Is Your Work Chute Clogged?

This is my third article lately relating laundry to work. Not sure why I’m so laundry obsessed these days. I take my writing inspiration where I can get it. Lately, my laundry has been rather inspiring. Next week, it might be a manhole cover or a dream about angry penguins that leads to my next observation. In any case, I’m glad you read them all, even if you don’t like laundry, manhole covers, or penguins.

I think laundry chutes are cool. Always have. When I was a kid, I think I tried to squeeze myself into one so I could magically transport myself to the basement. It’s a foggy memory, so it may or may not be real. Or maybe I went head first.

Why laundry chutes are cool:

1. They save many, many trips up and down the stairs.
2. They instantly and happily swallow work you’d rather not do right now.
3. They funnel dirty clothes into a convenient pile, which in my house has reached heights of nearly 6 feet – a true wonder to behold.

If laundry shoots have a flaw it’s that they’re always a little smaller than I’d like them to be. I’m sure this is to keep kids like me from shooting themselves face first into the concrete floor of the basement. 

You see, I inevitably try to cram an armful of shirts, socks, and underwear into the shoot all at once. Sometimes I get lucky and the clothes slide down slowly together and complete the journey. Other times, it just completely clogs.

When a clog occurs, what do you have to do? Take the clothes out until the clog shrinks enough to send the clothes on their way. Then you send the remaining pieces one or two at a time until the entire pile has been successfully transferred.

My inbox at work has become a clogged laundry chute. I’ve got so many items in my inbox that I’ve become a bit paralyzed. I’ve been trying to attack several things at once and found (once again) that approach is really not effective. It’s like shoving too many jeans into the laundry shoot all at once. 

So today, I’m pulling all the work out of my inbox, prioritizing it, and sending it through the shoot one or two at a time. And as time consuming as that sounds, I know that it will be much more efficient in the long run. It also means that some important stuff won’t get done right away, because it’s all important, right? When it’s stuck in the shoot it’s not getting done anyway.

I’m not clogged because I’m the worlds most unorganized person. I’m actually fairly organized. I tend to get clogged when I’m super busy. And I’ve been super busy lately. But being super busy makes it really, really hard to stop and unclog, doesn’t it?

Stop and unclog anyway. 

Take an hour or two or ten to just process. Pile everything into your inbox and then prioritize and process each item. Organize your to-do list, delegate the stuff you should delegate, and trash the stuff that’s not really important (amazing how much I find in this category when I unclog).

If you think your boss won’t understand, explain it this way: “I could sit here for three weeks and do nothing because I’m paralyzed, or I could take a half-day to clean up my desk and get organized so I can totally rock my job on Monday.”

I’m a boss. I’d buy that.

It’s not that hard, it just takes time. If you really need help, David Allen’s Getting Things Done is the book that might change your life. I recommend this as a last resort because, well, it puts two more items (buying the book and reading the book) on your pile. I know if I added two things to my pile right now, I might accidentally trigger a self-induced coma that only a six month vacation on St. Thomas could cure. Can’t afford that yet, so I’m going to process my inbox instead.

Hold my calls. I’m diving down the shoot. See you next week.


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