Hands down, my favorite episode of South Park is the one with the Underpants Gnomes. I love Tweak beyond imagine. Poor Tweak, already strung out on coffee and unable to sleep, and nobody believes him when he says little gnomes come in the night and steal his underwear. No wonder his sweater is buttoned wrong.
And I adore the industrious gnomes, who steal underpants and believe that somehow this will result in profit…if only they could figure out the elusive second step in the process.
For myself, when I’m stressed or feeling overwhelmed by all the things I have to do, I break things down into manageable tasks. Awhile back a friend posted a quote/tip (probably from somewhere else, but I fear I didn’t make note of the original link) that’s come to be almost a mantra for me: When you’re stressed, take a deep breath and say “And the way forward is…” In other words, what’s the next step?
Maybe it’s setting a timer for 15 minutes and hammering through as much e-mail as possible. After all, 15 minutes is barely a blip of time. Or I’ll make a cup of tea while doing the dishes. Unless I have an unusually large mound of dishes, I can get them all done in the time it takes to boil water and steep the tea. Plus making tea is a relaxing, calming ritual for me.
Sometimes it’s just reminding my brain to focus on one thing at a time. No, I can’t make eighteen phone calls and write the next chapter of a novel and visit the kitlings outside and go to the gym all at the same time. So pick one thing, and figure out the next step, and do that step. Don’t worry about all the other things, or even all the other steps, until that one’s completed.
A few minutes ago I went out to the garage to point out to Ken that we had forgotten earlier to discuss meals, make a grocery list, and go shopping, and thus we had no ability to make supper. (We got home at 2 a.m. from more than a week away.) We agreed that we’d either go out or order something in. I then came in to make my protein shake, which I drink about an hour before supper.
I then remembered my shaker bottle was still in my suitcase—a minor annoyance, since I like to have the water chilled before I make my shake. Also, now had to go all the way upstairs.
For some reason, I always misquote the South Park episode; instead of “Phase 1: Collect underpants” I invariably say “Step 1: Obtain underpants.”
Tonight, I sighed as I walked through the kitchen to go upstairs and get my shaker bottle, and I muttered, “Step 1: Remove underpants.”
And then I stopped dead in my tracks, wondering just where my brain was going with that.
(For the record, I have not removed my underpants—still not sure why my subconscious thinks I should, especially if we’re going out to eat—but I have finished drinking my shake.)