Getting Rid of 2011

I have been abysmal at following the reverb10 prompts but today’s has caught my eye.

December 11 – 11 Things What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

There aren’t a lot of THINGS that need getting rid of in my life. I am known in my family as the “anti-hoarder”, and it is joked that my favorite hobby is cleaning out the closets. I once had this conversation with my husband.

Me: At least once a month, I fill up the back of this van and take a load of extra clothes, books, toys and various other things we don’t need to Goodwill. I throw out six bags of garbage a day. And yet, there’s never any less stuff in this house. Do you know what that means?

Him (Hopefully): That I’m a good provider?

What I need to get rid of in my life is 10% things that take up SPACE and 90% things that take up TIME.

  1. The word “later” is the number one thing my life doesn’t need. An enormous number of things are filed, bookmarked or stacked up that I am going to get to “later”. For 2011, I am going to do the things that take less than five minutes (like going through the mail, putting a dish in the dishwasher), NOW or, like reading through that magazine I didn’t order, never. Both my house and my mind will be less cluttered that way. If it takes longer than five minutes, I am either going to do it now, do it never, in which case I will toss it, delete it or whatever, or set a specific time that I’ll do it. For example, I pay all my bills on Sunday night. It’s a really good system, because I put all the bills in one spot and don’t think about them again. Then, on Sunday, I take care of everything.
  2. Materials I’m going to read “later”. I’m going to set aside every Monday morning and Wednesday morning to go through all the documentation, books, etc. that I’ve saved for “later”. I’m pretty unproductive in the morning so having a task I want to do will get me out of bed earlier. It should also make me more selective on what I save and get more technical reading done at the same time, since I’ll have to ask myself am I really interested enough in this thing to use up my time this week on it.
  3. Volunteer activities. My husband commented that “I’m going to spend all my time on myself this year” sounded like a great New Year’s Resolution to him. In fact, between math, statistics and judo, I am asked to do something at least once every week, whether it is a seminar for coaches, a presentation to kids at a middle school on statistics or speak at a conference. I can’t even accept all of the invitations people extend to do things, so why on earth would I take on any more? I’ve realized that there are other, usually younger, people who will step up, and that’s a good thing.
  4. Positions on any boards. From 1993- 2010 I have been on the board and numerous committees of at least one non-profit organization, often two at once,  addressing issues of mental retardation, athlete development and family relations. I’d like to think that much of it was productive but the truth is that I hate meetings. I’ve been president of this, vice-president of that. I have had my share of learning experiences, which I do appreciate and I sure as heck don’t need another line on my resume. It may sound like I am saying “Let someone else do it”, because I am. After 17 years, it’s perfectly okay to let someone else do it. Hey, I’ve had three marriages and none of them lasted that long. (Although at 13 years and counting, I’m working on it.)
  5. One-sixth of everything. For the last two years, I’ve been getting rid of stuff in my house. I told my 12-year-old daughter about 14-year-old Hannah Salwen who had the idea to “give away half”. Julia responded, “Yes, but did she have to live in this economy?” (Where does she get this crap?)  I told her with two parents working, private school and a housekeeper, this economy was doing her pretty damn good. I don’t think we can comfortably give away half, but I think one out of every six things in here could go (why do we need six computers for three people?). It would make it easier to clean up, easier to find things, and make us think more about all the useless crap we buy and bring in here.
  6. Free software. I don’t mean all free software. Some of it, like Open Office and almost everything on Linux, is great. However, I have a bad habit of downloading stuff that is open source even though I know that free software is more like a free puppy than free beer. I’d love to have a free puppy, but you have to pick and you can’t take everyone home from the pound.
  7. Artificial deadlines. For years, I told managers, “You can have it right or you can have it right away. Take your pick.” I’ve kind of fallen into the “You have to ship mantra” lately. Too much listening to people who want to go from start-up to venture capital to millionaire in 24 months. I need to figure what are the things I really want to get done, how long each should reasonably take and then do those.
  8. That little voice in the back of my mind that says, “You need to be making money on this right now”. Actually,  I don’t. That is one of the advantages of leaving home at age 15, working full-time, and, as an old coach says, “Going balls to the wall” for 37 years. I can do what I am interested in now and make money eventually, or maybe even never. On an unrelated note, why is it that so many things coaches say don’t really make sense if you examine them?
  9. Worrying about my adult children. They are in their twenties. I gave them lots of love and opportunities while they were growing up. I can now give them advice but if they screw up, it’s on them and not me. By and large, they are doing fine, and when they are not, well experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.
  10. Excuses. As a coach, I tell athletes all of the time, “No one is ever ‘too busy’ for sex or ‘too busy’ to breathe. You find time for what matters. If you can’t find the time to do it, obviously, you don’t want it that bad.”
  11. Finding fault with the people I love. I was widowed at 36. It sucked. Over the years, there have been times I was really mad at my late husband for not being here, for not having planned better for the possibility I might end up raising our kids by myself. Lately, having my two-year-old granddaughter visiting I remembered how he had paid for a full-time housekeeper for five years while I was getting a masters degree and Ph.D. Part of why I can do what I want is that my current husband is a real-live rocket scientist and brings home steak more than the bacon. And daughter number three may not have the career path I would have picked for her, but by 21 she had been to two Olympics, brought home an Olympic bronze medal, a world championships silver medal, a junior world gold medal and four world cups. And she is my least accomplished kid, except for the 12-year-old, so perhaps I should chill.

So, that’s my list. Now that it’s done and the granddaughter is asleep at 11 pm (2 a.m. East Coast time – the fact that my daughter gets so many articles published on deadline is AMAZING) – I think I will start on my next program, going back to #1.

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