One sock at a time

December 9, 2010

Yesterday I had the unique opportunity to do an impromptu coaching session with a young economics student who had a hard time keeping on top of his laundry. We were on set at a soap opera; he played an orderly, I a doctor. While waiting for our walk-on part (which took the better part of the day), he studiously reviewed his University work and appeared non-plussed at the activities around him. The day grew long (and his textbook boring) so we began to chat about The Power of Slow.

His eyes grew bright as he considered the possibility of actually tackling the one thing that seems to beat him down every week.

“Laundry!” he exclaimed. I could see the struggle as he grew tense at the thought of the pile awaiting him at home.

“Think reward system,” I explained. Had I been more clear-headed (we were, after all, seven hours into our waiting on set), I might have used some economic terms to help him understand my point. But he got it anyway as I said he needed to think of the mountain of dirty clothes as an opportunity to reward himself once he tackled some of it.

“I’m not talking the entire thing, here,” I continued with a grin. “We’re looking at grabbing the white wash first, ya’ know?” Sort and toss. I grew animated as I laid out a plan he might consider.

“Tell yourself you’ll just do the whites first, then maybe in two days, the darks. By week’s end you will have gotten down to the bottom of your laundry basket. Reward time!”

He smiled inwardly at the thought.

No matter where we go, we can live the slow. Sometimes all we need is to take it one sock at a time.

How do you break down your work into bite-sized chunks? Share your ideas here. I’d love to know!

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The power of slow is just as much about energy management as it is about your personal relationship with time. The more energy you conserve the more you have for other things. The same thing goes for your time.

One simple power of slow technique you can start doing is drip-drying your clothes. I know it sounds radical, but apart from a few years in the U.S., I have never owned a dryer. I made it through babyhood with both kids without one.

Consider the statistics. According to the Department of Energy, 5.8% of all residential energy consumption comes from your clothes dryer alone. What if you were to put your clothes dryer on hiatus during the warmer summer months? I bet you’d not only save on your energy bill, you might also feel better, too. It’s great exercise and very meditative to hang the wash outside. As with any mindful activity, it requires a bit of foresight. You can’t have a clean pair of pants within an hour’s time so if you want to wear something specific, you do have to build in the drying time. But air drying wash is a great exercise in establishing a positive relationship with time itself as you begin to see what it takes to move from point A to point B in a mindful fashion.

You may not have a plot outdoors to hang your things, but you can reduce your dryer usage dramatically by cutting back on just one load a week while drying some select things on your rack in the bathroom or balcony.

Life isn’t all about convenience and ‘gotta-have-it-yesterday’. Besides’ yesterday’s gone. All we have is now.

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