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The Magic of Garlic

Posted by Sue on Nov 11, 2013  

With snow predicted, I finally took the time to plant garlic. Digging in the dirt in November sends my heart a-pitter-patter. I may not have my snow tires on the car, but at least I’ve got a crop of garlic in the ground. I’m now ready for winter.

There’s a certain magic in planting bulbs or, as a dear octogenarian gardener friend of mine says, “Putting them to bed for the winter.” You prepare the soil (garlic likes it rich with humus), dig in compost or manure, loosen and stir up the dirt ’til it looks like chocolate mousse (I always think of the Ents from Tolkien here), dig trenches and then nestle in the bulbs and cover them up. Patting down the soil reminds me of gently patting a baby’s back as she’s falling asleep.

I’m always surprised when the crocuses and daffies and tulips pop up. I never remember what I planted where, so it feels like magic. But the garlic is not so random. I watch the garlic bed, awaiting the tiny shoots that herald spring. For some folks, the robin is the first vernal sign. For me, it’s the garlic. Shooting up out of the earth, green and singing of spring, it brings the promise of pesto and roasted cloves on French bread and its sweet smell simmering in butter …

What does planting garlic have to do with organizing? Well, it may be a stretch, but there are certain organizing activities we do which, just like planting garlic, have no immediate reward. Time management, which is really organizing hours and minutes, is one such task. For example, when you take the time to organize your medical and dental appointments, scheduling out into the future, you’re taking control of your time. Besides peace of mind, there’s no immediate reward. But you’ve made the space to care for yourself, chosen times that suit your schedule, and been proactive about your health; subtle, but powerful payback for a few minutes spent on the phone organizing your time.

It’s often hard to convince ourselves to do these tedious to-dos. If your list is full of short-term-pain-long-term-gain tasks, try these strategies:

  1. Choose three and write them on a separate piece of paper; index cards work great. By isolating a couple of the tasks from the rest of the pile, you’re cutting through overwhelm. Don’t worry about prioritizing, unless a quick glance reveals something that must be done immediately.
  2. Set a timer for 10 minutes and race the clock to finish one of the tasks. The little rush of adrenaline helps to focus your brain.
  3. Reward yourself for finishing all three tasks. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Even a game (not 7) of computer Solitaire is a nice reward.
  4. Set aside an evening with a friend who also has a list. Brew a pot of decaf and indulge in some foo-foo cookies (the kind that are $5 for a box of 4). Bring your lists and any adjunct materials needed, and dig in. An organizing buddy is a great way to stay focused and on task, even if you’re not doing the same thing.

What’s your favorite strategy for completing those “plant now, eat later” tasks? Remember, a little garlic goes a long way!

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