I'm better now, but I lost a week at a very critical time in the production cycles of multiple books. This type of situation always forces me to do two things:
- Break out my time machine. This is how most overworked editors are able to meet incredible deadlines. Well-kept secret. Or at least until I just ruined it for all the other editors by saying something.
- Streamline my work process. Since I have a pretty streamlined process already after more than a decade of doing what I do, streamlining is slang for letting go of things that I can't get to--at least in the short term. That means, for instance, that I won't be assembling a full-length collection to submit to poetry contests anytime soon. C'est la vie!
|When you can't even come up with specific labels for your boxes, then you're ready to let go of the "stuff."|
I believe in the importance of letting go. Holding on to stuff is what often holds us back from achieving great things. When I decide to let things go, here is what I usually target:
Junk. Might seem obvious, but many people (myself included) keep the dumbest stuff. Do I really need an old pumpkin carving kit and broken calculator? What about these old lists that are obviously from before Will was born? I need to throw it all out or dump it on someone else.
Old food. This doesn't mean just the food that has gone bad in the fridge, though that's a great place to start. Maybe you have canned food that lasts until the year 2020, but that you've had for four years without the slightest urge to consume. Time to cut the chord.
Clothes. I know, I know. We might all lose weight (or gain it, I suppose) eventually, but if it's been more than a year since I've fit into a pair of pants, then I should move on. If I lose that weight, I can celebrate by buying myself some new jeans.
Books. Eeek! How could I recommend letting go of books? My rule is that if I have to pack books into boxes, then I should get 'em out of the house. This could mean taking them to the used bookstore or giving them to a friend who might enjoy a good read. I've moved several times, and it's them there books that always break my back.
Toys. As a former kid, I value the importance of toys. As a parent, all I see is clutter-clutter-clutter. Big time. I don't even know why I buy kids meals for the boys, because those are always the first to go when I do a toy raid.
E-mail. That's right. It's important to let go of e-mail too. Unless an e-mail is super duper important, I like to delete everything that gets to be older than a year. And I regularly delete e-mails from my deleted folder, because I believe in deleting things that I've already deleted.
Expenses. This is a difficult one, but I try to take a hard look at my expenses every so often and cut what isn't needed. Of course, I do this on paper. In the real world, I sometimes "forget" that I shouldn't be spending $2 for a liter of Mountain Dew or $7 for a meal from Wendy's. But I'm always trying.
Grudges. A lot of people have done a lot of horrible things to me over the years. But I know I'm not perfect, and that I've stepped on toes and hurt feelings over the years myself. If you have trouble with letting go of things, I hope you can at least put some effort into this one. Forgive people who do you wrong. It will only make you happier with all the other stuff that's surrounding you.
Letting go of things can be scary and intimidating at first, but once you start releasing yourself from clutter, it can get addictive. It's totally liberating!
Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer
Speaking of stuff, here's some cool things to check out: