Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Strike a Match: Take a Step

This wooden cup of used matches was nearly overflowing earlier this week when I emptied it, lots fuller than shown here.

So. . . what do you do with your spent matches?

It's not that I particularly wanted a pile of matches. It just sort of happened there, next to the gas stove. One match to cook the breakfast oatmeal. Another match for making tea. Just 2, 3 or 4 matches a day from fall into winter.

Got to wondering how many matches might have accumulated there. How many would you say, just eye-balling that pile? Take a guess. . .

a) 200 matches?
b) 300
c) 400
d) 500
e) 600

If you guessed 600-ish, you're right. There were 615 matches in the pile. Got to thinking that there's an object lesson in there somewhere. It would have been quite a task to strike 600+ matches in one fell swoop. Of course. But the point is that small things add up. A little here, a little there and at the end of the day, the end of the month or the season, something significant can be accomplished without breaking into a sweat.

Someone put it this way:
(small tasks) x (time) = major accomplishment

One bite at a time. . . and an elephant is devoured.
One small step. . . and the longest journey is shorter.
One sentence at a time. . .
One packed lunch at a time. . .
One flight of steps at a time. . .

Question: What's something I can do right now for 5 minutes that will move me in the direction of a lifetime goal?

Someone said:
Ask small questions.
Think small thoughts.
Take small actions.
Identify small moments.

Question: In what areas might I want to move ahead?
Financial fitness - saving toward a goal - How about a Nexus One? ;)
Physical wellness - imagine doing a push-up! Or getting into those jeans?
Learning something new - how to tile the bathroom? - or how to SKYPE?
Correspondence - emptying the inbox - or writing one thank-you note?
Household - putting up Christmas stuff - or just the ornaments?

Taking baby steps is the secret, of course. As Flylady says, you can do anything for 15 minutes. Set a timer for 15 minutes and take a small step. Fifteen minutes in the kitchen today repeated throughout the week will make for an orderly kitchen and calmer meals . Fifteen minutes this evening preparing clothes, gear and lunches for tomorrow will make for a peaceful night of sleep.

Myself, I tend to live in a world filled with possibilities and ideas. And dreams and schemes. This can be wonderful but the downside is dealing with the paralysis of analysis. But I get through the day in short increments and have timers throughout the house. Today, for instance, did stretching and abs for 20 minutes before 20 minutes of devotional time. Then 20 minutes of computer time while the oatmeal was cooking. Later, I studied Russian in several 20-minute increments broken up by several 15 minute increments in the kitchen or on the computer.

Mini-goals and 15-minute increments make a difference for me. How about you, dear blog reader? What works for you?


Jeanette said...

I've been doing just this very thing to start this year with less mess. Each day I've tackled one small mess--a drawer of mis-matched socks--a pile of papers next to the phone--a disorderly book shelf. Bit by bit my world will "straighten up" and my guilty conscience will be released from clutter jail. Then I hope to spend this same time on my writing projects. You set a great example!

Stew Black said...

'Do it now' is the mantra for many people suffering from depression. As you say a snmall amount of time every day can reduce anxiety and, importantly combats our natural impulse to put off today what we can do tomorrow.
I can waste whole days doing next to nothing and yet 15 minutes of productive household chores? Impossible.

Alida said...

I tell myself that I can do this one thing and then get it done. I have fibromyalgia and sometimes it is easier to just lay in bed and mope. But I tell myself that I can put the clothes away or take out the trash and I get it done!