What Saves Me

Life requires attention.  We cannot just plow ahead and assume everything will fall into place neatly.  Sometimes that happens, sure.  But, mostly, I think it takes a little direction on our part.

Case in point:  I have a new-ish system for keeping the house clean.  I do a little each day.  It’s a system I’ve thought about implementing for years, but resisted.  Because who wants to do some amount of cleaning every day?  Not me.  But last spring, all of a sudden, I decided this was the way for me.  So Monday is cleaning bathrooms, Tuesday is dusting, Wednesday is vacuuming, Thursday is mopping hardwood floors.  Laundry is thrown in multiple times throughout the week, as is wiping kitchen counters and vacuuming around the kitchen table.  The key point:  I do a little each day.  And instead of having one overwhelming cleaning day every week (which, I’ll be honest with you, didn’t happen weekly), I now manage things by doing a little each day.

It’s a schedule I resisted in the past, but one that really works for me now.  And, having figured out what works for me, so much of everything else has been lightened.

It’s true.  I no longer have this huge job looming over me All The Time.  Instead, I have smaller jobs on most days, as the rest of life moves along.  And because I’m keeping up with these smaller jobs consistently, it means that if a crazy day or crazy week appears (because it happens)…it doesn’t matter.  I can skip a day.  I can skip a week.  Nothing’s going to fall apart.  There might be extra dust bunnies along the hallway baseboard…but what of it?

Once again, I’m reminded how breaking things into smaller parts creates ease.  I’m reminded once again, of the power in the tiny.  Cleaning has always been my nemesis.  I dislike it and, for a long time, I’ve let it take up too much of my mental energy.  In breaking the overall task into smaller jobs, I removed much of the punch.  I still hate dusting (a lot) but it’s now just one job I do on one day.  And, yes, some weeks I might skip it.

The bits and pieces (the tiny)…whether it’s chores around the house, or tasks for work, or canvas-priming before the glorious paints…are manageable.  If we keep things small(er) and manageable…guess what?  We can manage.  And when we manage, we are successful.

I’m not thinking of success in the traditional sense.  I’m thinking about daily, everyday wins:  a bathroom sink free of toothpaste; nourishing meals on the table; a camera in my hand one minute, and a pen the next.  I’m thinking about an even way of being.  I’m thinking about flow.

As I get older, I’m learning the behaviors that help me stay even, that keep me in flow.  I’m learning the balance between attention and release.  With respect to cleaning the house, there’s necessary attention to detail and follow-through (someone needs to push the vacuum); there’s also an easing of expectations (some weeks it’s really okay to skip mopping the floor).

This attention and release applies to almost every aspect of life that I can think of…personal relationships, careers, travels, dreams, creativity.  All at once it overwhelms.  Taken in smaller bits, it becomes manageable.  Bathroom day means the sink can be free of toothpaste (at least for a few hours), the meal plan can make late afternoons simpler, the notes and paragraphs can blend together in an essay.

Attention to the little.  Once again it saves me.

Sending a little love your way, m

 

If you’re interested, this was the book that jumpstarted my house cleaning.  I never did her 7-day kick start or her 28-day challenge.  But something about the way she framed things clicked for me.  I’ve used her suggestions to create my own plan that works for me.  Because, at the end of the day,  it’s got to work for me.  Or you.  Yes?  Along those lines…remember this?

*****

Are you joining us for Gratitude Week?  I hope so.  xo
{it’s free!} {click image}

 

 

 

 

I’m so excited for this mini run of Just Five Things.
Short and sweet.
And quiet.
{click image}

 

20 thoughts on “What Saves Me

  1. First thing’s first. Take it easy. One thing at a time. Sometimes I have to repeat these things when a day’s worth of house chores has me feeling overwhelmed. Just focus on the task at hand! And if you only get that one thing done today, it’s still considered a win. I like the idea of getting a little done every day, but man it’s hard, especially when the last thing i want to do when I get home from work is clean! Just found your blog through #gratitudeweek2017 on Instagram, and enjoying your focus on small moments. Thanks!

    1. Hi, Jacqui! So glad you found your way here!
      One thing at a time…it’s really the only way, isn’t it? I agree that getting one thing done is considered a win. Absolutely!

      As for the little bit of cleaning each day…it’s a system that works for me but maybe not everyone. You can certainly tweak it to suit your needs. If you prefer cleaning in one fell sweep (maybe on the weekend) that’s good too. Or maybe you could combine days…sort of double up, so that you still have some free evenings. Today, for example, I combined the dusting and vacuuming…which means cleaning-free day tomorrow. Woot!

