LOS ANGELES — The editorial director for American Drycleaner asked if I’d write this month’s column to match up with one of the edition’s themes: energy efficiency.
“Sure,” I said, “I devote my life to being energy-efficient—although my wife more often refers to it as lazy.” I will admit to keeping the remotes when we get new cable TV boxes so I don’t need to expend the energy just looking for a single remote when there are two in the room. In the summer, we continually feed our dog treats so we can use his tail as a fan.
And I do save the need to fly to Florida by having my wife’s mom live with us. There’s a downside to it: no matter how cold we keep the house in the winter, she doesn’t talk about moving out. Her stride’s a little slower; could be age, may be frostbite.
And, yes, I drive a Prius. No, not to drag race or because ugly is the new black, but because the thing drives OK and once you start saving a couple hundred dollars a month on gas, you get addicted. It’s like a gateway drug to going solar—just how much can I save. I start to look at my bills each month, looking to get this month’s costs lower than last month’s costs lower than the month before that. Seeing a light on when no one’s in the room does make me twitch a little.
Each month I get more and more invoices electronically, pay more bills by check without actually writing one, have conferences with potential partners and buyers without leaving my computer. I am a walking, talking energy-efficiency specialist, though my wife would rather see me walk more and talk less, and burn some more calories, and she’s right on that one.
Can I put together an article about how people can be more energy-efficient? How about I offer just a single piece of advice. This week, get something off your plate. If you’re like me, you keep a mental or written list about all the projects you want to do, all the different things you are hell-bent on accomplishing.
Pick one. Whether it’s calling the painter to refresh your exterior, buying the new dryers, updating your company website or seeking out a new accountant, choose a to-do item and do it.
I talk to people all the time who describe being completely overwhelmed with the litany of tasks they need to accomplish. They spend so much time—and so much energy—talking about their mountain of responsibilities, the mountain only gets bigger and bigger. Procrastination may, on its surface, look like the act of doing nothing, but it requires a great deal of thought: thinking about the things you want to do or need to get done but you’re not doing.
If you look at my Facebook profile, it tells you my college major was procrastination. I don’t think I picked my major until after I graduated. But as I’ve aged, I realize procrastination is, shockingly, the biggest internal energy-waster there is. Most of us spend more time agonizing about how we have to put our tax materials together than actually putting our tax materials together.
So yes, I can write a column about being more energy-efficient. You can change your light bulbs, you can put timers on your electronics, you can be more fuel-efficient… but if efficiency is also about getting things done faster, easier and with less stress, it’s not all about electricity and reducing waste, it’s also about making your life more efficient.
Now you’ll have to excuse me, there’s some Halloween candy I have to throw out.