I recently visited Concord, Massachusetts where the Transcendentalist movement took off. Many places had merchandise with the words “simplify” and other variations. I could not help but smile. Yes, simplify! One of the things that I find myself looking at is how efficient things work – is there a way to make it easier? And who doesn’t want things to be easier? As technology tempts us more and our time feels so fleeting, there are steps we can take to be more effective in how we use our time and energy – to simplify.
In a previous post I talked about being “in the moment” as we do things. As we do our dishes, we can focus our mind on what we are doing. It forces us to do a good job and save us time by not needing to do it again. Yet there can be more to this process, as we focus on the task we’re doing, we can think about whether there is another approach that might move it along more smoothly.
We’ve probably all seen the commercials that talk about washing the pots and pans last. This makes sense from more than one perspective, not just from dirty water. Those pots and pans are larger and often can rest easily on top of other dishes as the last things to get washed. In loading the dish rack, making it easy just helps the whole process along. There is no need to take time to rearrange things or throw things in haphazardly.
Each dish rack is different, as are your needs and situation. Making an evaluation of how smoothly things work as you are working in it can be a sort of meditation on the very task. In many ways it becomes systematized, you get into a “flow” and it all happens easily and with little thought, yet it’s done well.
I’ve applied this to mowing the lawn as well. I focus on what I am doing – mowing the lawn, in this case, and find the rhythm of it. As I follow that rhythm, I consider if there would be a more efficient approach. When we first moved into the house and I started mowing for the first time in my life, my energy was a big factor. I noticed that my energy changed depending on whether I started with the front or back yard, so I made sure to start with the back yard since I had more energy when I was done. These days energy is less of an issue, yet I’m still evaluating if there are ways to be more efficient. Am I backtracking to get at that weird area off to the side? Or when I mow in that direction, cut grass does not cover the sidewalk, so it looks nice and doesn’t take more time.
This can be applied to any activity you do – from the routine tasks to those you do infrequently – and it will help you be in the moment while you’re doing them. You can save yourself time, energy, and increase your productivity! All these tasks, which we all have, can become easier – and we can all appreciate that. 🙂 It might sound too simplistic, yet each small step we take can help us.
What can you do with your tasks to simplify them?