With the nice, fall weather we’ve been having, I threw my energy into some large outdoor chores. A huge sense of accomplishment was achieved. (Yes, I realize that is passive voice. I did it for effect.)
But when I ventured back indoors, I was shocked to discover that the house did not stay neat and tidy without me. The laundry room alone looked like it could qualify for superfund status. So I took a day “off” to get my house back in shape.
Which was a mistake. I can’t clean up my house in a day. Or even a week. Although in my work life I can focus on a puzzling problem, or stay on task for hours to meet a deadline, I cannot do this in my house. I am constantly distracted and wholly ineffective.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
- I start to tidy up the bedrooms and realize that it’s time to change the bedding.
- I strip the beds, and reason that since cold weather is on the way, I should take the opportunity to put on the heated mattress covers.
- While I’m swapping the mattress covers, I decide to vacuum the mattresses, which requires me to haul a vacuum up a flight of stairs.
- And, of course, I have to wash the mattress covers I removed which requires hauling them all down a flight of stairs.
- I figure as long as I am washing the mattress covers, I should wash the comforters.
And so on. I end up with room after room of bedding in varying degrees of cleanliness on every surface. And then it’s 3:00 and my children start to arrive from school. If my house isn’t picked up by the time those others get home, I can forget it.
Here’s another example:
- Halfway through cleaning the kitchen, I realize I don’t have anything planned for dinner.
- I glance in the refrigerator and notice there are several items that are, ahem, a little past the due date.
- I clear the refrigerator of less-desirable items which makes it evident I need to wipe the shelves.
- I wipe the shelves, restow everything, and realize there is nothing in the refrigerator suitable for dinner.
- I check the freezer and notice there are several items that I can no longer identify.
- I clear the freezer, which makes it evident there is nothing in there for dinner either.
- I go to the store.
And really, I never get my kitchen tidied up. Ever. There is too much stuff that goes on in there, like homework and eating, also sometimes cooking.
Clearly, this is not where my skill lies. My ability to see beyond the problem at hand, to follow a thread and see where it takes me, helps me in my professional life. But it’s not worth a moldy kidney bean the rest of the time.
Who knew work could be such a refuge.