Lisa Hess looks around and finds the hidden tasks that never make it to the to-do list.
I have a quote posted in my office that says, "Happiness is found along the way, not at the end of the road." With apologies to the author (who, according to the Internet, is Robert Updegraff), I would argue that sometimes, organization is found along the way, not at the end of the road.
Lately, I've been very list-driven. This sounds like a good thing but, if you're a recovering perfectionist like me, it's really only a good thing if you actually get to the bottom of the list (which I rarely do). In an ongoing effort to divorce myself from workaholism and recapture my weekends, I've been trying to keep my Saturday and Sunday lists more flexible so that I'm more flexible, too.
Last Saturday, I ditched the list and took what I started calling a "look around" day (and yes, I hear Renée Elise Goldsberry's voice singing that, which makes it even more fun).
Look around. What do you see? What needs to be done? What do you want to tackle first? Those were the questions that formed my mental list on Saturday and, you know what?
I got a lot done.
When I looked around, all the little hidden hot spots -- the “quiet collectors" that don't make it to the list -- came into focus. Sure, the obvious stuff jumped out, too, but most of those spots make it onto the lists I create all week long. If free-flow weekends are the balance to structured week days, then a "look around" Saturday was a perfect fit.
In many cases, the things that jumped out were the little things that annoyed me every time I walked by them -- a succession of small spots of clutter that I disregarded (kind of) because I was trying to stay focused on "the list." Most required less than fifteen minutes of my attention which, on a focus-on-the-list day was enough to pull me off-track. But, on a "look around" day, they were the list, the track -- the whole shebang.
In organizing, as in life, we sometimes need to step back and look at the whole picture before we zoom in and pour all of our time and energy into one small piece of the puzzle. "Look around" days help us prioritize in a different way, giving us permission to do what we want to do, to focus our attention on the thing that nags at us, even if no one else notices it.
I've said (repeatedly) that organizing is a process, but it's also a matter of balance -- balancing the big, must-do tasks with smaller tasks that can actually be more personally satisfying. Tackling all the little things that screamed for my attention every time I walked by them actually set me up for a week where it was easier to focus because there were fewer distractions. And now, when things call out to me during the week, I know I can choose to tackle them immediately, put them on the list, or save them for "Look Around Saturday," which I might just make a regular occurrence.
In fact, I know the perfect soundtrack to accompany it.
Copyright 2020 Lisa Hess
Image: Andrea Piacquadio (2020), Pexels
About the Author
Lisa Lawmaster Hess is a transplanted Jersey girl who writes both fiction and non-fiction. Lisa’s latest book is the award-winning Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist’s Guide to Sorting Your Stuff. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is an adjunct professor of psychology at York College. She blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, Organizing by STYLE, and here at Catholicmom.com. Read all articles by Lisa Hess.