Saturday, January 3, 2015

Toward a Tidier 2015

            It’s the third day of the year, and the third day of my unofficial New Year’s resolution.
            Each day, I target a finite disaster in the home and go at it with everything I have. On Jan. 1, I organized a messy desk in my would-be writing room. On Jan. 2, I cleared off the top of my dresser—a purgatory for worn-once-but-not-dirty sweaters and random knickknacks and jewelry. Today, I’m eyeing the basement, where I tend to stash boxes that may eventually be useful. Just breaking down and clearing up my accumulation of boxes will reduce clutter immensely.
            I don’t think I’ll ever run out of drawers and shelves and closets and dump sites. If I do, there are bookshelves to organize and Legos to help sort.
            A website caught my eye the other day—Clean Mama, a site maintained by an organizational specialist who offers plenty of free tools to help readers with their housecleaning efforts. The author, Becky, suggests an innovative approach to staying on top of housework. There are four tasks that she recommends every day—attacking floors, counters, clutter, and laundry—and then each day has its own particular task. For instance, today, Saturday, is designated for “sheets and towels.” Other days are given over to dusting or vacuuming or similar tasks.
            I like Becky’s specific plans, but the best part about her system is that it gets me thinking about ways to improve my own way of doing things—just like reading a really great book of poetry can inspire my own work. I’m far more of a poet than an organizer (only writing gets done every day—I can go a long while without worrying about homekeeping, but writing is a daily necessity). I appreciate inspiration where it comes, though, and Becky is nothing if not inspiring.
            When I mentioned my organizing resolution to friends, they were generous with ideas. One suggested my mother’s old trick of setting the clock for fifteen minutes and seeing how much I could get done, the object being to surprise myself and keep the momentum up after the clock runs out. That strategy has never appealed to me. I think I can only fool myself by accident. Setting myself up to lose myself in housework will only result in me watching the clock even more closely.
            With that being said, it turned out that cleaning the desk resulted in my tidying, organizing, and cleaning near the desk. While fifteen minutes of effort will never extend into sixteen or thirty or sixty without my noticing it’s happening, a clean area throws the mess around it into stark relief. I tend to keep going if my interest and energy stay high.
            Another friend suggested that I can maximize my cleaning efforts by teaching my child to do small tasks—say, making his bed. But the thing is, my New Year’s mindset isn’t really about teaching and nurturing others. It’s really all about me. I get personal satisfaction from cleaning out the junk drawer. Instructing an eight-year-old in making crisp corners with the flat sheet does not yield the same pleasure. It’s a good suggestion, and I’ll get to him later—but right now, I’m doing some things just for me.
            I love flipping the calendar to a brand new year. The result, year after year, is that I have given myself permission to imagine a brand new me as well—a better home, a renewed commitment to writing, a fresh resolution to be a better daughter and mother and friend.

            We’re only three days in, but I think I really like the me of 2015. I definitely like writing at her desk.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you for that kind comment! Happy 2015! :)

  2. You are inspiring me to give it a go.

    1. Thanks, Teresa! It feels so good, actually. Yesterday I ended up cleaning up a toy area, and last night I went back before bed and did more, just because I was liking the results. The good thing about this is that it's just something extra. It's not cleaning the toilets -- something that has to be done. It's making a small, chaotic place more orderly. Most people probably don't have as many of those as I do, but I could probably go all year with this! :)