I was thinking about resolving to be more efficient and productive this year. There certainly are enough bits of fluffy advice online toward that end. All those highly structured individuals whose feet hit the floor each morning, and they know exactly what they’ll do next, and then they do it, all day long — I admire them. I am most assuredly not one of them, but I admire them, just like I admire people who don’t fill the driver’s seats of their cars with crumbs, and people who eat five servings of vegetables each day, and people who can play the oboe.

It is problematic, this whole notion of self-improvement, to which I have subscribed hook, line and sinker, chump that I am. It is a wildly unhealthy attitude to begin with, and why I idle online watching Khan Academy videos about logarithms instead of playing Angry Birds like any normal person. Another problem with a goal of an efficient workday is that I do not work a regular nine-to-five, where just being stationed at one’s desk keeps one sorted out, and where one may claim to work the honest 40 hours just by occupying the seat. Rather, I labor irregularly, juggling a hash of self-employment and part-time gigs, wherein any danged fool idea that gets chicken-scratched onto the to-do list soon feels like an ironclad obligation. Being at my desk counts for little. I could very well be sitting there making bouncy-balls out of the office rubber bands.

As both the boss and the employee, I know when the slacker employee is loitering around the water cooler too much. Just imagine my burden of guilt.

Shamefully, I have accomplished little this first week of January, which is no way to start a Brand New Year. I need to get a move on, check jobs madly off lists and achieve things daily. Making crème brulee and gabbing about road conditions with retired guys from Waldoboro on the ham radio during that big snowstorm didn’t exactly count.

Tomorrow, I shall knuckle down and organize. Tomorrow, I tell myself, I shall begin to get stuff done. Maybe I need one of those impressive new planner-calendar-memo books. I wasted some work time recently looking at those online. They cost more than I thought.

The other day I heard about this resolution where people try to save $2,018.00 in 2018. I shouldn’t pick up on such trite nonsense, but I like that idea. $2,018.00 would get me just over 20 hours of Cessna 172 airplane rental time, or roughly 80 draft-beer-and-wood-fired-pizza meals in decent sit-down restaurants. I shall endeavor to save $2,018.00 through parsimony and improved accounting in other places, and spend the savings on favorite activities — like pizza.



Hmm — what to cut back on? I don’t live where I can buy a five-dollar latte on the way to work, so forgoing that can’t be my particular austerity. Maybe I should cut down on dry cleaning. Or manicures.

If you have ever seen me, you get that I am kidding. A manicure? I suppose I could go and get an estimate.…

Sorry. Anyway, I could begin by not ordering one of those high-quality schedule-planner-memo books. That’ll save me easily $30.00. It’s a start.

For resolutions to work, they must be realistic and, above all, tangible. Abstractions like “be a nicer person” get us nowhere, not once that first idiot crosses our path. Most of us do better with something completely devoid of philosophical or sentimental overtones, something like “floss our teeth.”

So, therewith, here goes: I resolve to actually ingest the vegetables I spend money on. Admittedly, I waste a good deal of pocket change each year by allowing my conscience to purchase leafy foods which I do not wish to eat when there is macaroni and cheese to be had instead. Far too many green things shrivel in my produce drawer, freeze at the back of the refrigerator, or are ignored until unpalatable.

The fine print indicates that I am under no obligation to eat all the vegetables I am given, however. Gratis zucchini (or gratuitous kale) may be neglected with clear conscience.

Like any contract worth its legal department, I think each resolution should also come with a small disclaimer or loophole in the footnotes (see “zucchini,” above). In my broad-brush, stated intention to save $2,018.00 during 2018, the agreement clearly indicates that I “do not have to give up pizza.” There could also be an agreement for arbitration, perhaps by uninterested parties such as grown children or random restaurant patrons, and some boilerplate about how the rules are different in various states, like they have in the credit card paperwork. Thus, if traveling over-night to New Hampshire, for example, we do not have to floss our teeth.

Now, work.