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If only life acted like Outlook

Submitted by on Wednesday, 25 February 2009 No Comment

stressedDid you ever wish clearing personal clutter were as simple as cleaning out your inbox every morning? Just click, make it go “poof” and send it to another folder where it can’t cause stress.

FDA hits Indian drug plant? Don’t have time to care right now. Deleted items.

Decriminalizing marijuana as financial salvation? Interesting, but later. Save the link in an ongoing file of “interesting, but later” stuff.

Oatmeal cookies with dried apricots and white chocolate? Move email to “cookies to try” folder.

Chicken chilaquiles? Some day when Big Guy develops taste buds. Move email to the “quick meals” folder.

Recommendation for a former colleague. Yikes! This goes to the “to do today” folder that has items dating back a month.

When the sorting system inevitably fails, you can simply delete everything and start over. You might lose links to a few interesting projects but face reality: You were never going to get around to them anyway.

Problem is, life doesn’t function that way. The decisions are much tougher when they involve real human beings instead of electronic messages.

Once in a while, you can kill file a few things and forget them forever. You’ll realize you’re continuing to do something that’s easily expendable – cards for Big Guy’s lunch box, you gotta go – and you can stop doing it.

There are some tasks that can be delayed, which is why the mountain of clothes is mounting again. At least everything has been dried so I’m not dealing with a foul-smelling batch of fermenting laundry stew.

For the most part, though, analyzing return on investment, efficiency and opportunity cost – things that come so easily to me in the business world – is a bear on the personal level.

My old friend Mommy Guilt, we meet again.

She’s been a real witch lately, as I’ve added two time-consuming tasks but haven’t eliminated anything. At first, I conned myself that I could still do everything because the new additions “only” take up about two hours a day. A few weeks into that plan, though, and I realize that’s pure Oscar Mayer.

And part of me still resists giving anything, because on some level the Alpha Mom marketing that says I can do it all messes with my mind. That bit of bologna smacks me in the face at the end of every day, when the stress of trying snowballs and lands on me, and first thing every morning, when things undone the night before wind up being start-of-the-day rush jobs. Thus the cycle continues.

How to get out of it?

Maybe it is as simple as deleting the inbox and starting over. Eliminating everything and rebuilding only with what’s really important.

The rest can be like the newsletters featuring Christmas crafts and Halloween projects: Keep it in the back of my mind for “someday,” but don’t trip on it if “someday” never arrives.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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