The Imperfect Lifestyle

12.06.2023

I was talking with a new friend who was asking what I did for a living. After telling her I help people simplify, declutter, and organize she said, “Well, your house must be perfect.” I had to laugh. After a busy week my desk was strewed with stuff and if I wanted to play the piano I would have had to move a big pile.

This work is never about being perfect. Home care is only part of a full life. I teach skills so when you get a messy desk, within a week it’s back to clear. The piano bench will get cleared off sooner rather than later. Paperwork doesn’t get out of control.

But, it’s never going to be perfect. People live in your house. It is exhausting thinking it needs to be perfect.

Yesterday a friend dropped by unexpectedly and I didn’t panic or feel badly because I hadn’t gotten to my dishes yet. We had eaten recently. It’s no big deal. People know we use dishes. The bathroom was mostly clean. I did see a bit of calcium deposit around my faucet that I plan to take care of today.

I find the more we expect perfection (for myself and my clients), the more we procrastinate. “If I can’t get this project completed today, then I’ll just wait until I have more time available.” “If I can’t get the kitchen spotless, what is the point of cleaning. I’ll do it later when I have a full hour.”

When for most us, we are doing home care in between other life activities. Many people don’t have 1-3 hours for a deep clean or declutter. We do cleaning in 15 min chunks. Which means some tasks aren’t completed, but we are moving home care forward.

People think they aren’t “doing enough” if the house is not completely clean and in order. Then they feel badly about themselves. And of course “enough” is never a specific criteria. It’s some vague notion out there that you can’t seem to reach. If we never define enough then we can never reach it.

What if you approached housekeeping a little lighter. Set up your routines and practice decluttering in 15 minute chunks (I have a declutter calendar that can help you with that) and when the home gets away from you for a bit, come back to the routines and decluttering.

Have reminders on your calendar, so you remember you wanted to do tasks like weekly paperwork and vacuuming. See where you can fit the tasks in, delegate it, or leave it a week, knowing you can come back to it next week.

And if you notice you leave it week after week, brainstorm where you can fit it in. Can you take a folder of paperwork with you, when you pick the kids up from school? Can you do a quick vacuum while waiting for the spaghetti water to boil?

Both those options are possible if you aren’t stuck in the fictional perfection of what vacuuming and paperwork has to look like.

Live a good enough lifestyle, where you don’t expect perfection from yourself or your home. Live a full life, invite people in to your imperfection and make the world feel like a kinder place.

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