Wednesday, October 24

Simplify, Simplify

Those are the words I am chanting under my breath these days. I'm trying to simplify my life, to relax a bit more. To take the time to do things that give me pleasure without stressing over how to fit it in. My problem is that I have a very organized soul trapped inside a very lazy body. My soul demands that things be done right and that life operate efficiently. My body thinks it should wait until later. Then later gets here and my soul stresses because it doesn't have the time to do the job properly. At which point my body points out that I might as well skip it then which causes my soul to have a hissy fit. And so the battle rages with first one side and then the other winning minor battles but neither emerging completely victorious. Clearly a little d├ętente is needed here. Time to head for Geneva and begin negotiations.

Last month in her blog, Argh Ink, NYT Bestselling author Jennifer Crusie took her fans through 12 days of office cleaning/organizing. No, I'm not going to do that here. But in some of the comments there was mention of a website called Fly Lady which sounded interesting enough that I decided to check it out. According to Fly Lady, we become overwhelmed by day to day tasks because we set the bar too high. This results in what she refers to as CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). Sound familiar? Fly Lady's answer to the problem is to break up all the things that need doing into smaller, more manageable chunks. Don't try to clean the whole house at once, just concentrate on the desk. Or even just the desk drawer. And limit it to 15 minutes at a time. You do this until you've eliminated the worst of your clutter and disorganization and then you create and stick with a daily routine of small tasks to maintain order. And apparently Fly Lady has encountered perfectionist souls before because she also suggests that it's better to do something half way than not at all.

I think she has a point. I'm not going to sign up for the program, even though you can follow along for free, because I am not much of a joiner. But I've been browsing the site and I can see a lot of stuff that I can start incorporating into my own life. For instance, instead of putting off dusting until I have time to move objects and wield a can of Lemon Pledge with enthusiasm, I could focus on keeping the majority of the dust off the easy to reach surfaces. Instead of devoting a day I don't have to reorganizing my paperwork, I could work on just one stack at a time. And so on to include my closet in which I am sure the lost treasure of the Aztecs is hidden somewhere. And setting a time limit is a good idea too, because once you start blazing trails it's really easy to wander down side paths and end up lost. The beauty of this system, in theory, is that by nibbling away at the edges of all those chores they will eventually become smaller and more easily managed. Then the idea of breaking out the Pledge won't seem so daunting.

I decided to put this to the test this past weekend. A friend (hi Dee!) and her DH came by Thurs. evening to take away some old furniture in order to make room for our new stuff. With all that empty floor space it seemed like a good time to tackle a little fall cleaning. So I got out the dust mop and Swifter Wet Jet. But rather than mobilizing like a crazed Russian general, I broke the job down into sections. Dining room, living room, hallway. I worked one section and then took a break for a cup of coffee. I worked another section and then spent a few minutes on the deck brushing my cat. And so it went. Okay, my remaining furniture is still pretty dusty, but my floor now looks really good. AND I still had time to go to the library that day and to work on my latest crochet project that evening. So this may be working.

On Sunday I decided to implement my new simplicity system a little further. While at the grocery store I stocked up on those wipes you can get for counter top surfaces and those little disposable duster things. My theory is that I can keep the counters in bathroom and kitchen looking nicer if it's a simple matter of swiping over the surface with an already treated cloth. And likewise if all I have to do is flash the duster thingy over and around tabletops and shelves the dust shouldn't build up so badly.

Of course this is all theory so far, and will require my sticking to some kind of schedule in any case. We'll see. Stay tuned.

No comments: