All in its own time

By Joanne Peterson | Dec 29, 2011

In my kitchen, I keep a hand-lettered sign on the door of a cupboard. “Do the Worst Thing First,” it commands.

Most people who step into my kitchen notice the little sign.

Often they read it aloud and comment on it.

“Is that what you do?” a friend asked me. “The worst thing first?”

Well, the answer is “No,” and it’s probably silly to torment myself by posting those words where I see them every day.

In fact, by nature, I am apt to put off doing that Worst Thing for one day and then another day and then a week, during which time I feel increasingly discouraged every time I look at the small sign.

Whatever the particular task is, the Worst Thing haunts me, hanging around, reminding me that I need to just get on with it, and that later there will be plenty of time to do more appealing tasks.

Given the opportunity, though, I usually do the Best Things first.

Let’s see…the floor of my tiny kitchen needs a good scrubbing. That’s a small task, I realize, but for me it’s one of the Worst Things. I hate doing it. Well, I guess I’d better get to it, hadn’t I?

Wait, though. I have at least six books prompting me to head toward the couch, with its fluffy throw and inviting pillows.

Quite likely, I’d do a better job scrubbing that floor if first I read a few chapters and enjoyed a cup of tea before tackling the Worst Thing. 

As I’ve been writing this, considering that small sign in my kitchen, I’ve begun to be suspect of its worth.

“Do the Worst Thing First” might be a helpful prompt for some people, a practical reminder.

For me, though, I wonder whether it was a good idea to post it.

It doesn’t give a nudge to get to work so much as it adds a note of tension to my day every time I look at it. And who needs more tension?

The five words on my cupboard door look innocent enough but might not accomplish any useful purpose.

Soon I’ll probably be making a list of New Year’s Resolutions.

It’s one way of acknowledging the gift of a new year, as it brings opportunities for growth and change.

I don’t know yet what I’ll put on that list this year, but I want every item to be something healthy and positive. I’m not interested in listing anything that will end up hanging over my head like a black cloud.

I just walked to the kitchen and removed “Do the Worst Thing First” from my cupboard door.

Now that it's in the recycle bin, I think I’ll read for a while.

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