I hate mosquitos.
No. I mean I really hate mosquitos.
The other night, I stepped outside onto our deck to take a look at the full moon, and I was instantly attacked by a squadron of them eager for a late night snack.
I swatted and fanned for a while, but never managed to deter them. I eventually came inside.
Mosquitos are such tiny insects, but they manage to create an annoyance that far exceeds their actual size. And if I don’t deal with the problem, I end up with an itchy welt that lasts for days, which is even more annoying.
That’s why I use the term Mosquito Problem to describe small annoyances that cause more trouble than their size warrants. Mosquito Problems often leave me thinking “I need to make a rule for myself about that.”
The very first personal rule I ever wrote for a mosquito problem came about because I had a friend who loved spur of the moment activities. She’d call up and say “Whatcha doing?” and if I (stupidly!) replied “nothing” she’d instantly supply plans for the two of us for the evening, assuming (wrongly!) that I’d love to give up my quiet evening to so go out on the town.
Eventually, I trained myself to respond with “I’m kinda in the middle of something right now” (a.k.a. …reading my book) and made The 24-Hour Rule, which simply means if I don’t know about an engagement or invitation at least 24 hours in advance of when it is taking place, my automatic response is “No, I already have plans.”
It was a big solution to a small problem, but over the years, my 24-Hour Rule has been a lifesaver when it comes to making decisions about last minute activities.
Since then I’ve come up with lots of other personal rules.
There’s the No Showers Rule, because I don’t do baby showers or wedding showers; the No Band Candy Rule, which is code-speak for not buying from school fundraisers (I’d be broke and weigh 500 pounds from all the chocolate bars); and the Algebra Rule, which means I don’t add new responsibilities and commitments without getting rid of the same number (or more) of old responsibilities and commitments.
As a bonus, I’ve also noticed people respond more positively to hearing “I have a personal rule that I don’t buy band candy from anyone” than a straight “no.” I think it’s because it’s so clearly not personal.
I’ve also made positive rules like Always Get a Yard, which means that if I fall absolutely in love with a quilt fabric I always buy at least a yard — then at least I’ve got enough fabric to “do something” with. Another positive rule is Always Make the Bed, so even if my day goes straight down the tubes, I’ve gotten at least one productive thing accomplished.
When there are mosquito problems, sometimes a personal rule is an answer.