A clean slate | Mark’s Remarks

Right before Christmas vacation, I encourage my students to clean out their lockers and get organized.

“It’s nice to come back after vacation and have everything neat and tidy,” I say. Some of them heed my advice, and some don’t.

Still, we take a few minutes on the last day of school to straighten up. We take down the Christmas décor and squirt a little 409 on our desks. We change the calendar and put the date up on the board for our January return.

Then, I go home and start thinking about the drawer in the kitchen or my toolbox or my closet. Yep, all of them are in need of a New Year’s cleaning too. So, they are added to my mental list.

It’s usually around now that I decide to really start cleaning up. No, none of it really got done over break. Something about getting back into a schedule motivates me. Tasks are easier to get done for some reason.

Did you ever experience this? It happens to me all the time. I start summer vacation with great ambitions, too. I hit the ground running, and sometimes I accomplish much on the first couple of days. But soon, I adjust to the summer schedule or lack of one, and find that the day just gets away from me.

I’ve talked to some of my retired colleagues who have said they find that they aren’t able to accomplish as much as they thought they’d be able to.

When I actually sit down and clean out a couple of drawers or pull things out of that closet, I find that it doesn’t take as much time as I thought it was going to. Indeed, I got a closet and a couple of drawers cleaned out in a little over an hour. The pantry in the kitchen took a little longer, but the results were rewarding.

How many “around to it” jobs do we put off and then find that they really don’t take much time? I wonder how much easier it would be if we had a little “on” switch for that area of our lives?

Did you ever see the “Bewitched” show where Samantha would have a great task to accomplish? She’d wiggle her nose and suddenly everything would move in fast forward with some frenzied music playing in the background. In a matter of minutes, a huge task would be completed. I saw an episode the other day and thought that I’d like to have a little dose of that magic from time to time.

I wonder why time management is so hard. Maybe it’s because we try to cram too much into our lives. Maybe it’s because we really aren’t supposed to worry about mundane tasks.  I mean really. We end up cleaning out the closet when we are in desperate need of finding something. It would make life easier if we kept it clean all the time, but in reality, that’s not always possible.

OK, reading back through this column has motivated me. I’m going to go start on that toolbox now. Maybe I’ll get to the bathroom closet later.

I’m sure there is some outdated sinus medication in there that I need to pitch.

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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