For the past three days, I have resolved to dust the bookshelves in my living room, but I have not yet completed this simple action.
Dusting my shelves is only one in a long list of simple tasks I avoid. Why do I find it so hard to do easy things?
One reason I avoid tackling a job is because I overestimate the time it will require for completion. In the case of the bookshelves, I calculate that it will take me all day to remove the items from the shelves and dust thoroughly both the items and the shelves. I don’t have a full day to devote to dusting shelves.
Of course, I could do a less thorough but still reasonably good job in much less time. If I dusted only the exposed part of each shelf and the exposed sides of each item on the shelf, I could probably finish the job in thirty minutes. I won’t do that, though, because I have convinced myself that the task “will take too long”
A second reason I find it hard to do an easy thing is that I over-analyze the job. For example, if my kitchen floor needs to be mopped, I put too much forethought into the act of mopping. First, I chastise myself for letting the floor get so dirty. Then I resolve never to let it become so dirty again.
This requires me to decide upon an exact number of days between which I should let my kitchen floor go between moppings. If I decide the floor should be mopped every third day, I need to mark on my calendar each day that I should mop the floor so I won’t miss a mopping.
Also, I need to decide if mopping the kitchen floor should include mopping the floor of the kitchen’s adjoining hallway. I decide that it should not. The hallway should more logically be mopped on the day that I mop that hallway’s adjoining bathroom. I now need to mark the hallway/bathroom mopping schedule on my calendar, in addition to the kitchen mopping schedule.
The problem with this excuse is that in the time it took me to think through a plan and reject it, I could have mopped the floor twice. The floor hasn’t been mopped, though, and it won’t be mopped today because the task has now become too daunting.
A third excuse I use for not performing household tasks is my conviction that I was meant for more intellectually stimulating work. I was made to write. Writing is certainly more important than dusting and mopping. Surely I should pursue this higher calling.
The problem with this reasoning is that I can’t write worth a lick when I know I need to be doing something else. With each sentence I try to compose, I am distracted by thoughts of the dust on my living room shelves and the grime on my kitchen floor.
These excuses are not working very well for me. Obviously, I need some help. I don’t mean I need help getting my work done. I need help finding better excuses for not getting it done.