The Little S**t

These days, almost all of us face not only the principal requirements of our occupation, but also all sorts of little chores and duties, both at work and at home, and I’ve noticed that most people take one of two approaches to dealing with the “little shit.” The most common approach is to ignore it until it either goes away or until it can’t be ignored any longer, often in order to concentrate on “the important stuff.” The second approach is to devote almost all available time to the little shit, usually because the individual really doesn’t want to deal with his or her major occupational requirements.

Because people are different, different methods are in order for different personalities. Since I’m mildly obsessive-compulsive, anything left undone nags at me. So back when I was managing lots of people in a situation where there were unending urgent demands from people who couldn’t be ignored [yes… it was in my political life], I devoted the first hour of the day to dealing with as much of the little stuff as I could. That way, the list of the little items didn’t become longer every day, and my subconscious had less to worry about.

As a full-time writer I still follow that general formula, if not quite so rigidly, answering email, updating the website, even paying the bills, etc., before I get down to what earns the money to pay the bills, and that’s the writing. For me, that approach means I have less on my mind to distract me from writing, but one reason why that works for me is that the little stuff is secondary to writing, and I just want to handle it as efficiently as possible. I also know that most of it doesn’t go away, and it often multiplies if unaddressed.

But… that’s me.

I know others, writers among them, who would never get around to doing real work if they followed my approach, because they’d never escape the little stuff, which they find more appealing than dealing with what they ostensibly should be doing. So…they need to set firm limits on dealing with less important matters.

Then, there’s the third group…whose “little stuff” would consume their entire day, even if handled quickly and efficiently. All they can do to survive is triage the little stuff, ignoring what can be safely ignored, delegating anything that can be delegated, and dealing with anything that is likely to multiply immediately before it can… while making time to hunt for a new job.

2 thoughts on “The Little S**t”

  1. Michael Creek says:

    One of the least attractive consequences of the internet is proliferating spam. Every day my email account is inundated with marketing material. I have my spam filters set up to minimize this flood, but, while they do a mostly good job, sometimes they mis-categorise and vital emails get lost. End result, I have to waste time wading through junk to occasionally find a pearl (or more probably, a time critical handgrenade).

  2. Tim says:

    Your are right about the time-critical grenade. When email became the usual means of communicating, as you rose in the ranks you soon learned to read all email, especially those where you were on the cc: list.

    The reason : some peers would try to criticise your department and at the same time added more senior managers to the cc: list.

    This meant you always checked emails – late on Friday was a vulnerable time for such email or when you went on leave unless you had a very savvy and trustworthy no.2.

    I probably only found two of these “grenades” in 15 or so years but they were very necessary to defuse. After that I was never free from the PC.

    Glad I am now retired.

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