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A mantra for our times

Midway through the Easter long weekend, I had a mini-revelation. I had spent far less time doing fun things than doing not-fun things. Not-fun things aren’t necessarily unpleasant, and have to be done, but why prioritise them?

When it comes to allocating my spare time, I tend to follow a dessert approach: you get your veggies out of the way and then, if you’re still hungry, you can have a treat. (This metaphor breaks down very quickly when you realise I’d rather have veggies over cake almost every time, but let’s suspend disbelief and pretend it totally works.) More and more, I’m getting fed up with this approach. God knows where I learned it, but I feel like you’re supposed to do chores and not-fun things before you can settle down and do fun things. Occasionally I hear the little Polly-fucking-anna voice in my head trying to convince me that getting the not-fun stuff out of the way first will mean the fun things are MORE fun because you don’t have chores hanging over you. What the fuck? Nope. I’m getting me some steel-toed boots and I am kicking that idea to the curb. From now on: do the fun things first.

Reasons? Like I need ’em, but okay. If you do the not-fun things first, you’re using up your primo first-thing energy on not-fun things. That means:

  • You get better at doing the not-fun things but not necessarily anything else.
  • You’re left with second-rate energy for the fun stuff.
  • You’re a bit tired and probably cross after doing not-fun things, making the fun things way less fun than they could be.
  • You have less time for the fun stuff.
  • You are giving prioity to stupid things: tasks that you don’t care about but feel like you ought because other people seem to.

(I suspect the tl;dr version of this post is “I had to do housework and I’m not pleased about it”, but I think there’s a lesson in that for everyone.)

People, even if you leave to be a hundred and fifty years old, yo’re still going to spend too much of your life doing stuff you don’t really want to: don’t make it harder on yourself. We’ve all gotta work, we’ve gotta wash the dishes, we’ve gotta wipe the kids down when they puke up on themselves (if they’re your kids, I mean: I’m not touching other people’s kids’ puke): so when you’ve got some spare time, do the fun stuff first.

This is a little punchier but no less true than my other mantra, the key to good living:

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