Balance versus Perfection

So I tend to be the kind of person who has two speeds – 0 and 110. There is no in-between, it’s all-or-nothing. This is how I can be a person who so desperately craves order, stability, and tidiness and still have a messy apartment. If I can’t do EVERYTHING, I just don’t do ANYTHING, and then I marathon clean.

Through the years I’ve tried a number of “methods” for dealing with this. Some, like FlyLady, made me absolutely batshit, from the gender essentialism and the Jesus talk to the idea that I should be spending 15 minutes 3-5 times a day cleaning… it wasn’t a good fit. Especially now that I work from home. Some, like The Organized Mum Method (TOMM), were clearly designed for someone who wanted to be cleaning way more than I do, and who was working around little kids as the primary caregiver (though with less gender essentialism, thankfully).

The only one that’s ever really made a dent is UnFuck Your Habitat, by Rachel Hoffman. Hoffman makes no bones that cleaning kind of sucks, but that everyone has to do it. She vehemently speaks out against gender bullshit, actively advocates for those of us with mental health issues, and is generally speaking someone whose advice I have gotten a lot of good from.

The problem? It still relies on my doing a little bit of something every day, and while I’m slowly getting better at that, I’m still not good at it.

Enter my current life situation – I’m moving on May 9. That’s 66 days from today – nine weeks from Saturday. And I’m kind of thoroughly ensconced in this little apartment, and the place I’m moving to is smaller and has less storage, so I’m needing to declutter a lot. I could ignore this until April 15, pack in a whirlwind, stress myself to kingdom come, get it all done in a fit of furious work, and end up being just fine, but the last time I did that, I was getting divorced and it was frankly really traumatic.

So instead I’m trying a different method. I’ve committed to spending at least 20 minutes, six days a week (I get one day off) doing SOMETHING that will make moving easier. Decluttering, boxing things up, moving clothes from my closet into my chest of drawers, taking out trash, taking trips to goodwill, whatever. As long as it is taking steps towards moving, it counts. And so far (I’m a little over a week in) I’m actually sticking to it.

It’s not fun exactly, but it is fun to see my apartment coming together, especially as I clear out layers of clutter that I haven’t really looked at in three years. (Also I’m astonished how much STUFF I still have, for living in a one bedroom apartment.)

So here’s what I did with today’s 20 minutes:

  • went through my earrings and pitched all the ones that I didn’t love (this was most of them, as they’d all gotten very tarnished and most were cheap)
  • packed up all my RPG stuff that isn’t my actively-in-use 5E books
  • discarded some old shoes that I don’t like/don’t wear/etc

It’s not the most organized process, and that’s a bit unlike me (normally in the past I would have spent three hours making a spreadsheet), but I’m slowly making a dent in the “moving sucks” pile, and it’s felt really good. Depression is kicking my ass, but I can still do 20 minutes on a break from my work day – I find if I don’t do things early in the day I run out of spell slots and end up not actually getting anything done.

I’ll check in with more progress as we go, but for now this feels like I’m at least chipping away at something instead of ignoring it until the last minute and then doing it all in one fell swoop (and hating myself the whole time).

Starting off 2013

I usually don’t make “New Year’s Resolutions”, simply because I don’t think this is always the best time of year to be starting new things. After the bustle of the holidays, winter sets in, and I’m up for a period of resting and recharging, not reorganizing my linen closet.

At least, that was my plan, but I’ve found myself setting up some mental goals in the last week anyway, maybe because so many other people are doing it. Instead of vague, unmeasurable goals though, I want to set up things that I can actually track. Maybe I will readjust my plans after a month or so, but at least I’d like to have some idea of whether I’ve stuck to these or not. As such, I’m not making goals for the whole year, just for the month of January. Ideally I can make some of these things into habits, and if I remember, I’ll revisit them in February. That seems more manageable to me.

So what are these goals?

Eat out only once per week.

