I realized this week that I have lost some of my focus. I have been working a lot more than usual and have gotten caught up in all that entails. Setting the alarm for 5:30 is not really my idea of fun. Taking the dog for a walk in the pitch dark is not ideal. Slapping cheese on toast is not really lunch. Coming home too exhausted to cook is not relaxing. Yup, I am a bit off kilter.
I got a breather one day this week when I notified my boss I would hit overtime at the rate she had me working. My company hates to pay overtime, so she asked me to only work 4 hours the next day. That morning I didn’t even set the alarm and I slept until 7:15! I walked the dog in the daylight, cooked myself a nice breakfast and made a healthy smoothie for lunch. I finally remembered to choose health!
I still had some time before I needed to head out the door, so I thought for a minute and then I grabbed a broom and did a quick sweep of the bathroom, hallway, living room, dining room and kitchen. Then I breathed a big sigh of relief and expressed gratitude that my house had gotten some attention. I was so happy that I got to spend a few minutes maintaining my home.
A few years ago I realized that I wanted my home to be relaxing, simple, joyful and easy to maintain. For me, this isn’t one of those small goals that would be nice to achieve, it is one of my top 7 goals around which I structure my life. I don’t strive for perfection, I just want to keep things simple. I find clutter, overflowing laundry baskets, and piles of stuff distracting and unsettling. The more time I spend taking care of things, the less time I have to do activities that I actually love.
I can’t focus on the big things when so many little things are demanding my attention. Clothes piled up on my dresser is often my first indicator that my stress level is rising and that I am not managing my time in a manner that maintains my health.
Spending a few minutes before work, simply sweeping was such a good feeling. It was a reminder that is incredibly important to celebrate the little things. Don’t get me wrong it is important to celebrate a wedding, a college graduation, a milestone birthday, or a big promotion but these things are not weekly occurrences. Finding 10 minutes to do something that reduces my stress a tiny bit made me do a happy dance! Woot, Woot!
It is oh so easy to get caught up in the daily grind. Get up, go to work, eat dinner, watch television, go to sleep and repeat the cycle day in and day out. We forget to tell our loved ones how much we appreciate them. We let little annoyances become big ones by not taking care of them. We spend less time doing activities we enjoy and instead engage in time wasters like television, Facebook, mindless surfing the internet because these things don’t take any effort. We procrastinate joy in order to do what needs to get done.
Spending 10 minutes the other day doing a half-assed job (as my dad would say) sweeping not only made me happy it encouraged me to do more today. Today, I vacuumed the rugs and floor, then swept the floors and then swept them again. I emptied the composers into the garden, pulled up the dead plants and put away my garden pots. I think I was making up for lost time! I better warn my honey to watch out – a cleaning frenzy is brewing!
Celebrating my 10 minutes of sweeping not only encouraged me to do more home maintenance stuff today, it also reminded me not to cancel my dinner plans with a friend after work. You see, spending time doing things I enjoy with people I care about is another one of my top 7 goals.
When you notice you are getting so stressed out by the day-to-day B.S. that you are not living your life strategically; in pursuit of your goals, then STOP and BREATHE. Remind yourself of your goals, of what is important to you and spend a few minutes in pursuit of your goals. Then celebrate that small step because it will likely prompt you to take another step and then another! This is a much better cycle to repeat then get up, go to work, eat dinner, watch television, go to bed and repeat.
Do you think it is weird that one of my top goals is to have a simple, easy to maintain home? I used to think so too. But identifying this as a goal prompted me to move to a smaller home. During that move, I got rid of a lot of belongings that I didn’t use or didn’t love. If it didn’t fit in my small cottage it didn’t come. Since that time I have moved again and donated, tossed or gave away more possessions. I also banned myself for shopping for the sake of shopping.
Having a simple, easy to maintain home not only decreases my stress level and increases my happiness; it makes it easier for me to concentrate on my other goals in life. I spend less time dealing with stuff. Less time organizing, picking up, tripping over and putting away stuff gives me more time to do what I enjoy – like playing in my garden!
One of the things I love to do is to invite friends over for a home cooked meal. Only needing to spend 10 minutes making the house presentable gives me more time to cook a yummy meal, play games and socialize with my peeps; all things I actually enjoy!
Go ahead, take a small step in pursuit of your goals and then CELEBRATE!