Saturday, May 31, 2008

On housekeeping: no stars in my eyes

Not that I'm a one foot in the gutter kind of lady (OK, yes I am...a fair amount of the time), but as proud as I was about my housekeeping endeavors that I excitedly blogged about, I did wonder how long all of this tidiness would last.

Result? 2 weeks!

After maintaining the cleanliness and clutter-free (eh, minimally cluttered!) environment for 1 week, the sense of calm I possessed amazed me. In order to maintain it, I created a checklist for myself of things that I needed to do on a daily basis to maintain it. That included spending just 5 minutes in the morning cleaning the bathroom. In other words, little things that add up to a lovely big picture. The checklist also included some small stuff to maintain *myself*. Because I know that drinking enough water and brushing my teeth at night matter, I wanted to check the extent to which I actually do these things.

(And so that you are sure you read the previous paragraph correctly, I'm confirming that I sometimes forget to brush my teeth at night. I'm not proud of this, but hey, this is my ADD story, warts and all.)

Back to the checklist. To make it fun, I used sticker stars to check off each item. I like sticker stars, and it's a shame that we don't receive these as awards after second or third grade. I was all pumped about using the checklist, and enjoyed using it for 3 days. I didn't complete every item on the list each of those days. However, it was also an interesting data collection experience for me, as I was able to see which of the things I did and which I didn't do.

And then, Day 4 rolled around. I had a date with B, who I now know will not be a contender for the position of Mr. Add Libber. Thanks to the wonderful public transit system, I got home 30 minutes before I had to be out the door looking all cute and girly. Fortunately, I primped extensively and met my timeframe. However, my place looked like Sephora and Ulta had vomited products everywhere after an all-night beauty bender.

When I got home that night, I used my busy day and evening as a justification for not following my checklist. By the next day, the checklist sat overlooked on my bedroom dresser and remained unused.

That was over a week ago. This morning, I looked around and felt like things had again gotten out of control. My buoyant mood had also sunk, and I felt very blah. I'veread in many home organization books that the state of your home represents your life. And my life apparently has an empty sparkling cider bottle on the desk.

And so I'm printing out another checklist and aiming to get back on track. I'm frustrated that I let things get awry. But then again, I never thought that my big cleanup a couple of weeks ago would last as long as it did. I hope that I can get things back in order, one star at a time. I'll keep you posted on how it goes. Wish me luck!

Friday, May 16, 2008

On housekeeping: dusting off the motivation (part two)

And now, the exciting conclusion!

As the days and weeks passed between the decision to have S. and B. over for dessert and D Day itself, I had the best intentions to prep for the event. Every time I had a free evening or Sunday, my head flooded with all of the possibilities of what I could do to get ready for dessert night: shred extraneous papers, pick out some recipes, put pictures in the frames I'd purchased that still held the stock black-and-white photos of blissful faces. At the same time, other diversions tempted me: riding my bike, seeing a show, hanging out with friends, and oh yeah, catching up on the whereabouts of the cast of The Facts of Life on Wikipedia.

Having so many options rendered me indecisive. Or rather, I gravitated to the activities that immediately gratified me (= not party prep!). But fortunately, a few days before the party, I selected recipes and motivated myself to the grocery store to make the desserts. Oh yeah, did I mention that I was going to make three types of desserts for the three of us? I figured that if I was going to be all Martha Stewart, I was going full throttle - minus the prison sentence, of course.

Because I purchased all of the necessary foodstuffs, I developed a false sense of security about having everything ready dessert night. My place still required ample tidying, yet I put it off until the night before, when a feeling of dream washed over me. Indeed, I attributed all of the disorder to be the cause of this feeling. But actually, the thought of going to the office the following day weighed on me. After significantly pulling my weight over the past several months, I'd reached a huge lull. As a result of all of my feelings, I did the most logical thing.

I called in sick. Sick of work, that is! (Note: I don't normally advocate absenteeism, but sometimes you have to listen to your gut.)

And so I happily spent all of dessert day mopping, baking, cleaning, and generally prettying things up. Admittedly, I enjoyed every minute of it. But then again, I know that I wouldn't have enjoyed doing all of this on a non-work day. Being home when I wasn't supposed to be made it all fun.

Dessert night was a hit. S. and B. had just assumed that I bought the desserts, but seeing the products conceived in my kitchen bowled them over. As we chowed down my sugary treats and gossiped and laughed, I knew that all of the effort had paid off.

