17 July, 2016

Putting The Tea On

My roommate drinks a lot of tea - hot tea in the morning, iced tea the rest of the day. Since I like to help out around the house (read: pull my weight), I end up brewing a lot of pitchers of tea. And it's taught me something. The way the tea is brewed, there are two steps, with a little lapse in between. First, I have to put some water and the tea bags in the electric teapot, and then let it go for about five minutes. Then, I pour the freshly brewed tea into a pitcher, along with a scoop of sugar, and stir it up. (Then I wash the utensils and stick the tea in the fridge, but this is just a continuation of the second step). For the longest time, I couldn't decide whether to preload the sugar into the pitcher when I first put the tea on, or wait until I was ready to pour the tea into the pitcher. I would waffle, going back and forth one day to the next, because I didn't have a clear reason to do it one way or the other.

And then one day I thought to myself, if you can do it sooner, why put it off? Because whether you do it sooner or later, you're still going to have to make the same effort. If you feel "lazy", putting it off isn't going to make it any easier when the time comes to get it done. So you put in the effort as soon as it makes sense to do so, and then it's done. You don't have to worry about it anymore. Making your life easier later is preferable to making your life easier now (despite the latter being more appealing), because it's not any harder - in fact, after you've already put it off once, you might find it even harder to do the work when the time comes around - and it feels good to believe that you're being proactive, and getting shit done. Besides, you don't know what's going to happen later. Certainly, if there's a good reason not to do it right away, that's fine. But if you do it at your first chance, then chances are you won't wait till the last minute and find that circumstances have turned against you. So now I always scoop the sugar first, and that's one less decision I have to make.

Wow. Am I really arguing against procrastination? I can't believe it. But it works. Still, it's not applicable to every situation. For example, I prefer to make the bed in the evening rather than the morning, because I know I might lounge in it throughout the day, and the one time of the day I want most to have a freshly made bed is right before I jump into it for the night. So, in that case, there's an inevitable period of uncertainty, where I want to wait till it's late enough that I don't think I'll be lounging in bed anymore before bedtime, but not so late that I'm exhausted and ready to collapse. And anything that triggers my anxiety (e.g., communicating with people - emails and texts and things like that) is subject to exception, because even though I know that putting those things off makes them harder and makes things worse in general, there is that monster of anxiety getting in the way of rational thought. But, generally, I've learned that, unless there's a good reason for it (and often times there is), it's better to do things when you can, than put them off until some indefinite time in the future.