One more thing

It’s become a joke in our household, my proclivity for squeezing in an extra task or chore wherever I can, timing be damned. It’s even earned a name: One More Thing (or ‘OMT,’ if you’re my husband and it’s your job, just as it’s mine for you, to come up with a playful shorthand for my peccadillos).

What does OMT look like on a day-to-day basis?

It might look like leveraging a trip upstairs to use the bathroom as an opportunity to swipe and ferry two more trash bags for the diaper pail in the nursery...and then to return the laundry basket to its home at the foot of our bed...and then to give the plants on the landing a splash of water (and, and, and). After all, I’m going upstairs anyway.

And while I'm in the bathroom, I might as well give the sink and counter a quick wipe-down...and then top off the hand soap dispenser...and then stuff the old towels and bathmat down the laundry chute before replacing them with fresh ones (and, and, and). After all, I'm already upstairs.

But what if I was going upstairs to use the bathroom before we take the baby on a walk?

Probably not the ideal time to squeeze in seven more chores, huh?

Here I've (mostly) exaggerated the number of One More Things I'd typically add to a bathroom trip, but you get the idea.

So, what is it about the OMT that has me hooked?

Part of it is that I see an opportunity to accomplish more with the same single action. A strategic piggybacking, if you will.

Good in theory, but am I really accomplishing more with the same single action...or am I actually creating a heap of additional mini-actions, thereby prolonging the time it takes to accomplish the one thing I set out to do in the first place?

I'll let you guess the answer to that question.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with being focused on efficiency (and while it often means I get lots of little things done in most of my waking moments), it also means I’m always trying to engineer whatever the immediate present need is to accommodate a whole slew of cling-ons. My husband would point out that in so doing, I actually forfeit the efficiency I was seeking...and, possibly, lose sight of the initial task altogether.

It feels really virtuous in the moment (so many things crossed off my list! An immediately lighter mental load!), but I'll tell you right now that it’s not helping 1. my already-shot attention span (hello, new parenthood), 2. my ability to see a single task through to completion, or 3. my awareness of and respect for my priorities. And though it worked pretty well for me before I became a mother, it's not particularly sustainable nowadays.

That's what I'm working on this month. Becoming aware of my OMT tendency and scaling it back wherever I can, the best I can, even if it means leaving a lot of small tasks lying around for later.

Do you have an OMT streak, too? How's it working for you? Share in the comments below.