The other day, I was running late while I was getting ready for work. I’ve been making a point of keeping my room orderly, and it has been doing wonders for my general happiness. I feel less stressed when I know exactly where everything is and exactly where everything goes. That’s why I worried about the scarf I hadn’t put away as I walked out the door. I left it on my bedroom floor. I was worried that that scarf, along with the jacket next to it and my unmade bed, would nag at me for the rest of the day until I came home from work and put it away, the same way that unfinished tasks weigh on my mind when I go to bed.
Surprisingly enough, it didn’t bother me at all for the rest of the day. And in fact, when I was feeling particularly stress out on my way home from work, as I tend to do in the evenings and at night, I got home to find the scarf and jacket and unmade bed waiting for me, completely forgotten until I walked in on them. And even then, they didn’t stress me out further. Instead, I calmly walked across my room and gently placed my belongings back where they belonged and made my bed. This took one minute. It was one minute to catch my breath before I dove back into my busy life, and one minute to complete a small task that brought me a feeling of small triumph.
Sometimes we need that small victory, and I realized that by allowing a couple of tasks to go undone at the start of my day, I was able to give myself that victory at the time that I needed it. Maybe this is a new strategy to deal with stress. If there is no urgency to a task – no deadline or consequence for putting it off – it might be best to just leave tiny things for times when I need a victory in my life. In any case, it was relaxing and satisfying to that task just at that time.