You know those people that just spring out of bed in the morning radiating sunshine? Sadly, I am not reliably chipper on a daily basis. As much as I’d love to burst out of my bedroom dancing a jig to the triumphant theme song of my life; occasionally I have to forcibly generate positivity. This usually follows a night of poor sleep and the sense that my chicken wings are sliding off the over-laden plate of life. I know I’m not alone here.
I am definitely of the ‘clean desk policy’ ilk. Outer order = inner calm. However, the accumulation of life’s clutter is forming a barricade between me and general happiness. Everywhere I look there are jobs waiting to be done. Although I’m fighting the good fight, I’m definitely not winning the war. As time pressures build; so too does the feeling of being overwhelmed. As that feeling of being overwhelmed builds; I am less and less able to think clearly or move with focus and efficiency. As my focus and efficiency wanes; so too does my sense of contentedness.
The post-baby juggle
I’d like to point out that although I hold a life-long membership card to the outer order = inner calm ideology. I, by no means, live in the kind of home that dust is too frightened to settle in. My (long suffering) husband’s style could be classified as more nesty than nordic, and we have two small children - I barely need to say more. Mr 3 has been fondly dubbed, ‘The wrecking ball’, and Miss 1-on-Saturday is at that really super stage where she decants every cupboard and drawer she passes.
Sometimes I fantasise about having three full days on my own to meticulously go through every room, cupboard and drawer sorting and categorising as I go. (I’m feeling a little hit of endorphins just thinking about it.) I’d keep (and order), chuck, donate and sell each item as necessary; having time to do every single inch of the house and surrounds. A few sexy nights in with my label maker... but I digress. This remains a fantasy. Before children I liked to start and finish a job in one hit, slashing through my list of to-dos with a gratuitous strike-through. Those fond memories are no longer a reality, and thus, a barricade is building with little to-dos stacked one on top of the other.
So yesterday, when I was just about to spiral out of control, I went for a brisk walk to regroup. I decided to listen to the podcast: Happier with Gretchen Rubin. Cynically, I was anticipating that it wouldn’t be 30 seconds before I’d want to punch her in her cheerful little face, but I was absolutely wrong and happened upon a brilliant life hack.
The one-minute rule
Gretchen Rubin, with her sister, Elizabeth Craft, were talking about the one-minute rule which is very simple to adopt. Quite simply, if there is a task that will only take one minute, do it straight away e.g a one line answer to an email, open the post and sort it, throw on a load of laundry, pick up a few toys, make a bed, get out something for dinner, pull out a couple of weeds, take out the rubbish, put dishes away etc. etc. Do that irritating, nagging thing that jumps out to taunt you as you pass it - so long as it will take less than one minute. Without specifically assigning a block of time to clearing the clutter, it began to recede as if by its own accord. Without having to deal with the whole lot at the end of the day, I could jump ahead to preparing things for the following day and get ahead of the game. With the niggles out of the way I am actually in a good frame of mind to be taking on and accomplishing bigger and more important tasks. So here I am chipping away at the good stuff and basking in psychological sunshine!