      Like so many other things in life, it’s a matter of trying different things and seeing what feels best *for you*.

  2. It comforts me to know that I am not the only one who still is trying to find a way to make housecleaning work for her. I’ve tried both ways and agree with you that the one that seems to make sense is to do a little each day. Then it’s manageable. An hour out of my day. I also try to be mindful of how quickly I am able to complete the chore {when anticipating a chore to complete in my mind it feels like it will take hours, in reality maybe 25 minutes}.

    As for mopping the floors weekly, well, God bless you! My poor floors do not see the mop that often! :) I will comfort myself by saying I do not have young ones at home anymore to muddy them up…

    xoxo

    1. I think you’re in good company as for the numbers of us still figuring it out :)

      As for mopping the floors…truthfully, I don’t do them every week! On the weeks I don’t do them, it’s the most awesome feeling to know that I have a ‘free’ day…or a make-up day, if I didn’t get to something earlier in the week. Keeping up a little at time really gives me flexibility to skip when I need and come back to the schedule a few days later. There’s alway a chance to reset. I don’t love cleaning, but I kinda love the system!

  3. With you all the way on this… Friday is change the beds day…Saturday hoover… Sunday ironing and wipe kitchen over… never a huge clean. In fact I can’t recall when I last pulled the sofas out to wipe but a hoover gets shoved under once in a while. I appreciated this today..saw it in my in box. Applying this method to other areas could be good do you think? I’m fat. No I’ve put on 30 lbs I think from the gallstones diet changes, surgery, denial and then celebration. Now I’ve got joint pain and actually walking flipping hurts. Time to take action and not hide in crisps and chocolate. A little exercise and a little less every day could work perhaps. But I like your focus on the embracing a little. This is self indulging…I will write properly because I want to very much. Love to you xx Emma

    Sent from my iPhone with ✌🏻🕊✨💫

    >

    1. Oh yes, Emma…I absolutely believe this approach can be applied to many (all??) areas of life. Absolutely! You’ve mentioned diet and exercise…yep, works there too. I think the mistake people often make when it comes to diet and exercise is trying to do too much in the beginning. They try to run before their body is ready for it (as an example). Far better, in my book, to begin with brisk walking and intervals of run/walk before jumping into straight running. People end up with injuries when they do too much too soon. Same with eating habits…start small. Cut out (or add) one healthy habit at a time. It’s far more sustainable to work slowly and deliberately…this helps build consistency without overwhelm.

      Be deliberate, but also be gentle. xo

    1. Not weird at all. It really comes down to what makes sense/what works for us…otherwise it doesn’t get done ;)
      And, yes, I bet cleaning for two is much easier…enjoy that aspect!

  4. I went through a similar discovery process myself . . . I call it my “Slow Drip” approach. Taken in small bites, you can “eat” almost anything. XO

  5. i have been doing something similar . . . when my bathroom looks ‘off’ i just clean it. it really doesn’t take that long, and it is so wonderful to just have it clean. when i do dishes, i wipe down one section of counter (move the crocks, etc, and get all the way to the back) or the window-sill. things like this – the one bit of cleaning that over time adds up to a cleaner house.
    this summer, i had a list of chores that the kids just had to pick one from and do before they could use any screens. with after-school sports, we had gotten away from that. but now, after-school sports are over for them for this season. we are going to get back to that. i think i will blog about my list and my method – and this coming monday seems like a great day to implement the re-start!

    1. It’s so true that the little bits of cleaning over time add up to a cleaner home…it’s really not so bad when you do it this way! Also not so bad when there’s help from the kids ;)
      Happy re-start!

  6. I love, love, love this! Have been recently been thinking about cleaning and how it brings beauty and attention to a space and how calming it is in a clean room and how cleaning is its own reward and how it can be a mark of neglect of things – bathroom = personal care etc.

    Such a great idea of doing a little each day and yes some weeks it is OK to skip (really speaking to myself here!)

    Great reminders – thanks!

    1. I’m glad you found this helpful! And I love your thoughts about cleaning being a way to bring beauty and attention to a space. Oh yes, I agree! Sometimes I think about that…but often I forget…so thanks for sharing that. xo

  7. I used to have a routine of a little something every day but this last year has thrown me off track. Maybe November it the time to get get back to a daily routine -along with Daily gratitudes. Off to see if my library has that book

    1. Autumn always seems a nice time to (gently) return to certain practices. I hope your library has the book! Take what works for you and set the rest aside. A little here, a little there goes a long way.

      And daily gratitudes…yes please!

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