“Have the courage to build your life around what is really most important to you.” ― Joshua Becker, The Minimalist Home: A Room-By-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life
Three days ago, I received an email from my editor: “Karen, Part I: is about 7,000 words right now. I want you to try to double that word count before our next conference call on 8/11.”
I groaned. Seven thousand words. Seven thousand! I accessed the shared document: Part I was currently at 6,777 words, which meant I had ten days to write 7,223 more words. If I was smart, I would break it down and commit to 725-750 words a day, but I fell into the abyss of procrastination.
I sat down at my desk, opened my laptop, and accessed my file. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my letter sorter, full of 5” x 8” directories from my women’s club as well as various scraps of paper, business cards and note cards poking out. As I typed, the distraction of the cluttered letter sorter took me away from my writing. I now had 7,220 words left to write, but I couldn’t do anything until I took care of the letter sorter.
I went through the papers in the sorter, shredded things I didn’t need and then moved on to the box where I dump all the papers and stuff, I don’t want to deal with. The house cleaners had been cleaning the day before, so I had swept everything I didn’t need off my desk and into a shoe box-sized Sterlite container. I dealt with the papers in the box by sorting them by Action, File, and Shred and then acted upon each of the piles. I looked at my watch: 30 minutes had slipped by.
I was feeling good and I was on a roll. I pulled open the top drawer in my bookcase. I got rid of a logoed mini pallet of sticky notes, an old address book, and old file folders. Another 15 minutes had gone, and my laptop was now in “sleep” mode.
I couldn’t stop. I went into the cabinet where I store candles, votives, and tealights. I pulled out everything that I didn’t use or had never used. I pulled out things I knew, that if I saw them in a store, I would never buy. I set aside things I just didn’t like (the tapered candles in boring beige). I filled a small box and set them aside to post for “Free” on Next Door.
I sat down in my cushy reading chair and closed my eyes. My productive procrastination had helped me generate some ideas about my writing, the theme of my book, and how my obsession with minimalism continues to fuel me and move me forward.
I thought about how society is focused on consumption and accumulation and how easily I had bought into it.
I thought about all the money I had spent acquiring things, things that were just things – not people, not experiences; nothing of importance.
A few weeks ago, someone asked me why I was so anti-Amazon, obsessed with minimalism, and focused on clearing out our house. The words came out easily: I’ve learned to embrace, and hold close the things that are most important to me: health/self, family, values, and relationships – the things that money cannot buy, and material possessions cannot replace.
It takes courage to walk away from a big paycheck and step into a life of the unknown. What I do know is that I can always find a way to make money, but in the meantime, as I remove items from my home, I am happy to make way for what will be added: energy, time, and focus. These are gifts that cannot be purchased with currency but rather with time.
As I sat back down at my laptop, I acknowledged my intentional procrastination: It’s not a bad thing, it’s just part of my process.
Just six days and 5,023 words to go to meet my deadline. Piece of cake.