(last edited on February 15, 2023 at 12:27 pm)
Today’s MicroTask is even tinier than yesterday’s: Look inside a box.
There has been a large box full of paper samples sitting in my living room for a couple of months. It’s been a symbol both of future project excitement and how much I dislike clutter. I’d avoided looking inside the box because I wasn’t ready to kick off that project.
Looking around for today’s microtask, I spied the paper box for the zillionth time, uglying-up the corner of the living room. “I’ll just look inside the box,” I told myself. I winced inwardly as I wrote this down, thinking it to be a ridiculously small task. It felt STUPIDLY small, but small is the criteria of this month’s challenge.
So I looked inside the box. I found a book I’d been looking for, Ray Oldenburg’s The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community. I also found an envelope full of carbonless copy paper, which you can get digitally printed these days; I’d been thinking that might be the basis of a fun product. Underneath that were several labeled 12×19″ envelopes with the paper samples that I remembered, and under the envelopes was a thick block of more paper. I figured they must be extra samples that didn’t make it into the envelopes.
“I should probably make a list of the paper samples here,” I thought, seeing that each envelope had a code identifying its contents. So I started sorting through them manually, discovering that what I thought were extra samples were actually 20 more samples from three other paper mills. Neato!
I immediately thought that I should cut the samples up and assemble paper testing kits, then send them to fountain pen aficionados like this guy to gather their opinions. Assembling kits would mean assembling envelopes and addresses, which would mean I needed to ship them all out. That would be a good reason to give Endicia, the digital postage service, a workout. Which would mean I finally could use the digital postage scale that has been lurking in the basement for a year.
I went into the basement to look for the scale, and saw my old ink jet printer, a wide Canon iX6520. “I wonder if I can print on 12×19 inch paper with this thing,” I wondered, and to my surprise the carriage was wide enough. That meant I could print an identifying code on the papee, which I could cut into smaller strips, and then pack into an envelope for mailing. While I was in the basement, I checked to see if my rotary paper cutter would work, but it was not wide enough. So I got on Amazon and ordered a CARL 18″ rotary cutter (was tempted by the more expensive Dahle and Rotatrim, but didn’t give in); my dinky old cutter will get donated to someone who needs it for smaller papercraft. I just have to wait a couple of days for it to arrive.
I am somewhat amazed that starting with just “look in a box” led to a burst of chained productive activity. It felt good, and even better I didn’t spend a lot of time planning my day to death. Could all my work be this drama-free and still yield meaningful reward?
Today I also had a pretty big insight on the nature between MISSION and CONNECTION as motivating forces, but I’ll save that for another day.
About this Article Series
This is part of a month-long challenge to see if I can make something small every day to learn patience. The April 2015 Challenge Page lists everything in one place...check it out!
That kind of chain is one of the things I fear about micro tasks. (I call them mosquitoes.) I fear that there might be a chain, and no time to deal with it. More tasks to consider, or to clutter my list with. When I finish a chain, it’s awesome, a real sense of competence and accomplishment. When I don’t, it’s discouraging, and then living with the mosquitoes remaining, and then, when I finally do them, it’s anticlimatically depressing.
Your month of micro goals is a great idea, a way to get past that block. Your month of decluttering was another great idea.
(My goal this month is meditating daily. It’s the 8th and I’ve meditated once. Goal is changed to 30 sits before I get to choose another month goal.)