Hawke's Bay Today

Timing by dishwasher

- Wyn Drabble Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.

Trouble is that by the end of the day, neither has been done though, to be fair, you might have got halfway through the toenails.

For most of my working life I have subscribed to the view that if you want a job done well, you should give it to a busy person. Busy people seem to be better at time management, better at getting stuff done.

The concept, with minor variations in wording, has been around for yonks and is often attributed to — among others — Benjamin Franklin, Lucille Ball, Elbert Hubbard. Also Mr (or Ms) Anonymous.

This of course raises the question: Who is Elbert Hubbard? Well, I can tell you that he was an epigrammis­t who lived from 1856 to 1915. This raises the further question: What exactly is an epigrammis­t and are there plenty of job opportunit­ies?

Anyway, my soon-to-be-over sabbatical has done nothing to weaken my belief. It can get to the stage where one day’s “Things to do list (URGENT)” looks like this: Clip toenails

Buy milk

Trouble is that by the end of the day, neither has been done though, to be fair, you might have got halfway through the toenails.

Okay, I admit I have exaggerate­d. But that’s certainly how it feels.

Further evidence is provided by a simple domestic task, my modus operandi for which has changed during my sabbatical.

Unloading the dishwasher is a simple matter but, during my relaxed time off — I’m almost too embarrasse­d to share this with you — I broke it down into two separate stages.

The first stage involved the actual emptying onto the bench which is not too different from normal because when the dishwasher door is down in our kitchen it blocks off access to a number of the places where the dishes need to go. It is not at all a welldesign­ed kitchen.

But my new method was to leave the unpacked dishes on the bench and go away and do something else (have a lie-down, for example) then come back at a later time to put the dishes in their allocated spaces.

This, of course, is nothing short of . . . well . . . silly.

Time is one of our most precious resources and, as someone famous probably said, “You can’t buy more and you never know when you’re going to run out of it.”

This is probably the reason some people eschew daytime naps; they say that’s valuable time you’re wasting. Not I. Mine only ever last 20 minutes or so and that ethereal state of dozing off and coming to consciousn­ess again is a treasure worth having. It has to end because it’s probably time to put the dishes away.

A related (and seemingly true) idea is that the more time you have for a task, the longer you take to do it. Ask any student — preferably one who has four weeks to complete an internal assessment but crams it all into the last one or two days.

Or any teacher who is old enough to have learned that the three or four days’ work that must be done over the holidays is best done on the first three or four days, not the last.

As proverbial wisdom says, “Time waits for no one.” I think it used to say, “Time waits for no man,” but that got changed with decimalisa­tion or something.

Proverbial wisdom also says, “It’s not that we have little time, but more that we waste a good deal of it.” Those were the words of Seneca and he lived from 4 BC to AD 65, well before decimalisa­tion of currency.

So I guess I shouldn’t grumble about going back to work soon — I imagine the benefit will be that I’ll get so much more done.

“Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind” — Nathaniel Hawthorne.

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