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COLUMN: When you run out of things to cross off your to-do list

New book suggests ways to succeed, but in this week's Everything King, Wendy offers alternate options
2021-05-10 Bed
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Remember the retired U.S. admiral who did an inspirational commencement speech declaring that if you want to make a difference in your life and the world to start with making your bed?

His address went viral on YouTube.

William H. McRaven has now come out with a book by the same name, called Make Your Bed.

I haven’t purchased it yet, but it's on the to-do list.

I definitely need some inspiration and motivation. This far into the pandemic lockdown and I have taken to making daily lists of things I have accomplished and it is admittedly pitiful. I just do it because I like to cross things off.

  1. Fed the cat.
  2. Made breakfast. Ate breakfast. Cleaned up from breakfast.
  3. Moved things from one cupboard to another.
  4. Looked out the window. Didn’t see a solitary soul.
  5. Wandered aimlessly.

You get the idea. I basically want a participation ribbon. I am in dire need of some encouragement to get more things done.

Even writing is getting more difficult. I mean, what have any of us really done lately? Certainly, in my case, nothing especially noteworthy.

Forgive me: nurses, doctors, teachers, caregivers and all essential workers who are busier than usual and who have worked the entire time. I am addressing folks who are working from home and in a bit of a rut.

This navy man was making the point to a class of graduates back in 2014.

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you do that, you will be accomplishing the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride. It will encourage you to keep going — one little job at a time.”

He continues: “If by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

As a four-star admiral and Navy SEAL, I’m going to assume he knows a fair bit about accomplishment, goal-setting and success.

I know he’s right. So, why do I fight so hard against it? A personality flaw, I suppose.

I come from a long time of hard-working perfectionists. They believed in hard work, long hours and doing a job right the first time.

This seems to have skipped my generation.

My motto is more “half-assed is better than nothing.” It really should be on T-shirt.

“Don’t make your bed. You are just going to get back in it later. Save your strength. Plus, the cat is in the bed, so I can’t disturb him.”

I swear I spent half my life fighting back against helpful hints and ideas that I know are correct, but my rebel sense keeps me fighting against myself.

How long can I trip over a hamper of clean clothes that just need folding?

I believe my personal best (read: worst) was two weeks. Don’t judge me!

I once left the suitcase still packed between one trip and another. That saved a lot of time, actually.

I spend a ridiculous amount of time procrastinating and worrying about how much I have to do.

If I just did it, it would likely take a total of 20 minutes?

What do I learn from this? Absolutely nothing.

I am sure Admiral McRaven would have a thing or two to say to me.

On the rare day when I do have the energy to start out making the bed, I will admit it feels better.

It is exactly as he describes. Giving you a sense of accomplishment then could lead to cleaning up the bedroom, vacuuming, cleaning the toilets, dusting or maybe even some necessary de-cluttering.

Still, just the thought of all those jobs tires me out.

Thank goodness I had the sense not to make the bed today. I’m going to just snuggle back in and contemplate all my future success.

I'll make a list!

About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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