The Little Things You Know How to Accomplish by 30

Today I went to steam some broccoli for lunch. I’ve gotten very good at steaming broccoli- and not because it’s easy. I actually used to find it very difficult. My main problem was that I didn’t own a steamer.

I used to microwave just about all my vegetables. I was too lazy to bother purchasing a steamer. Even when I found out that steaming broccoli was healthier than microwaving it, I always thought “one day I’ll go out and buy a steamer.” But I didn’t.

It was only when I was at a 99 cent store purchasing lightbulbs that a little steaming basket crossed my path. It was quite cheap, and quite cute, so I bought it. But I never used it. I continued microwaving my broccoli this whole time since the microwave was familiar and the steamer was not. Path of least resistance.

My former roommate found the steaming basket I’d bought and enjoyed it thoroughly until she finally broke it after a few years- it was from the 99 cent store, after all. I watched her use it and promised myself I’d get around to using it too. But I did not.

Then one day I saw an even better steaming basket in Bed Bath & Beyond and decided that I was going to try again. This time I went home and actually took the steamer out of the box. I was going to put it on a shelf, but without thinking, I quickly threw some broccoli in it. The first time, I burned the broccoli, the steamer, and my pot. But I got familiar with how steaming worked.

After that, steaming wasn’t too bad except that I always had trouble finding a glass lid that went with the pot I was using. In my old apartment, all the lids for every pot were thrown behind the kitchen appliances. So I steamed with the wrong size lid all the time. It was the easiest way to get broccoli steamed quickly without a lid search. Most of the time, I was too lazy to search around for the right size lid. This worked okay, but was annoying enough to deter me from steaming too much. So I still used the microwave half the time.

When I moved to my new apartment, I put all my glass lids together in their own drawer, with nothing else. Suddenly, all my steaming obstacles had been removed.

Today the process of steaming broccoli was seamless. I grabbed the steamer, the nearest pot, and its easy to reach lid. I put the broccoli in. I steamed. I ate.

Sometimes getting things done can take 30 years to perfect.

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What little things have you not bothered doing because you haven’t made them habits yet?

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The Never Empty Inbox

Thousands of emails had piled up in my inbox while I turned the other way, hoping they’d disappear on their own. Literally thousands…3,508 to be exact, spread evenly over my 3 email categories in gmail.

“How did I let it get this bad?” I thought.

The emails got unwieldy because I hadn’t wanted to read all of them the moment they arrived, but there were a bunch of articles I one day wanted to get to and read. “One day,” I thought, “I’ll have all this extra free time and I’ll want to read some of these fascinating articles.”

When I was in LA last week, I brought my computer and followed Jane to her job at the library. “I’m going to use this time to delete all my emails,” I said. And I did just that, sitting next to her deleting while she worked. In about an hour and a half, I’d gotten the emails down to 2,508..or somewhere around there.

Another hour later, and I’d gotten smarter and unsubscribed from a bunch of mailing lists…”maybe this will stop the craziness next time,” I thought. Some of the lists were hard to unsubscribe from…but most actually had a pretty clear unsubscribe button on the bottom of their emails. “I should have done this sooner.”

When I got back from LA, I still had over 1000 emails. I felt overwhelmed…was I going to have to go through all of it and find the good articles while deleting the bad? The anxiety deepened, and in one fell swoop, I did something I’ve never done before. I checked all the emails in every category and pressed ‘archive.’

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Suddenly everything vanished. I had an empty inbox and lots of time. And my anxiety was gone.

 

I didn’t miss the articles. I wasn’t nostalgic for the clutter. All I saw was an empty inbox and lots of peaceful time ahead. I felt the same way as when I moved and gave away 13 garbage bags full of stuff- I felt happy for more space and I never missed the belongings. Why did I ever have all that stuff to begin with?

Take the plunge.

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