I’ve gotten into that terrible Executive Dysfunction spiral in which I didn’t do enough housecleaning, and then I didn’t want to because it was a little daunting, and then there was So Much To Clean that it was too much to even bother starting.
So today, I made a list. (stay with me)
Until today I had not even been able to bring myself to make a list because even the process of listing every single thing that needed fixing/cleaning/adjusting in every room was too fucking daunting. Making a list. Was. Toomuch.
This morning I was like, “Wait - do I HAVE to list everything?”
Reader, I did not have to list everything.
In fact, I made myself promise to NOT try to list everything.
Instead, I sat down with my dollar store pad and promised myself to just list 1-2 things in each room that needed some kind of doing. Spoiler, every room ended up with at lest three items, because I’m bad at lifehacking myself? Or keeping my promises to myself? I don’t know.
But here’s the kicker. Here is the bit that made me actually have the motivation to get started on any of the things on the list:
I gave myself permission to not finish everything in the list.
That was it. That was the whole thing. I gave myself this itemized list of tasks, roughly organized by geographic location in my house, and gave myself permission to give up. Permission to “fail.” (Somewhere on this wonderful site someone made an awesome post about how some tasks are somehow more achievable when you go at them fatalistically, with an expectation of failure rather than of determination to succeed. If anybody knows the post I mean please link it in the reblogs, because that is super relevant.)
This permission to fail, not not finish ALL THE THINGS! (::hattip:: to Allie Brosh) was what allowed me to even get started. Because if I was firmly telling myself I HAD to finish what I started, I would have looked at this list - 19 items in total, and done absolutely none of it. It would have been Too Much. But I gave myself permission to admit that all of it is Too Much but still do at least some anyway, because a little was better than none at all.
This was my list:
- Empty Dishwasher
- Fill Dishwasher
- Run dishwasher
- do handwashing (fragile cups, crock pot)
- Clear table
- Run laundry
- Hang Youngest’s coat
- Stow shoes
- Water christmas tree
- clear the floor under the front windows
- bring yarn baskets upstairs
- Scrub toilet (downstairs)
- Empty trash (upstairs and down)
- Carry laundry (towels, stuff discarded before various showers) to bin in hall
- Hang or fold/shelve clean laundry
- Bring dirty laundry to bin in hall
- Bring trash down
- Trash and recycling go to bins and bins to curb
I started at noon, poking despondently at the first dishwasher tasks while making coffee and bacon. It somehow helped to have something non-cleaning related to bounce back to at first, even more so because it was nourishing. Food is of the good. I broke away here and there to write up a morning post on Dreamwidth. I put on music.
As soon as I finished a task, I crossed it off, and looked at the remaining stuff on the list, trying to decide if I was Fucking Done even if the list wasn’t.
Then I picked another thing, and went on with it.
It helped a lot that some of these tasks sort of flowed into one another. Like, once the dishwasher was empty it just made sense to fill it, and once it was full it was so easy to put in the soap and run it, and at that point the sink was clear so it didn’t make sense to NOT do the handwashing.
While I was at all of it, too, I found myself hooking in other little things that weren’t on the list, or were but were not necessarily the task I was working on at the time. I remembered one of the Annoying Cleaning Tips someone gave me what I was much younger that was supposed to make cleaning easier but just tended to end up scattering me: never leave one room to go to another without bringing something with you that needs to be put away. Like, fuck that? Stacking extra work on top of my work that I haven’t even planned or braced myself for?
But when I was in the living room watering the tree and stood up to head back to the kitchen, it wasn’t hard to grab the four paper plates strewn around the couch/chair and shove them into the trash bin by the living room door on my way by, and it wasn’t hard to grab the half-eaten bag of chips I abandoned in the living room last night to shove in the cupboard in the kitchen. And while I was upstairs dealing with laundry and small bags of trash, it actually made the space cleaner to grab a Christmas gift bag and stick the rest of Middlest’s presents in it to put under the tree when I came back down, so it’s waiting for her when she comes back from her vacation tonight.
So it’s quarter past 3, and all the items on that list up there that are in italics? They’re all completed. And I’m looking at the list, and deciding that yeah, I’m gonna go vacuum the hallway when I finish posting this, but I’m probably not going to do the living room stuff. The living room is such a wreck that it kinda needs its own Permission To Fail Cleaning List, and I’ve gotten so much done that I really am okay with not finishing everything. And the trash and recycling going out, SALM and I can do that together later on.
And here is a link to the playlist I made of all the music I listened to, and danced from room to room to, and sang along to, and got shit done to. Having music totally helped.