How to get things done

There are two ways to get things done. You can either pay somebody else to do it or you can have something far more important you are supposed to be paying attention to but aren’t.

For instance, my “To Do” list is directly linked to the state of my house. The best way to get me to clean the windows is to require me to urgently spend several hours on-site looking at various types of dust. There is nothing like a pressing issue about architrave to get me scrubbing the decking with sugar soap. If there is ever anything vitally requiring my attention I can suddenly think of 18 others which are much less important but that I would much rather be doing. By contrast, if I’ve nothing much on the house begins to look like I’m trying to evolve a new life form in the bottom of the fridge.
There is a reason for this though. If I’ve nothing much on then my time tends to become occupied with the Secondary To Do list rather than the vacuuming. The Secondary To Do list consists of things which require my attention but aren’t getting it because they aren’t actively on fire yet.

Today I took the oven apart to try and discover why it makes a distressing noise not entirely unlike the one my car makes. It turned out the fan had somehow shifted and was intermittently scraping one of the screw heads. Having fixed that I helped Mammy to hem Strider’s new curtains.
I am not a big fan of curtains. While I understand their occasional necessity, I don’t use them much myself. I am especially not a big fan of messing around with yards of fabric and fiddling around with it to get it to the correct length and sewing it together. Luckily we have magic iron on stickiness (knight the guy who invented that, he deserves it) but there have been occasions in the past when I have had to slip stitch the hems of 4 pairs of curtains by hand to make them fall to the correct length on an uneven floor. I was not at my most amenable that day, I can tell you.

Getting things done on a computer is a whole other game altogether, one probably not unlike the wall game they play at Eton. For a start a computer offers a world of other distractions even if you don’t connect it to the interweb. Microsoft knew this which is why they mentioned it was theoretically possible to complete every single FreeCell game and also why I have sheets of paper with numbers on.
Even if you manage to stay away from card games and online confusion, there are thousands of ways to waste time on a computer. Reading the help sections for instance. These days they are a little dull and instructive but back when I was writing my dissertation (a hundred years ago or more) I used Ami Pro. The Ami Pro help was arranged in “How Do I” questions; “How do I save a file?” for instance, “How do I insert an umlaut?” or, my personal favourite, “How do I bake cookies?” Clearly the programmers understood their audience.

Once you have grown bored with this type of thing, you begin to realise how much potential there is in everything around you. In my study I have a window immediately to my right. Many are the times I’ve been busily typing away to suddenly notice something arresting on the other side of the glass. Last week there was a heron calmly walking along the drive away from me. At sunset there are always dozens of rabbits chasing each other across the lawn. A couple of months ago a dozen cows kindly came for a visit after Young Jim forgot to shut their gate properly.

Personally I find the best way to get anything done is to do it late at night. Other people aren’t around asking you to do things for them, the only programs on television are infomercials and the constant light provided by a light bulb prevents you noticing the passage of time. The only flaw with this plan is its requirement for you to omit sleep but that’s nothing a really strong cup of tea can’t help with.

Of course there is a third way to get things done, and that is to have a television which only receives RTE and TV3. Naturally I wouldn’t wish that on anybody but it’s always worth baring in mind.

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