When little things add up…

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what can you can do today.” 
Benjamin Franklin

I used to hate this quote. It bothered me in a way I can’t quite describe, but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of guilt and pressure and frustration (why, oh why can’t I just friggin’ do things when they make the most sense?). But…but.

Over the past few months, I’ve started to revise my views. I have, dare I say it, reversed my opinion on this matter. But let me explain. (It will all make more sense then.)

My only New Year’s Resolution for 2015 was to get my work email under control. I’m notoriously bad at email management. At work, my inbox is so big (even with the IT department’s policy of deleting all messages after a year) that I’ve crashed Outlook before. Every time I decided to take it in hand, I’d get so overwhelmed that I’d stop almost immediately. But when I returned from my holiday vacation, I took a new tack. I moved all the 2014 messages from my inbox into a separate folder and then vowed to keep my inbox clear. Two months in, and I take an inflated sense of accomplishment from keeping my inbox confined to one screen — I deal with things as they come in, and then I move on. It’s great. (Yes, I know this is a normal thing for other people. But the change. Oh man, the change. I feel so powerful.)

Similarly, I recently undertook a massive (and much-needed) deep clean of my apartment. I’m not a hoarder, but I’m lazy and hate cleaning — and I have a high threshold for clutter and scuzz. Let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty. So it took a very important visitor whom I desperately wanted to impress to light a fire under me. After a few weekends spent doing nothing other than cleaning, organizing, decluttering, and otherwise making things look nice and neat, my guest came and left, and I had two thoughts: (1) It’s really nice to have everything clean and picked up, and (2) I never want to do that again. So I started putting things back where they belong right away, wiping surfaces down regularly, sweeping the floor even when I couldn’t see piles of cat hair. And it’s was the most amazing thing: I feel so accomplished. So satisfied. I’m almost starting to like cleaning. Unimaginable, but true.

So after 32 years, I finally get what old Ben F. was on about. I take care of things as they arise, and I don’t wake up each morning stifled by the specter of a long to-do list. Things I used to hate, things I used to avoid (because, clearly, they would go away if I ignored them, right?) started to lose their power. And the strangest thing of all is that I found them immensely satisfying. Empowering, even.

I won’t go so far as to say that it’s the key to happiness (because, really, there is no one key that I’ve found), but it certainly doesn’t hurt.


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