"It almost seems as if making your bed everyday and keeping your life in order is futile. In a sense it is. Every time you try to organize, you’re battling a natural force that drives the entire universe: entropy."
-from The Art of Manliness-
I woke up at 3:00 in the morning consumed with thoughts of entropy--that left to its own devices everything (like my house, my garden, my body & my brain) just falls apart --there are only 24 hours in a day--the maintenance never ends--and now I'm adding some extras to my To-Do List for this month--HOW CAN I GET IT ALL DONE?
- Mulching the darn garden.
- Weeding the darn garden.
- Planting the darn plants.
- Replacing our 20 year old air conditioner that just died.
- Fixing my car, now that the Check Engine Light can no longer be ignored.
- Reading a book for book club. A Good Thing.
- Hosting the book club. A Good Thing.
- Making final plans for our family vacation coming up in 4 weeks. Yikes! A Good Thing
- Hosting out-of-town company. A Good Thing
- Traveling out of town for a wedding. A Good Thing
- Rehanging the pictures I removed 1 year ago when we painted our house-that I haven't rehung because I wanted something hipper than what's been hanging there for over 20 years, and I don't exactly know what that is.
- Cleaning out my disgusting basement.
- Finally getting started on redoing my oldie moldy upstairs bathroom.
- Replacing the faded, worn-out family room furniture.
- Researching & making plans for a July weekend to Niagara-on-the-Lake. A Good Thing
- And yada yada yada
I know-this is definitely a case of whining on the yacht! Why am I moaning? Children in Haiti are eating mud sandwiches, people are starving in Myanmar, and now the earthquake in China. And I'm whining about having too many wonderful things to do?
And then, by chance at breakfast, I happened upon Benjamin Franklin and his own sorry struggles with bringing order into his life. He had far more important things to accomplish than I, and yet all the household stuff drove him crazy, too. That's when I had a brilliant revelation. Maybe there's a connection between an orderly life and a happy accomplished life.
If I want to fully enjoy my family, my friends, my projects, and actually do something about Haiti or Myanmar or the environment---maybe I need ORDER IN MY OWN HOUSE FIRST.
Franklin chose Order as his third virtue because it “would allow [him] more time for attending to [his] projects and [his] studies.” Franklin understood that if he wanted to get important things done in his life, he had to make sure the little things wouldn’t get in the way.
From the website: The Art of Manliness comes advice for people like me, who hate planners and systems, but need a nudge to get going.
The secret to bringing order to your life and overcoming entropy while only minimally increasing it in other areas of your life is simple: DO IT NOW. No system, no in-boxes, no index cards. Just do it now. After you get out of bed, turn around and make it. After you receive a piece of mail, take action on it immediately. As soon as you’re done eating, wipe down the kitchen. If you drop a sock on the floor, pick it up without hesitation. It’s not as easy as it sounds because whenever a bit of disorder appears in your life, you will feel entropy pulling you to ignore it. You must train yourself to repeat the mantra “do it now!” and push through this force.
If you find that you can’t do something now, write it down in a simple notebook. There’s no need to develop an elaborate capturing and filing system. Just write it down so you don’t forget.
But what about tasks that require multiple steps, ones you can’t take action on immediately? You will get to them eventually. They’re big; you won’t forget to do them, and you don’t need a system to get them done. Meanwhile, by creating an organized home, car, and workplace, you create an environment out of which the bigger tasks will flow far more easily.
Long before the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “Getting Things Done,” men like Theodore Roosevelt accomplished amazing things without an elaborate system. You don’t need to set up some crazy regimen either. All you need to know to become a Master of the Universe are three little words: do it now, dagnabit. Okay four words.
I left the house this morning with my bed made, my clothes hung up, the sink empty, and everything picked up. It added about 12 more minutes to my morning. Who knew? I can do this.