Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On Burnout

"Why are my tribal vases under the sink?"

So last week I (sort of) finished up Money Saving Mom's "4 Weeks to a More Organized Home" program. Some of you played along, others are planning to, and some of you couldn't care less.

Hyperbole and a Half
For me, having a plan laid out was really helpful. I get very, very overwhelmed when I look around at all the various things that need to be done. I can keep my house liveable on a day-to-day basis, but I would never call it "clean" because of all the nasty little tasks that slip by for weeks, then months, and then in many cases, years. I know I'm not alone in that, which is why I'm swallowing my shame and admitting how friggin' disgusting I am.

But alas, life does not stop for a perfectly laid-out schedule. Doctor's appointments, funerals, vacations, and general random "life wrenches" can make it impossible to stay 100%, completely on task.

And that is 100%, completely okay.

When I took on the "4 Weeks" program, I told myself up front that while I wanted to stick with it as much as possible, I wasn't going to view imperfection as failure. Sometimes I like to make my to-do list at night instead of over coffee in the morning. Sometimes I don't have one at all. Some days my kids want to go to the park and that leaves no time for an all-day task like cleaning base boards. Sometimes I'm tired and have an ear infection and I decide that resting and reading a book or cuddling my children is a better use of my time than organizing drawers or whatever.

Progress, not perfection.

I think you really do have to be okay with it NOT being all-or-nothing. A refrigerator cleaned three days late is still a clean refrigerator, you know? There is no failure as long as there's progress, regardless of whose time table it falls on.  So even if you're a few days or a week behind, or you've lost track because you got overwhelmed—that's okay. There are some days when the oven is just not going to get clean. Do something else, something small, just for that feeling of accomplishment. Or don't. It's genuinely okay.

Hyperbole and a Half
When you look at the "4 Weeks" list, see it as a guideline, not a rigid program. If you don't, you will flame out and give up. I guarantee it. There are very few people with the discipline to stick rigidly to something like this, and to try to force yourself to be one of them is a recipe for failure. Do what you can, when you can. Make yourself choose to succeed.

What I've done instead is kept a list of all the tasks I didn't accomplish, as well as some that I  discovered along the way (like wiping down and touching up paint on all the interior doors). I'll use that list as a guide to get shit done when I have the time and motivation. There are some things on there for Husband to do, like clean the top of the cabinets and refrigerator. We'll finish it together, in good time, when our unique life allows for it.

Good luck to my friends who are just beginning. You'll be glad you did, no matter how many or how few tasks you complete. Tailor it to your unique life and you'll be just fine.

And if you're in need of a really good laugh, read Hyperbole and a Half's post about basically this same thing. Bitch is funny. That's her graphic up at the top of this post.

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