Last week I had a completely free night (a rare occurrence) and I did something I have never done before.
I ironed my clothes.
I know, you want to shower me with praise for this monumental innovation in personal development and time consumption, right? Okay, but seriously, I’ll tell you why this is important: I HATE ironing. It takes up time, you iron one side of a sleeve, flip it over and iron the other side, then flip it back and realize you created a crease and need to iron that back out, etc. It’s a whole production, and frankly wrinkle release spray has been my best friend for the better part of a decade.
I realized earlier in that week that I only utilize maybe half of my wardrobe. I have a lot of clothes that I like, but I typically snooze three times too many in the morning and am in a rush to get ready. As a result, I rarely have time to iron my clothes. So, I look at my closet after getting in the shower and rely on the other 50%, 100% of the time. I don’t give myself enough time to iron and inevitably fall back on the clothes that managed to either make it to the drycleaner after the last wear, or made it out of the load of laundry wrinkle-free (or with a few wrinkles that my trusty wrinkle release spray straightens).
I thought about how much I was limiting myself and decided to dedicate a chunk of time to iron not one shirt, but 13! I spent about two hours ironing. I know, I’m so cool.
What I realized was that this was about more than just taking wrinkles out of some shirts. I was limiting my wardrobe, which in turn limits me as a person. Fashion is an expression of self, and by only wearing half of what I own, there’s still half of me left to be expressed. When I can fully express myself, I am more confident. When I’m more confident, I have better interactions, and better experiences. Ironing is just one little, annoying step in a process of self-fulfillment.
When I came to this conclusion, I figured this applies to other types of non-linear processes as well. While at work, when putting certain proposals together for a client, I typically put it off until absolutely necessary because there is something involved in the proposal that’s really annoying that I don’t want to do. There might be six other things that are fun, but I will put off doing any of it because I know it will lead to the dreaded, annoying 7th thing. And if I plan to do the 7th thing in pieces over the course of a few days, it makes me want to put off the other six even more because I’ll have to that annoying 7th multiple times over.
Instead, doing that annoying thing first, and all at once could ‘unlock’ the rest of the proposal. When you just get it out of the way, you have only steps to look forward to, and not dread. Remove the barrier completely instead of trying to work around it.
I could keep my clothes as they are, and continue with the plan of iron on a need-to-wear basis, but the fact is I'm not going to stop wanting to hit the snooze button and Ill continually not have time to iron. OR, I could iron everything at a time when I have nothing to get ready for, and actually get it done.
I must say, I’m looking quite dapper today.
Rajiv Nathan is the co-founder of Idea Lemon with a background in digital and mobile strategy. He is passionately curious, a people-meeter and lives by the motto, "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take."