Tuesday, March 1, 2011

the 20 minute solution.

a few weeks ago, i spent the entire day dreading the dishes that were piled in my sink.  i have a dishwasher, but it was full of clean dishes (which i LOATHE unloading) and my sink strainer was full of other clean pots and pans, and so the task seemed fairly overwhelming to me.

(this is much like today, though my attitude has changed from dread to apathy, but that's another discussion for another time.)

i spent the day getting more and more angry at the mere presence of the dishes, feeling used and abused by the reality of life in a house where stuff has to keep getting done because We Are Adults, and when i did finally go in and do the stupid dishes, it was late afternoon and i was in a colossally bad mood.

and it only took me 20 minutes, from start to finish, including cleaning the counters.

my kitchen was clean in 20 minutes.

this was just a revelation to me.  i spent hours and hours and hours getting myself worked up over a task that took me 20 minutes to do well.  what a monumental waste of time and energy.

i share this not to pat myself on the back (as i mentioned, the dishes are a constant source of annoyance to me, and one of my duties today is to tame them once more), but to suggest that one of the ways that we can help ourselves lead balanced lives is to a) put things into perspective and b) have a plan. 

now, when i'm feeling particularly annoyed by a household chore, i set my little ladybug timer (which was a suggestion of a dear friend of mine).  if i'm not done in 20 minutes, i'm allowed to do something else for a while and come back.  it makes it manageable, at least psychologically, and i'm always amazed that it's almost always done in that time. 

the 20 minute rule is new for me, and i've not perfected it, as evidenced by the conspicuous pile of dishes that's part of my to-do list, but i'm working on developing a strategy to balance keeping my home a house of order, a place where peace can reign, with the rest of my life. i am just never going to be one of those people who enjoys cleaning, but i can enjoy the fruits of my labor.

the 20 minute rule helps me stay that way. 

what are your strategies for keeping the home that you live in conducive to peaceful, balanced life? i'm dying to shamelessly use all of your strategies!


  1. I do that with grading. After I finish each set, I can do something else for a few minutes. It eases the pain! :)

  2. I do that with the gym. On days I really want to do nothing, I tell myself to go to the gym and I can leave after 15 minutes if I'm still miserable. Usually by that point, I'm into it.

  3. Girl.. I do that with my bathroom. I don't mind cleaning the tub, the sink or the toilet, but i LOATHE cleaning the floor. It's quick & simple when I do it, but I think it's just awful because it's 100% my boyfriend's body hair. Oh and the insane dust behind the toilet. So I give myself 3 minutes... 3 minutes.. and it's done. But I just HATE doing it.

  4. I reward myself with chocolate for doing chores I don't like. That motivates me to get moving!

    You know what also helps? Invite people over often. Whenever I invite friends over, I clean like a crazy woman.