Sunday, December 3, 2017

Keeping it Simple

No matter what I try to do, I'm the easily distractable type.

I go to clean something. Then, it's time to put something in another room, or a piece of mail catches my eye, and before you know it, hours have passed and I haven't accomplished a thing.

I remember reading something a few years ago that said, basically, that a task will take you however long you allow it to. If you have forty-five minutes to grocery shop, grocery shopping will take you forty-five minutes. If you have a completely open afternoon, it could take ninety.

When I think that I have all morning/all evening/all weekend to clean, I don't manage to get it done. I have TOO much time. There's no urgency. I can allow myself to get distracted, or take a break, or whatever it is that eats up all the time.

So lately, I've gone to a simple solution.

I set timers.

Let's say that I have two hours to clean. I divide the jobs I have into that two hours (and I try to do four jobs, five at most). These jobs might be "clean the master bathroom" or "tidy up the kitchen". I set the timer for each job, and tell myself that I ONLY have those minutes to do it. When the timer goes off, I abandon that job, reset the timer, and move on to the next. If the job isn't done, it gets moved to the bottom of the list. I can't check it off, and I need to tackle it next time.

When I know I have thirty minutes, I can clean the bathroom. I can get the laundry put away. I'm racing against the clock, and more often than not, I come out victorious. If I don't, it's usually not by much. Actually, most of the time, I'm able to "catch up" before the total time is up. Because once a job is done, I can either relax, or go back to finish the previous job.

It truly, TRULY keeps me from getting distracted.

These are the key points:

  • Keep the jobs specific and reasonable. "Clean the house'" isn't going to happen in thirty minutes. Heck, "clean the house" probably won't happen in two hours. It's too vague and leaves way too much leeway for wandering and distraction. "Clean the master bathroom", "put away the laundry", "tidy up the kitchen" are doable.
  • Make yourself rules and stick with them. One rule is that I can use my phone for music, audiobooks, and Netflix, but it's not the time to browse Facebook or check email EVEN if a notification pops up. Another is that if I finish a job before the timer goes off, I can either go back to a previous job or relax until it does. I am not allowed to pause the timer. If I need to use the restroom or answer the phone, the timer doesn't stop.
  • Don't beat yourself up. If you worked on laundry, really worked, for thirty minutes, it's not the end of world if it's not done. More than likely, it's close, and can be knocked out easily in a few minutes later in the day.
  • Simple cleaning is the best. This is the time to break out the good old rules. Vinegar works best on windows and mirrors. Everything looks better once the floor is clear.

It's not a foolproof system. There are still days when the amount of cleaning far surpasses the amount of time I have. But chunking my day helps me feel like I have some control, and at the end of the time, I always feel like I accomplished SOMETHING. And in my book, that's a win.
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