Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cleaning theory for the worst of us

I've mentioned once or twice before that I am definitely one of the worst of us when it comes to cleaning. You've seen much worse if you've lived in a dorm, but still, not so good. This may be a useless idea for most of you that are more sensible than me, but perhaps you may find some area of life where it applies.

My problem is the one the famous Allie of Hyperbole and a Half expressed so well in This Is Why I'll Never Be An Adult:

When I started to clean, I've always picked a room and then tried to make it spotless. Note the room was always starting from a state of layers of greasy dog dander dust and dust & fur rhinos. Using a bagless vacuum I would end up emptying the cannister two or three times, in piles of dusty hair the size of a small cat each time. Starting from there and trying to end with all tchotchkies shining was usually impractical, especially with all the time I spent running around the house with objects trying to put them all in their proper place. So it was intimidating and depressing and left me thinking I'd failed whenever I cleaned.

Reflecting on Allie's "Why I'll Never Be An Adult," suddenly I connected this way of thinking with something Dennis Prager's wife says: "It's better than it was." Also, with "Perfect is the enemy of good enough."

I hit upon a new plan: Every night before I go to bed, I try to make the house cleaner than it was last night when I went to bed. This has been working well for a week, with a modification suggested by a friend: build days off into the schedule. E.g., Tomorrow night I want to go to a ballroom dance class that will leave me with no time for cleaning after work.

The big thing is, it leaves me feeling good about the cleaning I did instead of feeling bad about the cleaning I didn't do. And if I keep it up, someday, my house will be clean.

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