Jeff Kruse
Jan. 18, 2023

I did something on January 5 this year that I dread doing.  I removed the holiday decorations from our yard. I have to do this task every year, but I never look forward to doing it.  

Our yard is a focal point for the neighborhood when decorated for the holidays. Vehicles slow down in front of our house to enjoy the scenery. Sometimes, families get out of their cars to take pictures in front of the decorations. This year, some of the younger kids in the neighborhood walked through the display to pet the lighted animals and watch the ice skating Snoopy.

I always try to take the decorations down within the first two weeks of January, but I will sometimes leave them up a little longer to extend the festive joy. The weather this year was nice enough on January 5 (not quite warm but also not frigid). So, I brought the holiday yard decorations in a little earlier than usual.

Some years the January weather refuses to cooperate and offers only sub-freezing days as options to bring in the holiday figures. If I know the temperatures will remain below freezing for an extended period, I spend more time staring out the window planning the most efficient and quickest way to remove the lawn stakes, unplug the decorations, and get everything in the still-freezing but slightly warmer garage as quickly as possible.

Because the temperature was relatively moderate yesterday, I did not spend a lot of time planning. As a result, I was considerably less efficient than I am on the frigid days. Instead of hauling as many extension cords and yard decorations as I could hold on each trip into the garage, I carried only one at a time this year. I had worked at the computer all morning and was significantly behind on my daily steps. So, I used the decoration-removal project to increase my step counts. 

My decision to take my time yesterday reminded me of my years as an associate and junior partner as the end of each year approached. At the first law firm at which I worked, I always billed between 2,200 and 2,400 hours annually. If it looked like I might not hit that range in October, I would find ways (taking on additional work, depositions, drafting more motions, or finding new assignments) to ensure that I hit my personal billable hours goals. In other years, when it looked like I would exceed the upper end of my goal, I would be as efficient as possible with my existing work to stay within the established range. I never wanted to set unrealistic expectations with the higher-ups in the firm.

By taking the “one-at-a-time” approach yesterday, I reached my step count just like I always met the billable hours goals I set for myself.  

Now that our yard is drab and without holiday cheer, I am hoping for snow!