Saturday, November 17, 2012

Are You Done With That?

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I've looked through both blogs and can't really find that I've posted this before, so, after some deliberation about which blog to post it to, I decided it works better here.

I have lamented about my pitiful housekeeping skills before, but I don't really think I've gone into what I think is the fundamental root. So I'll 'splain it quick, then share an EPIPHANY I had today regarding the whole issue.

I really believe there's two kinds of can call 'em Cleanies and Messies, Born Organized and Sidetracked or about anything that makes sense to you.  In an effort to avoid labels, I'll just say 'Type 1 and Type 2".  Here's how you tell 'em apart...

You give them each something to do that requires stuff...say, reconciling the checkbook (checkbook, bank statement, calculator)...and then you interrupt them with something that is urgent but does not involve blood or smoke. In other words, not an emergency.

The Type 1's will always, without even consciously thinking about it, put away the stuff they were working on and then go tend to the interruption.  The Type 2's will always, without thinking about it, hop right up and go tend to the interruption, leaving their stuff right there because, you  know, they're coming right back.

But life happens and the interruption is interrupted and then something else comes up and...

At the end of the day, the stuff is still on the table.

So, when a Type 1 cleans house, she dusts and vacuums.  When a Type 2 cleans house, she has to first go put away all the half done projects...only, they need to be done.  So instead of putting away the checkbook and bank statement, she sits back down to finish it. Then she spots the vacuum that  is still in the middle of the family room, where it was when the doorbell rang with the mail order box that had hubby's Christmas present in it, that had to be put away immediately so he couldn't find it,, is THAT where the holiday tablecloth got put year before last...and...and..and...

So, I have told myself, the secret is that I must learn to put away things when I'm done with them.

But today I realized that is NOT the secret.

The secret is to realize WHEN I'm done...not necessarily done for good, but definitely done for today.

As I mulled over this realization I was walking up the stairs to get the next load of laundry,  and I saw a box of miscellaneous stuff sitting at the top of the stairs, and I realized 'Am I done with this?' applies to a lot more than just what I'm working on at the moment.

If I'm done with it, I'm done with it.  Am I done with this catalog?  Am I done with this pattern...these fabric scraps...this too-small blouse...those scratchy sheets...I've found myself asking this question over and over today.  And when the answer is 'yes', then what I need to do becomes obvious.

You know, though, that can apply to much more than just the stuff that is cluttering my could apply to the stuff that is cluttering my life.  Am I done with this program, with that responsibility?  With that relationship?  Has that season passed?  Am I still trying to plant when I should be harvesting?  Am I done with that?

It means I have to be honest with myself.  It also means I can't pull a Scarlett O'Hara and 'think about it tomorrow.'  I have to answer the I done with that?

Once the question is answered, then I can take care of the ...clutter.

But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on ... (Phil 3:13a -14b, NIV 2011)


  1. Lisa, I think you hit the nail right on the head. I'm not a neat freak, but I have an in-born ability to not clutter (except for my fabric closet!) and (in your terminology) know when I'm done with something. In other words, I deal with stuff as quickly as possible and don't let things pile up. I know not everyone has this trait so for you to recognize the "secret" is a big step.

    Now I used to be much more OCD about this in my 20s/30s. With age comes the wisdom of moderation (and lack of energy ... hah!) - the world will NOT end if the counter has some stuff on it for a day or three. Just saying that to point out we come to the same place but from opposite directions. :-)

    1. I've often said I want to start publishing a magazine called 'Good Enough Homes and Gardens' -- showing homes decorated on a budget that look lived in and liveable, to give me a reasonable goal.

      Learning to live with a little disorder is just as hard for some Type 1's as it is to recognize when it's time to put something up for Type 2's...thanks for the comment and encouragement! ;-)

  2. Not sure what my secret trigger is but I'm definitely Type 2 with some procrastinator thrown in. I'm so easily distracted, it's scary! Then I realize the pile-up of things to do and I just don't know where to start. Time to figure it out. This one's thought-provoking, thanks.

    oh and thanks for getting back to my email - I haven't had any trouble getting back in and am all caught up on your posts :-)

  3. I love that question, Lisa. I'm recognize the frustrations that my easily distracted mind has casued me over the years and your question is another perspective to manage it. I've been reading about the 3 tiny habit approach to change and think it might apply to me.

    1. Oh, thanks for commenting, Jane! Now I've found your blog! ;-) I know there are a myriad 'change your habits' methods; they all boil down to the same thing...ya gotta change the way ya do things/see things. It's the seeing that's been my downfall; once I see it, really see it, I have tools to deal with it. I've just been telling myself I'm too busy to see it...but that's not working. And it's probably going to take two or three passes before I learn to be completely honest with myself in answering the question...but I am seeing some improvement.