Why We Should All Embrace Avoidance
Your urge to clean, organize, repair or cook is the way you recharge as a remote worker.
My beauty supplies are in labeled, genre-specific bins… because I had a major work deadline.
Check out the new supply shelves under our stairs, and you’ll find a 36" x 14" shelf with neatly organized stashes labeled “hair care”, “hand sanitizer”, “hand soap”, and “body wash”, as well as one I’m too embarrassed to label “luxury beauty products”. Organizing my backlog of unopened beauty products as part of a month-long orgy of sorting, corralling and (most important!) labeling just about every aspect of our household supplies: Hardware. Board games. Office supplies. Electronics cables. Cleaning products. School supplies.
The only reason I haven’t sorted and labeled my family members is that it takes half a dozen similar objects to make a satisfyingly full bin, and there are only four of them — even if you count the dog.
For years, I’ve had the habit of throwing myself into an organizing frenzy whenever I embark on a major new project. I still remember the way I began the job of preparing a dissertation proposal back in grad school: By researching and sourcing a sheet-fed scanner, and diving into the job of scanning a closet full of file boxes so I could store my records digitally instead. (Those of you who can remember the speed of sheet-fed scanners circa 1997 will be unsurprised to learn that I gave up on that project before I got halfway through my first file box.)
Back in my early years as a work-avoidant systematizer, my organizing binges left me feeling anxious and a bit ashamed. I mean, if you have a big new project, shouldn’t you get started? If you have a looming deadline, shouldn’t you push your personal or organizational projects to the side, at least until you’re within reach of the finish line?
If diving in feels right to you, go for it! I admire people who get their core work done before doing their side projects, just like I admire people who finish all their vegetables before they start on the delicious basket of fresh-baked bread.
But I’m not one of them. And after years of feeling like my organization-based procrastination was a weakness, I’ve come to…