Balance Tip: Consider Your Future Self
Present-Moment Sandy often gets irritated with Past Sandy.
Present-Moment Sandy (we’ll go ahead and call her PMS….you know…because she’s irritated) will wake up to a sink full of dishes and think, “Darn you, Past Sandy! Why didn’t you wash these yesterday?”
PMS will walk into the bedroom, see the unmade bed, and get all judgy about Past Sandy “Again? Did she do nothing this morning? Is Past Sandy too good to take the five minutes necessary to make the bed? Who does Past Sandy think she is?”
The sad irony is that PMS does the exact same thing to Future Sandy! She leaves things undone for Future Sandy to do. (This is getting complicated…stick with me.)
PMS, will see the mail pile sitting on the counter begging to be sorted. But instead of taking the two minutes necessary to complete the chore, she’ll decide to be true to the present moment.
The mail pile will be here tomorrow. This moment is not for sorting mail! No! This moment is for LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST! *insert inspirational soundtrack here*
She’ll do the same with the laundry pile. And the shoe pile. PMS decides All The Piles are much too insignificant to tend to in the present moment (because a tidy house is the sign of a misspent life or something), so she leaves them, undone, for Future Sandy.
Therefore, in the moment, PMS despises doing the tasks Past Sandy neglected, while at the exact same time, loves leaving tasks undone for Future Sandy.
Confused by all the Sandys and all the moments?
Let me clarify:
Ignoring a chore and leaving it for later is so decadent. Procrastination is truly wonderful in the moment! It’s so gratifying to take a deep breath and say, “It’ll be there tomorrow…I’ll worry about it then. Instead, I’ll create a meme about the importance of living in the moment and post it to my social media accounts.”
As a card-carrying Rule Follower and generally organized and disciplined person, I feel a little rebellious when I look a sink full of dishes in the eye and say, “Not today, dishes!”
But rarely am I pleased with myself when I do so. In the end, it’s never quite as satisfying as what I imagined. I never wake up and say, “WOW! I’m soooo glad I left the kitchen a complete disaster so I could walk in to a mess and try to clean it now that the food has cemented onto the plates. That was so worth it. I’ll ignore my dishes after every meal from now on.”
No, instead I end up, first of all: shocked. Because I tend to forget I rebelled against the dishes yesterday.
Next: irritated. Because I don’t really have time to chisel food off plates before I start making breakfast for the kids at 6:45 am.
Then: under-my-breath self-loathing. Because I procrastinated, and procrastination didn’t make my life any simpler in the long run. Procrastination actually bit me in the butt.
After repeating this cycle dozens of times, I finally decided to consider my Future Self.
Will she want to come home to this later?
Wake up to this tomorrow?
Walk in on this a few hours from now?
Will she be happy that I left this for her?
If the answer is “no,” I buck up and do the task right away. If I have the power, ability, and time to do so, I do so.
I take five minutes to stop the car and fill up the gas tank, so Future Sandy doesn’t need to rush around in the morning.
I take two minutes to make the bed, so Future Sandy can walk into an orderly bedroom later.
I take one minute and set up the coffee pot, so Future (tired) Sandy can wake up and simply press “start.”
I take ten seconds to rinse off the plate and put it in the dishwasher, so Future Sandy can cook dinner in a clean kitchen.
I take five seconds to lay out clothes for the morning, so Future Sandy doesn’t have to stumble through the dark bedroom and make wardrobe decisions before coffee.
I take two seconds to stop at the recycle bin and drop in the junk mail, so Future Sandy doesn’t have to sort through a giant pile at the end of the week.
Is it mildly inconvenient to complete tasks right away rather than ignore them?
But it is much more comfortable than coming face-to-face with the undone task later…and (surprise!) still needing to complete it.
It’ll be there tomorrow, sure. But it will be there on top of all the tasks of tomorrow. Just do it now. #bettermeme
Consider your Future Self, like she’s another person, separate from you.
What would increase her happiness and peace? What would give her that little boost of energy early in the morning? What would set her up for a successful day? What would help her unwind in the evening? What would she be so thankful that you took the time to do instead of leaving it for her?
Do that thing. Be extra kind to her. You never know what your Future Self may be dealing with.