A few days back, I opened the box on my desk into which I'd stuffed various bits of paper and other gadgets when my boyfriend and I were preparing to move house last month. There was nothing time-sensitive in the box, but much of the stuff in there required some sort of effort on my part: reviewing, deciding on, filing, following up on, etc.
So I did the obvious thing: I closed the box again, pronto.
And I could very easily have left it that way. Since there were no bills to pay in the box, I wouldn't have run into overdue fees by ignoring the contents for a few more weeks. No one was waiting for me to do anything with what was in the box, so there'd be no angry phone calls or emails if I continued to delay. Really, the only person who'd be affected in any way by my not dealing with the box was...me.
So how did it happen that, with a sigh, I reopened the box and grabbed a chunk of stuff from it to deal with once and for all? Because I realized that even if I wasn't accountable to anyone else for delving into the box, continuing to put off that process would mean that every time I looked at the box, I'd feel a pang of guilt and "I should" at the fact that I'd been ignoring it. Every time I happened to think about the box, I'd feel one of those mental tugs--you know the kind: your brain's not-so-subtle way of reminding you that something needs your attention. Those pangs and tugs, they quickly add up to stress and wasted time spent thinking about (and regretting) not doing something, instead of just doing it.
It's kind of like what happens on those days when I promise myself I'll exercise and then don't: the resultant stew of fidgeting, feeling guilty, trying to make up for missing a run or a workout by cobbling together other forms of movement, usually in the most inefficient way (think 15 trips to the bedroom to put away laundry when normally one would do the trick), and chatter in my brain ("Hey! Weren't you going to exercise today? Did you forget that today was an exercise day? Do you need me to ask you again in another 5 minutes?!") is often so exhausting and crazy-making that it takes more effort and energy than I would have expended by just exercising.
What Will You Tackle?
I cried uncle and dealt with the box, and though, to be honest, it was a pain in the butt to work through the stuff in it, and ate up a weekend hour I would've much rather spent doing pretty much anything else, I was ultimately glad I did it. I no longer have to think about the box, and my brain is no longer keeping "deal with box" on its Remind Emily About These Tasks list. A clearer head and a bit less stress everyday are worth the time and effort it took.
So what's on your to do list that's causing pings and tugs? What can you do this week to tackle that task so it stops being a mental drain or a source of stress? If it's a big project, don't go overboard trying to finish it in one fell swoop; what matters is that you take a few concrete steps to move it closer to being done.
What will you apply "Do It Now" to this week? Share what you're committing to (and your success stories) on The Organized Life Facebook page.