When we bought our house, I was fortunate to claim the second best bedroom as my office. At the time, we didn’t understand how important that would be but once I started running my own business out of our home, having a nice office was a definite must.
It’s a comfortable space that could use a designer’s touch but is functional for now. The only problem is, it has a tendency to get messy. Like, it took me an hour to clean it a couple of weeks ago messy. I eat in my office. I work in my office. Some days I think I live in my office. I’m ashamed to admit that sometimes I’d have several days’ worth of dirty dishes piled up around my desk because I was “too busy” to take them back down to the kitchen after a working lunch. I had empty plastic water bottles laying near the full recycling can. I had papers laying around. It was, quite frankly, disgusting.
It’s amazing that at my age I’m just now finding out the trick to keeping my office (and the rest of our house) clean.
Take, for instance, this laundry basket that sat next to the linen closet in the hall for days. I probably walked past it 50 times and kept thinking, “I’ll get to it later.” Except, you know what happened? The whole state got hit by a freak windstorm that knocked out power all over the place – including the power at my mother-in-law’s house*. Of course we invited her to stay here.
So, Wednesday night she showed up just as I was finishing the last wipe-down on the messy kitchen counters (having already frantically washed dishes while Hubby cleaned the bathroom upstairs). She’s stayed in our guest room before, so she went up to put her bags on the bed. A few minutes later I followed her up and what did I see? The laundry basket… right where it had been since Sunday.
I was so embarrassed. Seriously, it takes 5 minutes (if that) to fold the towels and put them away, but I kept saying, “I’ll get to it later,” and when later came, it was cluttering up my hallway. Now, Mom is way too polite to ever make a comment about my messy housekeeping, but I was ashamed. I shoved the laundry basket in the hall closet where it’s still sitting, waiting for me to find the elusive “later.”
But, tonight, it’s going to take me 5 minutes to pull the basket from the closet and fold the towels. Just like it took me 2 minutes to collect my lunch plates in my office and walk them down to the kitchen sink. If I had left them on my desk, and added to the pile each day, eventually I’d end up with another hour cleaning job.
It’s all the little things that make a difference.
If I leave the dinner dishes until tomorrow because I’m too tired to tackle them tonight, when tomorrow comes we add more dishes to the pile and it becomes a more daunting task. A five minute job turns into a 30 minute job and before long I have two sinks full of dishes needing to be done.
If I just shove a laundry basket in the laundry room, shut the door and leave it for later, I’ll end up spending four hours on Saturday afternoon washing and folding piles of clothes, sorting through junk on the floor and reorganizing the cabinets. (Can you tell I did that just two weeks ago?) And our laundry room isn’t that big!
I have been a reluctant slob most of my life. I don’t function well in mess and clutter, but most days I’m too lazy to do the little upkeep it requires to keep the house looking neat. I’ve been challenging myself lately, however. Since the hour-long cleaning session in my office a couple of weeks ago, I’ve made it a point to de-clutter every day, usually before I stop working. And most nights the dishes get done before I go to bed, sometimes even as soon as we’re done eating.
I’ve found that I breathe so much easier without the weight of clutter and junk hanging over my head andI’m finding that’s true for the rest of life as well. It seems like the more I pursue what makes me happy, the more I focus on the important things and clear my life of the “junk” (hours of social media, games on my phone, drama, comparing myself to others…) the more at peace I become. I have time to figure out what my dreams are, then chase them. I feel a sense of freedom with every “letting go” of the trivial.
So what are the little things that need your attention? What are the small tasks you can do every day, whether around your house or in your heart, that will help you find peace? Join me in making a list of the little things, and then focus on them one at a time. As you start checking things off the list, let me know how it’s helping you on your journey.
This weekend I’ll be tackling my closet… I’ll try to provide before and after pictures, but prayers would be appreciated because I just might get lost in the mess.
*I am blessed to have an amazing mother-in-law who has always made me feel loved and welcome in her son’s life, so don’t expect any horror stories from me. I’m incredibly grateful to have the mother-in-law I have.