Pushing peas off the plate…


When I was a kid, I hated peas.  Well, OK – I still do.  But these days, I will (begrudgingly) eat them anyway, because I know they’re supposed to be good for me.  (I draw the line at lima beans, though.  I tried them – twice.  No dice.)

Anyway, when I was a kid (deja vu), I would obviously eat the other food on the plate (the chicken, mashed potatoes, and usually one other item) first, so that when it came to the peas, I could take a few bites and then claim (truthfully) to be full.

And if that didn’t work?  I pushed them off my plate and under the lip – you know, when the rim of the plate comes off the table and leaves a small space underneath….just small enough to hide a few peas? …. Yep.

So now I have this brilliant concept I came up with a few years ago when we started school without sufficient amounts of Vaseline on hand: when my personal plate gets full, I prevent burnout by moving a few activities/commitments/tasks off the list – in essence, pushing the excess peas off my plate.

It works really well. I mean, there’s a limit – you can’t just turn into an inert gas and sit there.  And there’s fine print – you can’t just neglect to pay a bill and say, “welp, I pushed some peas off the plate this month!”  It doesn’t work quite that way.

But in these hectic days, where the “little things” can make or break your sanity, sometimes being able to blow off a minor errand or meeting can be very liberating.

See, this is one of the perks of being self-employed – you get a whole lot more say-so over your own schedule.  Working for someone else but more independently is the next best thing.  In either situation, you’re free to prioritize, and you’re not necessarily obligated to get every little thing done (although sometimes it may sure as hell seem like it).

I used to process payment for lab orders through my office.  Now I let the patient deal directly with the labs themselves, which really isn’t a chore – rather, it’s quite painless and it costs less.  Meanwhile, frees up a lot of time on my end.  I hand them the orders and it’s done and over with.  Clean.  Felt good to push that pea right off the plate.

I did health talks in my practice.  For a year.  To two people.  One of whom was already a patient, and the other who had referred others but was never going to be a patient himself.  It was more of a community service, really.  Even if it was just a community of two diehards.  As appreciative as I was of their dedication and support, and as much as I cherished the twice-monthly gathering, I decided enough was enough, and I pushed that pea off the plate.

See?  Liberating.  Simplifying.  I’m not good at eliminating clutter from anywhere else in my life – hell, my email account is filled with emails going back 8 years – but I’m great at eliminating clutter from my to-do list.


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