Fixing the Little Irritants

[caption id="attachment_477" align="alignnone" width="500"] My freshly cleaned oh-so-usable kitchen counter[/caption]

You know how sometimes everything seems to go wrong at once? For me, last month it was the air conditioner that died, the front door that stopped closing, the piece of roof flashing that blew off the house, and the freezer defrosting in a power outage.

Sometimes it's like that.

Sometimes, though, it's more subtle. Sometimes it's the little things piling up around you that throw your life in disarray: clutter, bills, errands, or maybe even too many things on the calendar.

Yesterday, I tackled some of those little things and you won't believe how big a difference it made in my comfort level.

I started by tidying the bedroom- making the bed, picking up clothes, putting The Little One's toys in a box. (We keep a few toys in the bedroom to keep him entertained if we're still getting dressed in the morning. Strategically placed distractions are key!)

Effort level = less than 5 minutes.

Then I moved on to the studio where a futon still lay flat in the middle of the floor from a house guest that left two weeks ago. I gathered the bedding, returned the futon to couch position against the wall, and tidied up the window seat pillows.

Effort level = about 5 minutes.

Feeling calm and happy with great results in such little time, I went downstairs to move on about my day. But stepping foot in the kitchen I was instantly stressed out.

I looked around to see exactly what was wrong. The counters. There seemed to be stuff everywhere, despite the fact I had finally taken all those canned tomatoes and sauce to the basement a few days before.

There was no way I could prepare a meal in that kitchen until I fixed it. I just can't handle all that clutter. So, I set to work putting away dishes and washing sippy cups. The rest of the clutter on the counter was normal stuff that's always there, but I still felt constricted. It was time to reassess.

Item by item, I determined whether or not it truly needed to take up counter space.

Cutting board? Keep. I use that every day.

Vase of big spoons? Keep. It holds the bigger spoons, ladles, and tongs that don't fit well in the big utensil drawer. Convenient, and not overly annoying.

Bowl of toddler dishes, spoons, and bibs? Move. This had happened early on in the bottle days to keep things convenient, but now that we're on to solid foods and sippy cups, keeping them on the counter isn't necessary. The spoons were moved to the silverware drawer, the bibs to an open shelf for quick grabbing, and the bowls to the dishes cabinet.

Bread? Move. Bread has never had a proper home. Sometimes it's stuffed in a random cabinet on top of mixing bowls, sometimes it's on the counter. I made space on a shelf in the snack cabinet, giving it a new home.

Produce tray? Keep. This reminds me what we have, makes it easy to use, and more likely for the boys to grab a healthy snack. Plus it's pretty.

On the process went until I had purposefully decided to keep or move each item on the counter. This was a bigger level of effort, but still not bad...

Effort level = about 30 minutes (including dishwashing and counter reworking)

When my husband walked in and saw me cleaning, he commented on how great the counters looked (yay for me, and gold star to my hubby for saying so). Then he looked up and said, "no wonder it seemed dark in here."

All three bulbs in our center light were out and so was one of the can light bulbs over the sink. My husband went to the garage for a ladder and began replacing bulbs.

Effort level = about 5 minutes

Fixing each one of these little irritants made me feel so much better about my home. Sure, there are plenty of other things that still need fixing or finishing or decluttering or whatever, but I know they won't all get done in one day. Besides, that would be one dull day.

Instead, I picked the couple of things that bothered me most and spent a few minutes fixing them. 45 minutes total fixed three problem areas. That's pretty darn good if you ask me!

Look around your home or office or car - wherever you spend time. What little thing is causing you stress? Is it a countertop? Your kitchen table? Your desk drawer? Your shower? Spend a few minutes on it and see how you feel. It's just a few minutes. No need to make it a big ordeal or half day cleaning project. Those few minutes just may give you some peace of mind.

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  1. I'm always amazed at how easy it is to relieve that clutter stress by taking the time to clear part of it. My problem is that I have to remind myself to just take care of the problem and not dig deeper and clean the drawer or cabinet that I opened to put away a spoon or tray. If I start with that, then every drawer I open leads me to another space to clear and I get frustrated. But when I do listen to the voice that says "just clear the surfaces", I feel, as you did, a great sense of relief and even joy.

  2. Yes! This is something I remind myself of quite a lot -- that pile that is stressing me can be cleaned in far less time than I think it will take and then the rest of the day will go so much better!


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