My work schedule has changed from the 9-80 to a regular 40 hour, 5 day work week. This means I’m not getting up quite as early (6am instead of 4:45), which means I’m not going to bed quite as early, which means I have a little more flexibility in my evenings. SSH and I are both feeling like we could eat better, and the more cooking I do, the less I have to eat frozen gluten free meals for lunch (which are OK, but there are only about 4 options that I consider edible, and that gets old fast). If I limit our eating out, and cook more in the crock pot, I’ll have more leftovers for that, and we’ll both be eating much healthier.

Blog once per week.

Easier said than done. I miss writing about things, and I can access my wordpress login to this blog from work, so hopefully I’ll remember to keep things updated. If I keep up with my other goals, this one should be easy, since I’ll have something to talk about beyond work and sleep.

Walk at least 1 mile, three times per week.

After a pain flare, my schedule got the better of me again, and I quit walking (and biking). I’m still tracking the miles to Rivendell, and I’m ALMOST to Crickhollow. I will be trying to walk MORE than my minimum, but 3 miles a week is my minimum goal. It’s the best time of year for walking in Texas, since I don’t have to change clothes to walk right now. Hopefully I can set up a proper walking habit. This means changing my evening schedule slightly, since I’ve been showering as soon as I get home from work, and spending the evening in PJs, but I think now that I can stay up until 10, I can make it work.

Spend at least one night per week reading.

I realized that I think I only finished two books in 2012, and that makes me pretty sad. Especially given that I used to work at a frigging bookstore, so I have no shortage of books. So I’ve set a goal to FINISH at least book a month in 2013. You can find me on GoodReads if that’s your thing. I’ll be posting there as I finish books. I’m not going to make myself read all fiction though, since I’m apparently still too easily wrapped up in things. The last book I finished was very good, but I spent a whole weekend being sad after finishing it, which isn’t super fun. Re-reading counts too, but I’m going to limit my re-reads. I do want to get through Harry Potter again, once I finish Lord of the Rings.

Spend at least one evening per week doing a craft or hobby.

This will probably be spinning, since I have my new spinning wheel to learn! It might also be knitting or sewing, or writing letters. Or maybe doing canning projects. I feel like since I started my new job, all my hobbies except “putter around on the internet” have been largely abandoned. Hence the goal of doing them one night a week! This is allowed to be done while watching television, though we’re in the Long, Dark, Miserably Baseball-less Winter, so there’s not a lot I want to watch during the week.

Meditate at least 10 minutes, two days a week.

This can include seated meditation, walking meditation, mantra meditation, or stretching/yoga type meditation, just so that I don’t get bored. I’m allowed to combine this with the walking 3 times a week goal, but I have to actually concentrate on using the walk as a meditation, not just say “well I walked, that counts for two things.”

Unfuck my house at least once a week

Those not familiar with Unfuck Your Habitat may want to check out their tumblr, about page, tips, and welcome packet. It’s suited me better than FlyLady, which was becoming a constant source of anxiety instead of helping me keep my house clean. Working 12 hour days and needing at least 8 hours sleep apparently isn’t the ideal situation to feel like you have to spend at least an hour cleaning your house every day. I like the 20/10 system, and it’s helped me keep on top of the housework in a short time on weekends. Except for laundry, which still takes several hours, but there’s not much I can do about that. Anyway, I want to continue to keep on top of that, so this is really a “continuing” goal instead of a new one.

I am hoping I’m not biting off more than I can chew, but I think it’ll be a good experiment to do for a month. If any of these proves to be obnoxious, I will not hesitate to axe them from the list. Most of this list is about having more fun and being more well rounded, and if I’m miserably sitting in my living room spinning because it’s “official spinning day” and I’m hating every minute of it, that kind of defeats the point. So maybe these are more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules (thank you, Capt. Barbossa).

Feel free to help keep me accountable for this. I’m tired of doing nothing but work, putter on the computer, and sleep! Here’s to January!