Monday, August 15, 2011

Cleaning the Can and Keeping the Trash

I tend to function from a to-do list. Each week it has more items on it than I can manage during that time, and I don't actually expect to complete everything there, but it is a place to keep track of what needs to be done, what merits attention with less urgency, and which other things might be worth considering. When I look at the week ahead, I prioritize based on a variety of factors. It usually works pretty well.

Sometimes, though, my priorities list becomes a bit distorted along the way. I occasionally find myself focusing time and energy on tasks that are neither urgent nor important, simply because they are easy. Getting those tasks done allows me to tell myself that I have tackled things, without requiring much investment -- not inherently bad, except to the degree that it keeps me from focusing on what is most important.

While driving home recently, I saw a bright yellow truck with happy-faced cartoon trash cans painted onto it in several places, along with company information. From all that, I imagined a vehicle dedicated to washing out trash cans, and I laughed. It was a funny thought.

Turns out, it is also reality. Their business intends to "help you protect your family by making sure your garbage can remains sanitized and bacteria free."

It is indeed very important to protect families, and good sanitation is an important part of overall health. Germy trash cans probably fit in the category of potential threat, like the deer mice. Cleaning out mucky trash cans probably fits on the to-do list somewhere.

At the same time, there may be much bigger issues -- in families, in finances, in friendships, in workplaces, and everywhere else. It is sometimes tempting to become distracted into focusing much time and energy on relatively small issues in interactions because the little things are easier to deal with than the more difficult ones that could make a world of difference.

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