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Entries in tidying (1)

Thursday
Oct112012

Habit-forming

I can't remember if I mentioned it, but over the last year I've been doing quite a lot of reading on positive psychology and happiness. This is not because I'm unhappy. In fact, kind of the opposite. Life's really rather good right now, so I've been reading up more as an effort to appreciate that, and to try to be a calmer, happier person.

Hm. Sounds a bit serious when I put it like that. Anyway.

One of the things that kept coming up was how mess can make you unhappy by leaving you feeling out of control. But there was also a good point about sorting out all the mess being too large and difficult a project that somehow never got started. Quite a few of the books and blogs I've read talk about starting really small, like keeping a patch of desk tidy. 

Then somehow I started hitting blogs on minimalism. There's something appealing about keeping life simple, and certainly we could do with less stuff, but the full minimalist thing doesn't really appeal to me. However, there seems to be quite a lot that crosses over from the positive psychology stuff to the proponents of minimalism, one of which was habits and how tiny actions can build up into large changes. 

So, recognising that actually yes, things like the state of the kitchen and having my clothes everywhere were bugging me, and worse than that meant I was abdicating a lot of my responsibility for cooking, tidying etc to Clarkie was a first step. Especially because Clarkie's had a lot on her plate recently, so I really wanted to keep things simple and stress-free at home. Since then I've been trying to build up a small set of habits to stop my clothes piling up in the bedroom, or the kitchen getting to the stage where I'm overwhelmed by it and don't want to go in. 

(That makes it sound like the kitchen was really scummy. It was never all that bad, just things like the dishwasher needing stacking, hob needing a wipe etc. I have a low tolerance for kitchen stuff I think. The clothes piles were enormous though!)

So how's it going? Well, I think. Clarkie is a little confused by my sudden shift to tidying as I go, but I don't think she minds too much. The kitchen is mostly tidy, and the piles of clothes are... Well... Let's say much reduced. Last night I was so tired that I didn't do the post-dinner tidy-up I've been doing, but because it was just one meal it was simple enough to catch up this morning (although I have decided that a kitchen worktop that doesn't show the dirt is a really bad idea). I'm not sure they are proper habits yet - I think it would be extremely easy to slip back to doing nothing - but it's a start. We've even done a little decluttering, although at one point I had to say stop on that. I'm still finding some tasks a little overwhelming, so it's probably better to do little and often rather than risking me going all sulky-teenager on it.  

There are still plenty of things I'm not doing, and none of what I am doing seems to be taking up significant amounts of time. In fact, it's almost freeing up time, because I'm not spending ages doing the long, boring remedial tasks we used to have to do on occasion. Baby steps seem to be the way forwards!