Ian Philpot

I have never met a person who found satisfaction in removing garbage from the bin in the kitchen, taking it into the garage (or outside), and putting it into a garbage can.

As a matter of fact, a lot of people put off taking out their garbage.

If we’re honest, we even push the trash down to create space so the next person will have to take it out.

Why do we do this?

Because the process is a little icky.
Because it takes 90 seconds to take it out and replace the bag.
Because we have to go into the garage and then your socks get grimy underneath…

But, deep down, we know taking out the garbage is a good thing.

Have you ever put off taking out the garbage at night and the next morning the kitchen smells like the spoiled leftovers you dumped into the bin? Then you empty half of a Febreeze bottle just to get the house back to normal.

That’s almost exactly how I feel about my ideas.

It seems like every day I have at least one new idea for a story or a play or a strange marketing campaign. (For that reason, I’ve gotten to calling my brain “The Idea Machine.”)

When I have an idea that’s really important and I need to act on it, I’ll write it down in one specific Moleskine notebook or add it to my Evernote and tag it “idea.”

But most of the time, I let the idea come and go. Ideas are so common to me that I don’t treat them appropriately. Instead, I put them off or push them down to create space in my mind for something else.

And I guess that’s a problem we all have. We all put important things off until later. 

It’s almost like it’s a part of our nature (though I can’t imagine this behavior is any sort of evolutionary advantage).

This is not the conclusion you’re looking for.

When I was in my Intro to Archeology course in college, we focused on native North American civilizations.

I remember the teacher talking about large groups of native peoples (think thousands) who would settle in an area for a while. They’d set up their houses and their families and stay there for years.

Then, eventually, the garbage pile at the back of their settlement would get so big and smelly that they would move, because it would be easier for them to move their house rather than move their garbage pile. And they would continue this process again and again and again—almost like they never even considered moving the garbage pile any further away from where they lived (or maybe that was too much of an inconvenience).

I’d like to think that over a few thousand years we’ve become civilized enough to not put off something important until it becomes so bothersome that we need to change our living situation rather than deal with it.

But, if my lost ideas are any indication, I’m not so sure that’s true.