These days, when it comes to keeping my life in order, my slogan is “moving things forward.” What that means is that I try to choose and accomplish a handful of little things every day, in the hopes that eventually they will keep things rolling along. And for the most part, it’s working out.
I used to function under a mental regime that felt the need to get it all done at once. I had rules for myself that included making my bed every day, ensuring that the kitchen was clean before going to bed and always (always!) picking out my clothes the night before I was to wear them. If I was going to clean the bathroom, I had to do it all at once and if I was going to run the vaccum, well, I had better have the time to do the entire apartment, baseboards included.
One good days, I still strive to accomplish these goals. However, life has gotten busier. On an average day, I’m trying to manage work (thank god my commute time is negligible), making dinner (most days, I cook myself breakfast and lunch as well), running Food in Jars (and this blog, when I can find a few minutes to type) and the occasional freelance gig (which should be coming more regularly now that I’ve started writing for Grid Philly).
So instead of trying to do the best job imaginable, I move things forward. Too tired to do the dishes before bed? I try to at least empty the dish drainer, so that there’s space for five minutes of pot washing and dish washer loading before heading off to work. Home for lunch with five minutes to go? I start a load of laundry, all the while thanking the appliance gods for creating my washer/dryer combo. No time to mop the whole kitchen floor? Two minutes with a sponge will at least help a little (admittedly, my kitchen is tiny).
What I’m trying to do with this “move it forward” principle is just never let any one area of my life get to the explosion range. I try to put little dabs of energy into a variety of spots throughout the day, instead of feeling like I need a 90 minute chunk to do a really damn good job. And so far, it’s working. When I clear off the bar of mail in the evening, instead of letting it accumulate all week, I’ve prevented an explosion of mess and continued to move things forward.
Sometimes it feels a little bit like being on a treadmill, since the scenery doesn’t change and the tasks essentially remain the same. But keeping the messes and tasks of life under control in this way makes me feel generally saner and calmer. So I go with it.