At the end of the day, the house will still need to be cleaned. There may be some areas that are visibly cleaner than they were this morning. Or not.
Here’s a blow-by-blow description of why.
Task: clean up. The first part is to get random detritus off the counter tops and the top of the fish tank, putting it all away (preferably not just shoved in an 18 gallon Rubbermaid bin), and wiping off the dust, dirt, and inexplicable sticky stuff that is found under all the things.
Here is a Christmas wreath of yarn and pom-poms, lying on the kitchen counter. It was made by number one daughter a couple years ago. She was overjoyed that it was put into service as the official front door wreath this year. Sadly, the white-hot temperatures that develop between our southern-facing dark green front door and the glass storm door quite handily melted the hot glue holding said wreath together and bits began falling off. Daughter was devastated, so the wreath can’t be simply thrown away. It needs to be refurbished and hung in a more climate-controlled location.
So, I obtain the glue gun and glue sticks (luckily located for other projects last week. Well, the glue gun was, and the extra glue sticks were not found at that time, but were located later, when the same sewing basket was rifled once again in search of the foot pedal to the sewing machine. The foot pedal was nowhere to be found, but the previously absent glue sticks had warped in from a dimensional rift. So that was lucky for today.)
While waiting for the glue gun to heat up, I pick up the next item cluttering up the counter. It’s an information form about pictures taken at preschool. I sit at the computer, find the web site, sign in, and try to decide if any of the pics are good enough to spend money on. Then call the photographer and leave a message. By then the glue gun is hot, so I glue bits back onto the wreath. I have no idea how the teachers originally succeeded in gluing he hanging loop on the back, and in my attempt, I manage to burn my fingers as well as adhere the photography information sheet to the back of the wreath.
So that represents about 30 minutes of work, and two items I’ve tried to clean up have progressed about 75% toward actually being off the counter top and put somewhere sensible. And they’re stuck together.
Every additional stray sheet of paper, toy, UPS package, and decoration brings with it a high possibility of involving similar calendar transfers, contact list additions, e-mails, phone calls, repairs, cleaning, input from other adults, children, or bureaucracies, reorganization of the space into which I wish to put the thing, and/or disassembly and deposition into the recycling of some form of package, box, or bag.
So, at the end of the day I’ve done an executive assistant’s worth of filing, calendar management, and contact maintenance, several crafts, some mending, de-cluttering and reorganization worthy of a TLC show, and enough box handling to qualify me to work at UPS. And the house looks about the same.
Finally, I’ve started adding things to my To Do list as I complete them, and including each step of a task as a separate entry. “Clean kitchen” gets replaced with neatly checked-off entries such as:
take recycling out to garage
take overflowing garage recycling out to curb container
realize in a panic that it’s recycling day and sprint curb container down to curb as truck pulls up
wave sheepishly at truck driver
At the end of the day, my To Do list is immense, and almost every item is checked off! My house still looks about the same. But at least I know the answer when I (or anyone else, should they dare be so reckless) wonders what the heck I did all day!