friend to sit with me and insist on my doing as I use to do, junk the unimportant, focus on what needs to be done and then rewarding myself with a manageable pile of things that should be done.
Besides thinking about my dilemma I decided to see what others offered as solutions. In the process I found this suggestion from author Tim Clark that I think has value.
Do First What You Want to Do Least
Ever have trouble deciding what to do first each day, and why?
Setting priorities — a cornerstone of achievement — had always been a struggle for me until I came up with a new policy a few years ago. Do First What You Want to Do Least.
The logic is simple: What we most dread doing is usually the thing we should do soonest.
What do you want to do least today? Apologize to your spouse? Write that report? Make an appointment for that colonoscopy? Well, do it first thing in the morning, and watch your productivity soar.
For example, some years ago it became obvious that I needed to start exercising regularly if I wanted to maintain my health. I pushed through the dread and started going to a gym, but that meant time-consuming daytime commutes, two showers on gym days — and spending money.
About a year later, I realized that exercise, as the most crucial foundation of health besides diet, was, quite literally, the most important thing for me to do each day. So I switched to a daily, at-home regimen, instead of three-times-a-week at the gym.
Now I exercise first thing each weekday morning, in the comfort of home, while watching the news. It costs nothing, no travel’s needed, and I take only one shower a day. And the habit’s so ingrained now that I no longer dread it — though I love taking weekends off from my regimen.
Being one of the world’s greatest procrastinators I find it way too easy to put off things I don’t like to do. A prime example is balancing my personal checking account. Sometimes the statements sit for a month or two awaiting my attention. When the do finally reach the point where they are starting to crumble with age I deal with them. It usually only takes me a short time to do the job and I find that their resulting absence provides pleasure. So I really relate to Clark’s suggestion. If I reconcile my statements as soon as I get them I’ll have the dual reward of the satisfaction that they won’t haunt me day after day and that I can move on almost immediately from an unpleasant task to a pleasant on in a manner of minutes. I am so excited about my discovery that I am going to open my statements soon, well as soon as I get this other stuff out of the way. Oh no, there I go again.
Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible.
George Claude Lorimer
"Twas the night before school started,
When all through the town,
The parents were cheering,
It was a riotous sound.
By eight p.m. the kids were washed,
And snugly tucked into bed,
When memories of homework
Filled them with dread.
New pencils, new folders,
New notebooks too,
New teachers, new friends,
Their anxiety grew.
The parents recited comforting words
To ease their children’s fright,
Then calmly instructed the tiny tots,
"Get back to bed now, it’s a school night!"
"The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense."
Little Johnny came into the house with a new harmonica.
"Grandpa, do you mind if I play this in here?"
"Of course not, Johnny. I love music. In fact, when your grandma and I were young, music saved my life."
"What happened?" "Well, it was during the famous Johnstown flood. The dam broke and when the water hit out house it knocked it right off the foundation. Grandma got on the dining room table and floated out safely."
"How about you?"
"Me? I accompanied her on the piano!"
"Never trust your tongue when your heart is bitter."
Samuel J. Hurwitt
A kind-hearted fellow was walking through Central Park in New York and was astonished to see an old man, fishing rod in hand, fishing over a beautiful bed of lilies.
"Tch, Tch!" said the passerby to himself. "What a sad sight. That poor old man is fishing over a bed of flowers. I’ll see if I can help."
So the kind fellow walked up to the old man and asked, "What are you doing, my friend?"
"Fishin’, eh. Well how would you like to come have a drink with me?"
The old man stood up, put his rod away and followed the kind stranger to the corner bar. He ordered a large glass of beer and a fine cigar.
His host, the kind fellow, felt good about helping the old man, and he asked, "Tell me, old friend, how many did you catch this morning?"
The old fellow took a long drag on the cigar, blew a careful smoke ring and replied, "You are the 6th today, sir!"
"It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper."
An unmarried girl who worked in a busy office arrived one morning and began passing out big cigars and candy, both tied with blue ribbons. When asked what the occasion was, she proudly displayed a new diamond solitaire ring on her third finger, left hand, and announced…"It’s a boy, six feet tall and 190 pounds!"
Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness, and small obligations win and preserve the heart.
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
Management is not responsible for duplicates from previous dailies.
The editor is somewhat senile.
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