Do it now — while the politicians dither

Today is National Do It Now Day.

And what, you wonder, is that?

It's the day that you will dedicate to doing things that have slipped between the cracks of daily living for weeks, months, maybe even years. It's the day you will tame the little tasks that yap at your mind like caged Chihuahuas.

Let the politicians dither. You're going to get things done.

National Do It Now Day doesn't exist on any calendar. The only place it has been proclaimed is right here, right now, in this space.

It was conceived on the recent morning that I looked at a broken window shade in my living room and wondered why I had been looking at that broken shade for years.

Ten years.

Ten years of thinking, "I should get that fixed." Ten years of thinking, "But I have more important things to do."

Ten years of thinking, "But I don't trust my ability to measure for a window shade. And how do I find the best, cheapest shades? What if the cheap ones aren't good? What if the good ones aren't cheap? What if ..."

Ten years stuck in the quicksand of distraction and uncertainty while that shade made me crazy.

Then one day I just did it. Went to Home Depot. Got it done. Fueled by this remarkable achievement, I felt momentum like a brisk wind at my back, and it was on to the bills, the Salvation Army giveaways, the burned-out light bulb.

By the end of the day, I had gotten more pesky chores done than I had in ages. Thus was National Do It Now Day born.

If getting things done were as easy as saying "do it now," of course, we wouldn't need this day. So here are some practical tips to help you beat back the excuses.

First, make a list. Nothing makes a procrastinator feel better than a list. On your list, make categories. For example:

Health. That screening you've been putting off? That checkup? Teeth cleaning? On National Do It Now Day, just make the appointment. Whatever else is sucking up your time, it's not worth getting sick for.

Finances. Something's puzzling you about your medical insurance, your car insurance, your mortgage. Go online or make the call. If you call and wind up on hold, multitask. That pile of bills and charity solicitations? Now's the chance to open them and pay.

Household. That sink is not going to unplug itself no matter how long you wait in hopes that it will. If you don't have a plumber, call a friend and get a name.

Car. If you've been meaning to get it washed, today's your day.

Correspondence. Good news! On National Do It Now Day, you do not have to answer all your email. In fact, you are encouraged to ignore email. The time hog that is email is one reason you haven't done all these other things.

Your mission today is to correspond with one or two people you care about but have neglected. On my recent Do It Now Day, I wrote to an elderly friend I'd been meaning to write for months. Months matter in the life of a 91-year-old.

The note was short, and therein lies a guiding tenet of National Do It Now Day: Keep it simple. This is not the day to begin your novel or repaint the living room.

Other things you do not have to do on National Do It Now Day:

You do not have to reorganize your finances.

You do not have to begin a diet.

You do not have to decide what you're going to do with the rest of your life.

Today is for the tasks that will offer you the instant reward of a job quickly accomplished. And if today doesn't work for you, you can declare another day your Do It Now Day.

Whichever day you pick, commit to it. Get off Facebook. Get off Netflix, unless signing up for Netflix is on your to-do list. And step away from the news.

Rest assured. They'll still be dithering in Washington when you've gotten great things done.

mschmich@tribune.com

CHICAGO

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