Keep It Simple, Silly: Kissing Drudgery Goodbye

Keep It Simple Silly: Kissing Drudgery Goodbye

March is turning out to be a very wet month here in North Texas. Ice, then rain, then ice, then snow, then more rain. My backyard is a swamp right now. Having just returned home from a quick road trip, my minivan was coated in road gunk and mud, and you could barely see out the driver side window anymore. The forecast for the week is warm and drier, but today, it’s pouring rain. Again. So I did what any water-conserving lunatic would do.

I bundled up in my boots and rain coat and went outside to wash my minivan.

I’m sure the neighbors thought I was crazy, backing the van out of the warm, dry garage into the driveway, letting it get good and soaked, and then trudging out there with a large dog bowl full of water and a few drops of earth-friendly soap and a large sponge to wipe the mud off the van. Did I mention I was still wearing bright red pajama pants under the raincoat? Why not get the muddy, wet chore out of the way before my nice hot shower? I know how to schedule these things!

What started off as a little “let me see if I can save myself a trip to the car wash this week” experiment turned into pure fun when I realized I was giggling like a child, soaping up my dirty minivan with an oversize sponge while rain poured on my head. The rain rinsed the mud away almost as fast as I could scrub it, which made the whole process very satisfying. A few neighbors pulled down the alley and paused to gawk at me out there scrubbing away, but I didn’t care. It only took 10 minutes to get the van clean, and I never had to waste a drop of water from the hose.

Sometimes, just by looking at the situation a little differently, you can find ways to bring fun to everyday drudgery. Washing a muddy car in the rain. Sliding damp towels around a dirty floor with your feet to “mop” to the beat of your favorite song. Practicing your three-point shooting skills when tossing laundry into the hamper. Racing to finish a chore during the commercial breaks of your favorite guilty-pleasure TV show.

What chore can you make fun today?

How Clutter Zaps Your Energy

I’ve been thinking about clutter and energy lately, and how the two are so closely linked. When my house is cluttered and dirty, I feel drained. If you’re finding yourself constantly low on energy, take a look at your surroundings. Is your home or workspace cluttered or dirty? Is your to-do list a mile long? Is your brain on constant overload? Answers to those questions could be hints pointing to potential energy zappers.

Physical Clutter

A house full of excess stuff can be depressing and energy draining. Few things zap my energy as much as clutter. I can literally feel the energy seep out of me when I’m standing in a packed room. Psychologically, a room full of stuff has less room for people, so you may feel crowded and out of place. Your eyes are constantly scanning the room, trying to put the pieces in place, and with little space for your eyes to rest, the scene can exhaust you. Seeing all that stuff reminds you of all the tasks you “should” be doing – sorting, organizing, dealing with all that stuff. Not only does the clutter deplete your energy, it consumes precious time. People who live with clutter spend time each day looking for lost items such as keys, shoes, wallets, important papers. Even when the item is right where it’s supposed to be, it can be visually lost in a sea of other things.

Clearing away the clutter brings immediate visual peace to a space, and that by itself can give you an energy boost. Keep a donation or get-rid-of box in a spare room or by the door, and get in the habit of dropping in items you run across that you’re not using or you don’t like. Fill up those trash cans and recycle bins. Find places for items you use and love to “live” so you always know where to look for them. No one expects your home to be clutter-free all the time, but you do need to be able to find what you need when you need it.

Dirty Surroundings

Much like physical clutter, being in a dirty room can drain your energy and put you on edge. A sink full of dirty dishes reminds you that you should wash them. A pile of dirty laundry reminds you that there’s washing, drying, folding and putting away that needs to be done. Every room carries those visual reminders of all the cleaning chores that need to be done, and it’s grueling just thinking about it. Having guests over becomes exhausting – you don’t want anyone to see your home dirty or cluttered, so you spend hours cleaning and stashing stuff before you allow friends or family to come visit. If it’s too dirty, you may be so tired just thinking about the cleaning that you decide it’s not worth the energy to have people over.

Nothing energizes me quite like a clean house. If the grunge in your home is getting to you, take a day or a weekend to really deep clean your home, then develop a clean-as-you-go mentality. Get in the habit of washing dishes right away, putting dirty clothes in the hamper and running laundry regularly, vacuuming and sweeping frequently, cleaning up food spills or dirt as they happen. Once your home is clean, maintaining it takes minimal effort.

Mental Clutter

Tasks that are undone can drain your energy just as much as physical clutter can. When you have to-do’s and tasks that are unfinished, they continually distract you, often sapping more energy than it would take to finish the tasks in the first place. Procrastinating consumes so much energy because not only is your brain worrying about finishing the task, new to-do’s are piling up on top on the unfinished ones. Just thinking about how much you have to do can drain you.

While having a packed schedule may seem the norm these days, the energy drain is just too much to pay. Go over your to-do list and calendar and see which tasks and commitments can be delegated or dropped altogether. Try these tips for keeping a simplified to-do list. Learn to say no to tasks that aren’t vitally important and that don’t bring you joy, and protect your time like the precious resource it is.