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How My Wood Floors Kept Me From Writing — and Other Horrors

July 8, 2009

I ran into a former colleague who had quit her job as a journalist several years before to write a book. I asked her how the writing went. She said, “I never wrote the book, but my house sure was clean!”

She suffered from what I call the Compulsive Reverse Articles of Priorities syndrome or CRAP. Victims of this malady have a long list in their heads of things they need to do but have been putting off, sometimes for years.

Somehow, either through diligence, soul-searching, job loss, or short-term memory failure, they have reached the fine print at the bottom of their to-do lists — the items that they just copy down each week and that demonstrate how impossibly busy they are every single day of their lives. They know they’ll get to them when the urgent items at the top, like, respond to e-mail from old college roommate looking for a job, have “networking” lunch with office mate you spend 56 hours a week with, and shop for shoes at recently opened DSW warehouse, are satisfyingly crossed off.

When you start getting down the list, women, at least, often find onerous items such as clean out kitchen cabinets, dust grandma’s Depression glass, and clean oven. These homemaking tasks harken back to women’s childhoods of spending time with non-working mothers grooming them for housewifery. (This may not apply directly to you if you were born after 1980, but I guarantee it still applies peripherally in your psyche, at least at some level.) Plus, they’re things the cleaning service won’t do. If you’re a man, comparable items most likely have to do with car or yard maintenance. (I’m just sayin’.)

But it’s the very bottom tier of the list that contains the worst of the worst, such things as change careers, find a marriage counselor, make appointment with struggling kid’s school adviser, or get black belt in karate.

This syndrome can hit anyone. In my case, for example, the last two items on my list are “wax floors,” and “write book.”

So, even with this brief description, it should be painfully obvious that this approach in life is CRAP — indeed, that the diagnosis, itself, can be nothing but CRAP. So, don’t fool around with CRAP. It’s a debilitating disease that means we spend most of our time working hard, accomplishing things in the reverse order of what will actually change and improve our lives. I hope this analysis is clear now. And, I just have one more thing to say: Today, I waxed my floors.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 9, 2009 8:09 pm

    Well said! You are hilarious….and once I got done laughing and nodding my head in the “yes” direction, I had one of those “aha moments” that told me “hey…I do the same thing -oh CRAP!”. Ok, so now I am well informed, and I will NOT fool around with CRAP and what’s more I will directly go to the things that WILL improve my life and stop doing things in reverse order. Thank you for the heads up! So, if you will excuse me…I have to go write my book now!!
    Jeanne

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