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  • Felice Cohen

The Power of One Minute

My friend Deb can’t stand emptying the dishwasher. “Not that it’s hard,” Deb says, “I just hate doing it.” Since Deb lives alone her only alternative is washing the dishes herself. To combat her annoyance with this luxury (yes, in Manhattan, a dishwasher is a luxury) she tries “to empty the dishwasher in the time it takes my coffee to percolate.” She’s simply taken the focus off the chore and made it into a game.

And who doesn’t love games?

With every organizing project I face, my aim is to create a challenge or at the very least, add some levity. Whether it’s cleaning out a closet (I must get rid of ten things!), reorganizing a garage (listen to music!), or tackle errands (soft ice cream when I’m done!), turning it into a challenge makes it feels less like work and more like play.

Deb’s aversion to emptying the dishwasher got me thinking. How long does it really take to complete most household chores and what other tasks do we put off that can be completed fairly quickly? Ironing shirts? Paying bills? Cutting up celery? Taking out the recycling? If finding a way to create a challenge (dare I say distraction?) helps you complete your To Dos, then why not? What you may discover upon finishing each task is that it didn’t take as much time as you thought, which may motivate you to tackle another.

I’m back in Florida this week spending precious minutes with my grandfather. Between doctor visits and evenings by the pool, I’m getting him to pare down paper, Tupperware (click here for video of our Tupperware Tango) and toiletries. Since these projects take me no time, with each completed one, I immediately start another, to which Papa says, “That’s enough for today, save the rest for another time. Slow down.” I can only smile back. How do I explain that, for me, this is slow?

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