Sahil Bloom’s Friday Five emails I find to be packed with short, interesting tidbits.  In a recent one, he talked about the Laundry Cycle Theory.  Bloom had been inspired by an exchange on the Mel Robbins Podcast:

Mel: I’m probably not the only person that looks at a pile of laundry and I see it as evidence there’s something wrong with me that I can’t get the laundry done.

KC Davis: We’re used to going, is the laundry done or is it not done? Your laundry exists in a cycle. You have clothes that are clean in the closet. You have clothes that are on your body. You have clothes that are dirty on the floor. you have clothes that are dirty in the hamper…That’s a cycle. It’s ok for any of it to be in that cycle.

Bloom also quotes another author I enjoy, Oliver Burkeman, and I remember actually seeing this quote somewhere, about how it is much healthier see your pile of books to be read as a river rather than a bucket.  Books come and go from it, but it flows past, and when you feel like you have time to read, you pull from it.  But it’s always there, as a source, not as something that demands to be ‘emptied’.

We are so good at seeing things as either ‘done’ or ‘undone’.  And like the laundry, there will always be things that are in a part of a cycle that looks like ‘undone’.  Washing dishes at Sparrow is good training for me on this.  Because dishes keep coming; plates and cups and utensils from customers, pans and bowls and tools from the bakers, tools and plates and bins from the savory line, baking trays as they get emptied by the front staff, bottles and pitchers and tools from the baristas…. Some dishes are clean and waiting to be used.  Some dishes are being used by staff or by customers.  Some dishes are dirty waiting in bins.  Some are in the dishwasher being washed, or in the tray drying, waiting to be put away. There are ebbs and flows, but it’s always moving.  And while there are things to watch for so that production is unimpeded, it’s basically never done until hours after closing, and then it’s only done until 5 a.m. the next morning when the bakers arrive again.

When things pile up, it creates anxiety.  Of course, for me at least, when there’s nothing that needs to be done, that creates disquiet also (at least in a theoretical sense, not saying this has ever actually happened to me.)  So instead of thinking about things as ‘done’ or ‘not done’, can we think of them more as a cycle, that we’re somewhere in the middle of?

I had a realization years ago from a sermon where our pastor talked about there being ‘seasons of life.’  To me it was a great reminder that things can change for a season.  Maybe right now I don’t get outside as often as I would like.  But I realize that the launch of my book is a season.  The season will change, and I will get back to getting outdoors.  So I don’t stress about it now, because I realize it’s just a season.

I hope that something you’re worried about doing today can be converted to a ‘laundry cycle’ item, rather than an ‘undone’ item… or that something can be chalked up to a ‘season of life’ situation, rather than something to be anxious about.


  1. I’ve heard the phrase season of life, but always took this linearly, as in a season of college or a season working in a particular job. This blog opened my eyes to the recurring nature of it. We may all be getting older and certain experiences won’t repeat indefinitely, but we can look forward to a new season that will bring change at least reminiscent of previous times.

    I hope to also get back to getting outdoors more.

    1. I hadn’t thought of something until you commented, but I guess there may be seasons that we are looking forward to ending… like seasons of suffering… and hoping they DON’T repeat! And yet, there are always ups and downs, so knowing that nothing lasts forever can be a comfort too.

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