Okay, if you‘re needing to scrape and repaint your wood-sided house, and you’re putting it off, by all means, don’t let me stop you, procrastinate away! But what about those little jobs that you walk by every day? That little job is sitting there not only cluttering up your house, but it’s cluttering up your mind.

I have a habit of trying to do the jobs that have the best ROI, meaning they will have a large impact in proportion to the amount of time spent. For example, I’ve been known to wash all of the pots and pans and let the utensils sit if I don’t have time to do all the dishes at the moment. After all, the pots and pans take up a lot more space and make a much bigger difference in the over all  look of my kitchen.

With this little quirk I’ve got going, I tend to pass by the little jobs in favor of the bigger, more obvious jobs. On any given day you might see a few things just sitting on the end of my kitchen counter waiting for a ride to the garage, (which is attached to the kitchen) or a load of socks to fold (because the space they take up is not that bad compared to the time it takes to match and fold them) or maybe a picture waiting to be hung on the wall. (because, being attached to the kitchen, in my not-very- big- house, the garage is simply too  far of a walk to go get a hammer and nail.) All of these little jobs that didn’t seem worth the time it would take to do them add up to a cluttered house.

Sometimes when I look at a room that’s kind of messy, I don’t pick up a single thing, because I’m paralyzed by this ROI procrastination. I look at something and think “that’s a job in progress and I don’t want to stop and do it right now”  or “that belongs to (insert child’s name here) or “I have no idea where that goes”. So, instead of taking care of each thing that’s out of place, I let it all sit there, cluttering up my house and head! Why do I say it clutters up my head? Because every time I look at it I have to remind myself why I’m not taking care of it. I really do have more important things to do with my brain than keeping excuses straight.

My daughter received for her birthday a very lovely, life sized, home made bow for her birthday. It was a gift from a friend with whom she shares a passion for the Chronicles of Narnia series. I chose a spot on her bedroom wall that she could hang it on, along with one Narnia poster,  to keep it from getting broken and to allow her to add some “Narnia flair” to her somewhat Shabby Chic room. Her birthday is in October. It’s January.  The bow is still standing on the floor, propped up against the wall where I said she could hang it. How long would it take me to go get a nail? I’m guessing about 30 seconds. And then 30 to pound it in, and 30 more to put the hammer away. (yes, you’re probably right, the hammer would make it as far as the kitchen counter). In less than two minutes, we really could have the bow and the poster hung! Wow, two for one!

The lesson I’m trying to teach myself is to stop and think about how long a task will really take. It’s usually not as long as I think. And how much better will this room look if I just do it! Yes it does take longer to fold socks than towels, and yes, they are sitting here nicely in this laundry basket. But won’t it look nicer when the basket is gone? And, really,  why go to the trouble to clean all the dishes, the sink, the stove, and sweep the floor and then leave 2 canning jars and a reusable grocery bag sitting on the counter? Wouldn’t the 30 second trip to the garage be worth it?

What little tasks do you skip, in favor of something with a higher ROI? Have you ever timed yourself to see how long it would take to do it? Maybe the ROI is bigger than you think.

If you do this too, let me know, I’ll feel a little less hopeless! And if you don’t, let the rest of us know what your tricks are to keeping the little stuff done!

I’ll talk to you soon, I’ve got to go get a nail.