Gearing up for this event served as an excellent shot of motivation to keep atop my housekeeping. So far, I think I've been doing OK. When I come home at the end of the day, I have more of a feeling of calm when I see less stuff sitting around. In order to keep things in order, I'm aiming to spend 20 minutes a day on housekeeping. Although, as my head's about to hit the keyboard, I'm giving myself tonight off for good behavior. I'm sure Martha Stewart would understand that all too well!

On housekeeping: dusting off the motivation (part one)

About a month ago, the disorganization in my home bubbled up to be the number one annoyance in my life. It even transcended the cheery "have you dined with us before?" remark that waiters now ask in many restaurants, as if you just fell onto the planet and couldn't figure out how to order off from a menu. (I digress...)

And so, for the 98th time, I carped about the disarray to my coach. Her response? "Throw a party!"

When she said that, I looked around the living room with wide eyes. At that moment, the only appropriate event to throw in my home was an intervention. My tax paperwork dangled precariously from the arm of a chair near my desk because the desk lacked any place for the stuff to balance. Oh, and a sweater languished on the shelf of my bookcase. It didn't land there during a torrid tryst (unfortunately!). Rather, to remind myself that I wanted to give it away, I put it there. In February. As the Flylady would say, I had CHAOS -- Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome.

But Jen's intent was to provide me with a larger goal to reach for. Picking up stuff would allow me to feel comfortable having people over, which was something that I really wanted to do. Although keeping it picked up for myself is a noble deed, I don't really notice that things are disorganized until they are extremely out of whack. But if I know that company's coming, I see my surroundings in a different light, and my motivation to clean, organize, and declutter blossoms.

I hadn't thrown a party in a couple of years, so Jen's idea enticed me. But, reflecting on the hilarious vodka tonic-fueled late-evening chorus of "Wonderwall" at my last soiree, I decided to plan something on a smaller scale. Before I could give the matter much more thought, I emailed a couple of friends to come over for dessert on a weeknight.

After picking a date far enough into the future to give me ample time to gear up for the festivities, I immediately found that my motivation paid off. The mere thought of having people over compelled me to round up four shopping bags of clothing and housewares and donate the stuff to charity. Yeahhhh, I though. I'm so ahead of the game.

What happened next? Stay tuned!

Monday, May 12, 2008

On housekeeping: Target will be there for you

Now that spring is in full swing, my thoughts have turned to getting my place cleaned up and orderly. Indeed, I think about this more than I actually do it. But this year, I really want to clean up my act. I know I have more energy as well as a clearer mind when I have my house in order.

In the next bunch of posts I'll make, I'll talk about random thoughts I have related to housekeeping. Even the word housekeeping gets me all psyched. It's so retro, and makes me feel like I should be vacuuming in high heels and greet my husband at the door with warm smile and an icy cold martini. Of course, this image is unrealistic for me: I'm single, have hardwood floors, and prefer my gin with tonic. But hey, if the word interests me in cleaning and decluttering, what's not to love?

I think that we ADDers succeed very well at getting inspired for housecleaning. This typically occurs, in my experience, when we're not at home because it's too easy to watch the Dramatic Squirrel over and over and figure out who you haven't yet sent the excellent link to. When I'm outside of my own walls, by far there's one place that gets me fired up about cleaning. And that would be Target.

Stumble into one of the aisles with cleaning products and you can't help but be inspired by the scores of products neatly lined up on the white metal shelves. If you need something to make your home whiter, shinier, or the squeakiest of clean, you will find it on these shelves. You will drool over the citrus-scented Swiffers. You will muse about the best way to nominate the creator of the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser for the Nobel prize. You will decide to ensure that the next generation will have an earth to inhabit by switching to Method products.

These thoughts enter my head all of the time as I approach this aisle. As difficult as I find it to do, I make every effort to simply inhale the heady aroma of chlorine bleach and lemon freshness and walk on by.

Why? Because my under-sink cabinets are jam-packed with cleaning potions galore, which I acquired while dazzled by the possibility of cleaning. Unfortunately, that possibility dissolved the minute I walked into my door with those bullseye-adorned plastic bags. What attracted me on the store shelves turned into one more thing to cram into that limited cabinet space. The allure of a new pack of wipes or the best mildew killer ever vanishes the minute I realize that I have six other cleaners that do the same thing. Or, I discover that I already own the product and never used it. Whoops!

So, as I embark on my big ol' spring cleaning mission, I have to get all Zen and remind myself that I have everything I need. I don't need any extra-special-wonderful-fabulous cleaning solution. I have enough stuff in the house to do the job. And when I deplete my stash, Target will be waiting for me with its wide aisles of products standing at attention, all waiting to be called to duty in the Battle against Grime.