One Hour to Tidy and a Fuller Life (Prizes Required)

How many of us wake up on Saturday energized to get things done? You make a gigantic list of things to do (aka The List—things that would, in reality, take probably a few weeks), and then either:

  1. Procrastinate the rest of the day because you’re overwhelmed, or

  2. Maybe get one or two things done (or done-ish) and then feel like a failure because it’s now almost the end of the day

What if there was a better way?

Life over cleaning

It hit me today, as I did all of the things I just listed above, that there has to be more to life than just cleaning the house.

There are, of course, important things on The List! And I wish I could wave my magic wand and have them just be done. But as someone who is untidy by nature, this is going to be a process. A process of building better habits that will take some time.

Rather than be both a taskmaster and constantly failing cleanup crew, what if I:

  1. Devote one hour a day on the weekend to The List, and

  2. Reward myself with something fun and leisurely that day?

Rewards are required

Whenever I’ve spent my whole weekend cleaning and tidying and sticking to a rigorous schedule, this is what happens:

  1. I feel kind of good for doing that

  2. I feel like kind of a failure because I didn’t finish everything on the list

  3. On Monday, I go to work, and feel like I didn’t get much of a weekend because all I did was work

When someone asks me how my weekend was, I don’t have much to say—all I did was clean!

There has to be more. Even if your reward is relaxing, or watching a movie, working in the garden, reading a few pages of a book, going for a walk, baking, going out with friends, having friends over—whatever it is, these are not optional.

“The List” gets one hour. That’s it!

I’m still going to write up The List . I think lists are helpful to get everything rumbling around in our heads out and onto paper. It also helps you visually prioritize.

In other words, the first few things that come to mind are probably the things eating away at you. So, maybe those should be your top priority?

My Sunday list

Here’s what I wrote down when I woke up this morning

I do a kind of bullet journal, as you can see from the photo. I’m not an expert on that style, which seems overly complex to me as I tried to figure it out. This is what I can handle.

I have a small notebook that can fit into my purse. It also helps me stay a little less overwhelmed because it’s small, and there are only so many lines on a page. I get these from Target. They’re GreenRoom, and are only $2 or $3, if you’re interested. They’re also pretty!

Everyday I make a list of things I need to do and things I want to do. If I complete something, I fill in the box. If I start something but don’t finish, I put a checkmark. And if I didn’t finish something that day, but it’s important enough to me, I’ll write it down for the next day.

How was my day?

I set my alarm for one hour. I turned on my favorite podcast—you might enjoy music, or just silence.

Then I started at the top of the list: living room.

This led me to the kitchen counters and some laundry.

Final assessment:

  • Living room is dramatically cleaner

  • Kitchen counter and stove top are nice and clean and ready for the week

  • Other kitchen counter is tidier

  • Reward: Going to hear some live music with friends later (instead of staying home alone)

Habit-building in effect!