You know that feeling…the one when you walk in the door to your home for the first time since you did a deep cleaning, & it smells like whatever seasonal fragrance you’re using at the moment, the floors are so bright, the sun dances off them, the colors in your decor palette seem extra-bold, and you can see every glorious inch of your shiny kitchen countertops? How often do you have that feeling?
I honestly can say that I can’t recall EVER having that feeling…unless my home was cleaned by someone I paid to do it (but I’m usually too cheap to do that!). One of my dirty little secrets is, literally, a DIRTY little secret. I try, I really do…and I make a special effort to be sure all of our bathrooms are clean & sparkly, and one of our living areas (nearest to the front door) is vacuumed, clutter-free, and free of dust.
Beyond that, though…I look around the house and see piles…documents that need to be filed, bills to be paid, junk mail with personal information that needs to be shredded, my son’s artwork that I have grand plans to turn into something really special to save (someday!), and folded laundry that needs to be returned to their rightful owners.
I have a clutter problem. How freeing to write that…I feel like I’m in a support group of sorts, and I’m admitting to something I haven’t really said before. I should get a coin or something (or is that something that you get after you’ve made months or years of progress?). I’d be happy with a cookie at least, for my bravery in admitting my problem.
What’s worse, it seems I have passed along this habit to my son, who “walks and drops”…rarely putting anything away unless he’s asked (or threatened, depending on my mood!). So between the 2 of us, and a husband who doesn’t mind stacking the dishes in the sink in such a way that it seems like his own special art project, not to be touched…our home’s appearance is rarely something I’m proud of. Particularly when someone “drops in” or gives little notice before coming over.
Over the years, I have honestly gotten much better…not so much in the de-cluttering department (though I did complete a 6-week de-clutter challenge that helped dramatically!), but in my attitude about my home and it being of reflection of me.
- I now understand that my piles serve as reminders for me…if they were out of sight, they would be out of mind. If I need to take action of something, and I see it on the counter, I am more likely to do it. I was once told by a fellow therapist that there was a study conducted on clutter and intelligence…and that those who were intelligent entrepreneurs were more likely to struggle with clutter. I never verified the study, because I chose to believe I was intelligent! But it makes sense…often, we entrepreneurs have so many balls we are juggling, it is easier to set something aside (literally) while we’re focused on the task right in front of us. Then another task gets added to the pile, or the desk, etc. and before you know it, your stapler is buried under papers.
- I started to look at de-cluttering and cleaning differently…not as long, arduous tasks, but I divided things up throughout the week, from more of a time management perspective. Laundry two days, vacuuming one day, bathrooms another day, dusting another day…you get the idea. So while my house never has that “deep cleaned”, just-been-done feel to it because of how I divide my time, I’m okay with it.
- Finally, I had to acknowledge and accept that the people who were coming to my home were not there to judge its cleanliness (well, maybe not OUT LOUD anyway!), but they were there to spend time with me and/or my family. So I adopted an attitude of “Welcome…what you see is what you get today!” It was much less stressful than ignoring my other obligations for several hours to try to get the house looking decent. And you know what? I wasn’t anxious about what they thought…I simply focused on being together, talking and laughing, sharing a meal, and enjoying the company.
Often, taking a problem and “dissecting” it in this way is helpful to release any negativity attached to it. Taking a step back as an observer rather than a participant is also beneficial…look at your situation and give yourself the advice you would give a friend. Talking things through with a good therapist is also a good idea…he/she may come up with ideas you never even considered. For example, learning stress management techniques in conjunction with therapy is SUPER powerful. When you have pain in your life (any “problem” is considered pain…it could be a negative co-worker, an unfulfilled marriage, or something else), if it doesn’t resolve, the results can be extremely detrimental to your mental and/or physical health. Often, just having that knowledge is enough to resolve to take action to eliminate that pain.
Consider the areas in your life (or home, as the case may be!) in which you feel that you could use a change.
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This post is part of the FYB “31 Days to Quiet the Voices in Your Head” series.
Read more about it HERE.