As a chronic workaholic, I tend to bite off more than I can chew. I grossly overestimate how much I can get done in a day, and how many projects I can juggle at a time. To make more time for work, I end up cutting out things like self-care and household chores. Then I work myself until the point of exhaustion, get sick, and have to take time to recover. Once I’m better, the cycle resumes.

Another of my many bad habits is deferring seemingly large tasks until I have time. I know that time will not miraculously appear once day, and that I’ll have to schedule these things. Yet when I see something as a large task that will take an hour or more, I have a more difficult time working it into the schedule. So it gets deferred. Ironically, as a write I already practice breaking big things into smaller daily pieces, and do so with ease. I have a daily word count goal, and those daily pieces eventually add up to a book. Somehow I struggle to do with with other takes.

Cleaning and organizing, for example. I feel like I need to clean the whole apartment. That will take all day. I can negotiate down to just cleaning the bathroom, but if I’ve let that go for too long because I’m been in project mania, or in a state of post-crash exhausting, it’s a mess. I I’m learning that it’s okay if I just wipe down the sink, or take a few minutes to clean the toilet, and leave other tasks for another time. It’s hard to just do one task right now, because I feel like I’m going to get sucked down a rabbit hole, and there are other things that I need to be doing.

I know that I advocate for minimalism, but I realized that what kept me from cleaning things as I saw them was that the cleaning supplies were in another room. If you need to keep one bottle of spray cleaner in the kitchen and another in the bathroom, rather than having just one bottle in the hall closet, do it. They’ll both get used, so it’s not a waste. Keeping the bare minimum in a place where it doesn’t get used is arguably what’s wasteful. It’s worked for me. I can clear things as I see them, and it doesn’t feel like it needs to be either a project, or a distraction from something else I need to be working on.

Spend 10 Minutes Organizing Something

My current approach is as follows. I’ve started a collection in my bullet journal of things that need to get done around the apartment. Some of them are one-time projects, like reorganizing various legal papers, contracts, and so on. There’s a lot of stuff waiting to be filed, but first the existing files need to be reorganized, and some new files need to be created. Some things are recurring tasks, like vacuuming or sweeping the patio.

Once I’ve got a solid collection, I’ll make sure it’s broken down into smaller bites. Tasks that can be accomplished in 10 minute chunks. I’m not going to assign those tasks. I’m just going to use it as a reference list, a sort of reminder. During the day I take scheduled breaks to get up out of my chair and walk around. I’m going to try to look clean something that I see needs to be attended to. If there’s nothing obvious, then I can look at the list and pick something that might get overlooked.

My hope is that over time this will become a habit. My immediate environment will become easy to maintain. It will be clean and organized because I take small daily steps to keep it that way.

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