After the Leftovers Are Gone

December 3, 2020

Like much of the country, SingleFile took last Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving. We hope that you enjoyed a much deserved break!

As everyone knows, the end of Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday season. No sooner had the last of the leftovers been polished off than the holiday lights and decorations came out of storage. This has always been a hectic time. At home, there's a flurry of activity to get ready for the holidays. At the office, there's a rush to complete transactions before the year end. Layer on vacation and holidays, and everyone is scrambling. The commute used to provide a short respite, a twice daily time to decompress. Now I walk my dog - a lot.

It's early days yet, but I get the sense that people are doubling down on holiday trappings. Houses are lit up like the Eiffel Tower and inflatable characters of all stripes camp out in front lawns. I've heard that Christmas trees are being snapped up from lots and tree farms in record numbers. It's not surprising as we seek comfort in our traditions and symbols in times of anxiety. Some of those traditions will be missing this year -- bustling crowds in streets and stores, and celebratory meals out in favorite restaurants. Instead, we will make do with online shopping and takeout meals. Then again, it may be a good time to teach the kids to cook . . .

Other thoughts for these strange times.

Consider other leftovers to finish before the holiday season picks up in earnest. I read recently about the idea of personal leftovers. These are the half-finished projects, books, puzzles or chores that you set aside for whatever reason. Even when you're not consciously thinking about them, they're swimming around in the back of your mind. Now is the perfect time to finish them up or cast them aside for good. Maybe what seemed like a good idea at the time really isn't and can be discarded like a wilted salad. When you clean out the cold storage in your mind, you'll create more capacity for other things.

Sometimes when we look back on the flurry of activity that comprised our day, we're confused about what was actually accomplished. The culprit is the bevy of administrative tasks on a never-ending to-do list. Individually, these tasks are easy to complete and thus represent a reliable jolt of satisfaction. Collectively, they represent a giant time suck. Instead of the tyranny of the to-do list, I propose focusing on one or two big goals. These will require dedicated periods of concentration. Decide what you want to accomplish and when you're going to do it. You will need breaks, and there can be time to take care of a few mindless tasks. In the end, you'll have a lot more to show for your efforts.

If you have anything you'd like to share, just reply to this email. Here are more tips on making the most of your time.

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