My house is not exactly tidy, but it's much better than it used to be.
But I had to work at it, because I think I have a genetic defect that makes tidying difficult.
It's not that I make huge messes; I generally don't. Instead, it's that when I decide that today I'm going to tackle something-whether it's cleaning a bathroom, doing the dishes, or changing all the sheets-it takes four times as long as it should because I get distracted.
Sometimes it's the phone or the doorbell. More often than not, it's the computer, as I have a strange compulsion to check my email several times an hour, to see the latest pharmaceutical spam. But the main problem is that I have no ability to stick to the task at hand. I'll be making progress tackling the clutter in my bedroom, only to find a dirty dish. So I'll walk down to the kitchen to deposit this bowl into the dishwasher, when I notice the mail that's piled up. As I start to read it, I'll come across a bill that needs to be paid, and head back upstairs to do that. On my way there, I'll find some toys that need to be put in the kids' rooms. And so it goes.
By the time my husband arrives home I'm ready to pounce. I look around at the house, see that it looks worse than when he left, and I figure he must be thinking that most evil of all male thoughts: "what did she do all day?". And as I study his face to detect even the slightest bit of displeasure, the anger on mine is already very visible. So he smiles, not sure what he did wrong, and says how much he loves me. It doesn't work. I'm still cranky. Not a good way to end the day.
What I started doing instead is forcing myself to do only one thing at a time. Isn't that revolutionary? When I am cleaning my room, I stay in my room. I carry a box around with me for things that need to go to other parts of the house, but I don't distribute these items until the bedroom is done. Then at least I have one thing finished at the end of the day.
I also have tasks that I assign myself when I'm bored. Often I'll be in the middle of some job when I get really sick of it. That's when the temptation to check email or get on the phone hit hardest. Instead, I do laundry. It's not glamorous, but it always needs to get done, and folding laundry for 5 minutes at a time gives me the mental break I need from big projects without consuming a ton of time.
And I'll tell you, my house is much easier to live in now! I don't do housework all day; maybe really only for about half an hour or so. When you do a little it everyday, it really isn't that bad.
But now that I've assigned myself one room a day, it works a lot better!
What do you do? I'd love to know!
Sheila's book, To Love, Honor and Vacuum, is filled with household tips on how to organize your home and how to get the family involved, too!
Labels: chores, cleaning, housework, nesting, organizing