Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Routines are a thing people either seem to shun, run in disgust or live by, embrace, and sort of (ok, really) cannot live without. I would fall into the latter category. Routines make me feel safe. Routines make me feel grounded. I thrive on structure and predictability. I do not like surprises nor do I welcome unplanned anything. If only the world worked that way. Sigh.
Speaking of routines, I've recently found a routine for the most mundane of life's requirements: Cleaning. I like a clean and organized home. With my busy life and tiny apartment, it seemed an insurmountable endeavor to get and keep my home clutter free and therefore giving me less of a chance of breaking out in hives due to the anxiety of being surrounded by everything I own and probably should have tossed years ago. One day I came to a realization after watching a series of YouTube videos on home organization and cleaning. I don't know why I never made the connection before, but-- ROUTINES!!! YES!!! I had found the proverbial holy grail. Routines. Ok...so...how to start? I divided my tiny apartment into "zones" or "areas". I gave each zone a day of the week. My apartment is about the size of a postage stamp (the small ones, not the fancy ones you get for breast cancer and other cool causes) so I figured out I had 5 zones. Kitchen, Dining area (aka office), living room, bedroom, and bathroom/back hall(all one zone). Excellent.
In my neat little list, I fit the 5 zones into five days of the week--Monday through Friday. Each day, I would tackle one area and only one area. My goal was to clean that area, clear out clutter (donate, toss) and make sure the things I kept were things I actually use. The first week was exciting as I saw the immediate change in each part of my apartment. I finished the week victorious and had extra time on the weekend to do laundry, errands, and even have FUN. Week 2 came and I found the task less daunting already. Each area had recently been cleaned and cleared of clutter, so this time I was able to clean more quickly and as I went through again, the clutter was less. I even dared to open closets and clear them out! I did, however, keep finding things that I really didn't need and tossed them or gave them away immediately. Liberating! (Tid bit of wisdom(?): I have never once missed an item I've tossed or given away when clearing out clutter--if you don't even remember you owned it, you won't remember you had it after it's gone. I promise. It's like magic) :) Once I established the routine, I felt comfortable and settled. Each week, I deleted things from my life and found I really felt better. I also found that I didn't have to dedicate an entire day or even weekend to clean my apartment. I could actually accomplish what I wanted in less than an hour. Much less.
Then I hit another roadblock. What about the fact that I use some areas every day? For instance, the kitchen. I do not have a dishwasher, so there's no hiding the dishes even when they are drying in the dish rack beside the sink. I noticed that with my cleaner, neater kitchen, that dishes sitting in the drying rack appeared like clutter! I couldn't stand it. So, I made some other rules for myself. Every night before bed, all dishes must be washed AND put away. I cannot tell you what a fabulous feeling it is to walk into my clean kitchen in the morning and not have to dig out old coffee grinds and clean out the coffee maker just to make my morning coffee that I so desperately need to be human. At first, I thought, well damn...this means I have to clean not only the "zone of the day" but now I have to clean other parts as well. Before I got all freaked out and descended into my all or nothing thinking, I realized, that no, this was not "cleaning" per se, it was keeping things organized. And by doing that, I could actually clean the next day in another zone without the vast array of messy leftovers from the night before staring me down in the kitchen.
My other rule of thumb is to take a lap around the apartment (this takes about 3 seconds--remember I told you the size of my place) and put away shoes I'm notorious for leaving strewn about, and jackets hanging on chairs, water bottles, and other small things that I've used during the day. Seriously, these are the best spent few seconds of the day before I retire to my pile of pillows and fall asleep.
So far, I've succeeded in keeping a much cleaner and more organized space. My biggest challenge is my workspace since I work at home part time and don't have a dedicated office. I haven't found *quite* the right solution for storing all of my work supplies and the papers and such, but I'm getting there. I do know, I'm lucky because I have such a small space that I can fit the zones into one day a week and I have the time with my flexible schedule, to get it done in between working. Not sure how it would be if I had that bigger place I sometimes long for with 2 bedrooms, 2 and a half bathrooms and an office and a job that took me out of the home for more hours than mine does.
It's a start. And speaking of starting--that's always the first step. Just start! Make a plan and go for it!
Everyone's different and what works for me, may not work for you, but I hope this gave you a little insight into how to make something most of us don't want to do, into a doable task every day.
Until next time, have a happy structured day!