Annoying things to clean

Annoying things to clean

Every Sunday I spend a couple of hours doing food prep. I make four lunches and four dinners for the following week. This is something I recommend everyone do as it makes it a lot easier to maintain a healthy diet. It also saves a lot of time because I only need to cook and clean up once instead of four times.

The only real problem is that you are eating the same thing every day and for some this can be a problem.

But that's not the point of this post. This one is about Tupperware.

Those famous plastic food storage boxes.

They are useful in general but essential for food prep because you will of course need somewhere to store the food. The problem with them is that they are really annoying to clean.

The lids have these ridges that hold on to water and make them damn near impossible to dry properly. If you microwave your food in the box there will be some residue cooked into the box itself that's not going anywhere no matter how hard you scrub. They can go in the dishwasher but are still annoying even when you have a machine clean them for you. Water clings to the plastic so you have to dry them anyway, the machine doesn't seem able for that.

On Monday I arrived home from work and threw my lunch box down by the sink.

"I'll wash it later," I told myself.

I didn't.

On Tuesday I arrived from work and threw my lunch box down by the sink.

"I'll wash it later," I told myself.

I didn't.

On Wednesday I arrived home from work and threw my lunch box down by the sink.

"I'll wash it later," I told myself.

It's now Thursday and there is a stack of boxes by the sink. Instead of one thing to wash I now have three things to wash. Three annoying things.

"I haven't got time to deal with all that now, I have to go out and meet a friend. I should have just done it at the time..." And so the pile keeps getting bigger.

What does it all mean

There's a general rule I try to follow:

If something takes 5 minutes or less to do, then do it now

This applies to things like emptying the dishwasher, hanging clothes out to dry, taking the bins out etc...

All things that are just kind of annoying to do but are easy and not time consuming.

The problem with these little tasks is that because they are so trivial they are also easy to dismiss, but they build up over time and turn into bigger jobs.

This is all debt that will continue to accrue and, just like financial debt, you are building a mountain that may be a lot more difficult to scale in the future.

The question is really this - are you better off doing four individual five minute chunks of work throughout the day or a single twenty minute task at the end of the day?

It's all the same in terms of the actual amount of time spent, however your ability to schedule that work has become more difficult.

It's a lot easier to find five minutes free in your day than twenty. Procrastinating on and accumulating tasks means that you need to allocate more time in the future, time that is less likely to be available.

If you add a couple more small tasks  to the pile you end up with a larger thirty minute chunk of work that is harder still to get scheduled.

Sure you could try tackle it in five minute chunks, but you will only be getting through work as quickly as it is building up. At some point you will need to put some dedicated time to get back to manageable work load.

So remember, if it only takes five minutes then do it now. You will be avoiding technical debt and your future self will thank you for it.

The law of conservation of effort

The law of conservation of effort

A random walk

A random walk