They Say If You Want Something Done

They say if you want something done, you must do it yourself. This is not true. 

For starters, there are many things best accomplished by getting someone else to do them. Plumbing, for example, or electrical work – the type of home emergency for which you are unsure whether a professional or an exorcist is more urgently needed. (Don’t wait. Call both.)

Planning one’s own birthday party, too, is an activity which may not yield the best results when delegated – yet the secret, slightly smug satisfaction that comes from others trying (without too much hinting or suggestive tactics) lends the outcome a piquancy achieved through no other means. (It may not even matter if the cake is not the requested flavor, or the dog ate half of it, or the dog baked it, or the cat got involved halfway through and added tuna: the point is, they tried.)

Still. There are some things which, whether or not you want them done, must be done by…you

The first step is of course to see if they must be done now. It is remarkable how many tasks are described as “time-sensitive.” This is just administrative linguistic overreach. Technically speaking, everything is time-sensitive, i.e. sensitive to time. Mountains, oceans, and glaciers are all time-sensitive, but no one goes around asking for copies in triplicate, black not blue ink. 

(Actually it is likely that mountains, oceans, and glaciers are becoming more time-sensitive.  That’s the problem with humanity, it has to go around inflicting its love of deadlines on everyone else, like the more tactless brand of mortician.)

If the above dodge fails, you can always tweak the basic premise in the following way.

If you want something done, there is a simple solution. You must find something else more important to do.

Something urgent, something dreadful: deep dark apologies or tax returns or another deadline – any other deadline, although if it is firm enough to have two extra names and advertise in the “Legal Services” section of the phone book, so much the better. Your chances of accomplishing anything else just skyrocketed. 

The key is mis-directing your own better judgment, i.e. natural tendency to avoid things. By carefully and completely avoiding the larger issue – with all the thoroughness and attention to detail you can muster – you increase your likelihood of accidentally finishing the comparatively-smaller issue(s). Rather like velociraptors vs. Tyrannosaurus Rex in Jurassic Park

I am always extremely surprised by the amount of things that mysteriously disappear off my to-do list around, say, tax filing time. It’s like a reverse missing persons list, except instead of bodies (living or otherwise) I keep finding a trail of no laundry, no dirty dishes, and no remaining meal prep. It gets to the point I’m afraid to check the mailbox for fear of seeing all the neatly stamped-and-addressed envelopes waiting to go out, etc. 

If you are still following the logic here, you must have noticed one more final item of importance. It is crucial to plan time in which to burn through lesser tasks – the original “something you wanted done” – before the actual deadline of the task you are using as a switch-and-bait comes up. 

This is why, if you are going to use this method, you must start early. I now start my tax filing preparations in July just so I can get all the other items moved off of my to-do list before the following April. This also, effectively, means I can accept no more new tasks for the year past July 1st. Why? Because then I’d never get anything done. 


Published by Marushka

I dream curiosity and write words that change brains.

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