Every now and then I post about the various tools I like to use to get organized. Then a few weeks go by, and I am usually posting about what a mess my house is. The truth is, the best organizational tools in the world won’t help you unless you use them. Sticking with the process is the hardest part of getting organized for me.
Unsurprisingly, I was faced with a messy house yesterday and a pile of tasks that had been begging to be done for weeks, and I finally felt I had no choice: I was going to have to suck it up and just do them.
The thing is, I am the worst self-motivator in the world. I know I’m so much happier when the day’s meals are planned, the laundry is chugging away in the washing machine, and I’m not tripping over shoes in the entryway, but that’s not enough to get me to put down the laptop and make it happen. There is, sadly, no magic potion that is going to make me face the mundane tasks I’d prefer to avoid. Often mind games are my only tool.
Sometimes I succeed by convincing myself that my dear mother-in-law (who was born with a bottle of Windex in one hand and a squeegee in the other) might drop by for tea. That’s unbelievably motivating when it works, but I couldn’t use that one this week – she’s away on vacation.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the drive to keep with the program (whatever the program may be at the time) has to come from within. I’m still working on that, but I thought I’d share what I did yesterday and how it helped:
I first broke down my big tasks into smaller, do-able bites, and wrote them down as such. I have a much easier time looking at a long list of easy tasks, than I do a short list of really big tasks. Enormous tasks have a “where do I begin?” element about them that often leaves me paralyzed.
Then I picked the task that would deliver the most bang for the least effort, and started there. A clean living room is a happy-making thing for me. It’s the room with the front door, so it’s also the place that is the most mortifying if it’s a disaster when unexpected company drops by. A clean living room allows me to welcome someone into my home and keep them right there so they don’t see what’s lurking in the rest of the house.
Now, here’s the important part. Telling myself to clean the living room usually doesn’t work (if it did, I wouldn’t have this problem.) It feels like a big job. Telling myself to clean the living room for 15 minutes, is another story. That I can do. And to make it a more interesting 15 minutes, there should be something for my brain to do while my body is wiping fingerprints off of glass tables. Enter podcasts.
I have a selection of podcasts that I enjoy. I subscribe to their feeds, and I download any episode that I think I may want to listen to at some point. My podcasts folder is quite full at this point, and it runs the gamut from 5-minute music reviews to 2-hour interviews. Yesterday, I picked out a 20-minute Craftypod, and told myself to clean the living room for as long as the podcast was playing. At the end of 20 minutes, I had learned a little something about Craft Leftovers, and had a nice-looking room that was no longer an embarassment.
Better yet, I found motivation.
I used more podcasts to get me through cleaning the kitchen, starting the crock pot, and tackling the daunting task of digging through my wardrobe for donate-able things I no longer wear (I generated 2 big garbage bags full and got to see the top of my dresser for the first time in a year!).
There are more things on my list today, and luckily I am still in the right frame of mind to get them done.
If you’re feeling stuck like me, might I suggest picking a task, a time limit, and a podcast long enough to fill that time nicely? You hardly realize you’re doing mindless work, when you’re listening to something interesting.
Here are the podcasts that are currently on my must-listen list. Some of them I only listen to certain parts, and others I may skip whole episodes whose descriptions don’t grab me, but even with that, there’s still plenty to listen to.
- APM: A Prairie Home Companion’s News from Lake Wobegon
- APM: The Splendid Table
- Craftcast with Alison Lee
- CraftSanity » Podcasts
- CraftyPod » Podcast!
- Hello Craft!
- LOST Podcast: The Transmission
- More Hip Than Hippie Podcast
- Television Zombies: Podcast
- WFUV’s Music Review Podcast
If any of you can suggest more great listening, I’m all ears!
P.S. I also recommend Pandora, if you’re in a musical mood.