When among friends, I often hear what has become a common refrain: “You look busy. And tired.”
They’re correct most of the time. It’s typical to find me running across campus, entirely engrossed in whatever task I’m out to conquer. Late nights and early mornings are the norm, as are copious amounts of coffee.
It’s in this rush that I’ve noticed how small, seemingly innocuous chores have fallen by the wayside in favor of what I consider to be more important goals.
While I’ve been off helping guide a newspaper, my dishes sit abandoned in the sink. Instead of reordering what’s now become a knot of tangled sheets on my bed, I’ve hopped on the bus early to get a head start on breaking news coverage.
When the grand designs I envision fall apart, I quickly fall into believing I have thrown the day to waste.
Surely this is because I’ve prioritized the big over the small, I think to myself, not realizing the value inherent in both nor the impossibility of achieving the great before the common.
As Adm. William McRaven simply put it in a commencement address at the University of Texas at Austin, “If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”
Not only does completing a simple undertaking at the beginning of the day — cleaning your apartment, going on a run or just walking around the block — leave a sense of attainment that will carry on, but overcoming a small challenge cascades into an industrious mindset.
Of course, picking up dirty socks won’t be the miracle that turns one’s life around, but it is a productive start.
I haven’t yet fully committed myself to overcoming small challenges before the gargantuan, but it’s my hope to lead a life that is more efficient and purpose-driven.
Tackle the day one task at a time. No doubt I sound like a parent in saying this, but make your bed, clean your dishes and do your laundry before making decisions with much larger repercussions.
You may not be any less exhausted at the end of the day, but hopefully you’ll feel just a bit more accomplished, valuable and organized.
Maybe, at the very least, reevaluating my hierarchy of tasks will eventually make me seem less busy and tired.