“You’re on laundry today.” slave-driving mom tells her able-bodied child.

“No. No-ho-ho-ho… Laundry takes too long!!!” drama kid responds.

“Sorry, pal.” Not really “I already washed a load for you. So put those clothes in the dryer then head upstairs to get the dirty ones out of your sister and brother’s rooms.”

“Gross!!! … It’s toooo-whoo-whooooo much!!!”

“Just do it.”

He moves toward the washing machine and states the obvious as he begins to transfer items into the drier, “But the clothes are wet!”

As he opens the dryer he sees a job left undone. Whoever did the last load succeeded in moving the clothes from washer to the dryer (I can’t tell you how many times I forget and find myself re-washing a mildewed load), but had stopped there.

“What?!” laundry dude indignantly says in disbelief – as if such a colossal error is below him. He holds up the wet shirt and says, “What am I supposed to do now?! The dryer is full.”

“Unload it.” Then I take the opportunity to share strategy… hoping that it might stick. “But first let’s fluff the clothes. They’re so much easier to fold when they’re warm. And fold them right when you take them out. It’s best to complete the job rather than save some for later.”

Hmm… boy could I use that in my life. I find myself half-jobbing all the time. I know that part of it is being a mom. Throw in a load of kids and good luck finishing anything. According to studies, unfinished tasks or “Open Loops” can be equally, if not more, stressful than life’s major stressors (like moving, changing jobs, divorce, …). David Allen, management consultant and executive coach, describes them as “anything pulling at your attention that doesn’t belong where it is.” It’s our to-do lists, the things that we’ve put off until tomorrow, the less-pressing needs that clump together and sit at the back of our mind humming like white noise. Allen’s main point is that we need to methodically remove tasks from our running list by completing them. Quit putting them off. Then we free our schedules and minds from all the the undones by closing open loops.

Who knew laundry could offer such a great reminder for me to get my stuff done in the moment rather than putting it off and letting it fester.

One kid still didn’t want to know – especially now that he had to finish a sibling’s job. (Hmmm… maybe another collateral damage of open loops – someone else might have to come along and complete my undone.)

“The dishes. That’s all I wanted to do,” the mistreated child moans. “Do I have to do laundry, it’s too much?!!”

“Laundry is part of living in this house.”

“I guess I’ll just have to live in the yard then.”

There you have it. … Thanks for walking the road with me.


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