For the month of October, we’re tackling all those little projects that never seem to make it to your to do list in a series I’m called Taking Care of Small Things. Think of this as pretty much the opposite of a big fall clean. The idea is carving out time for tasks that should take you an hour or less, in hopes that you’ll save big time or money down the road!
Here are some of the tasks we’ve tackled so far:
- Organized our keys (and made spares, if necessary)
- Made a list of our family’s favorite dinners (to help with meal planning)
- Updated first aid supplies
- Updated the spice pantry
Today’s task is another small item, but I guarantee you’ll feel oh-so-good after it’s done. You’re going to clean off one space in your home that’s cluttered. This might be a coffee table, entertainment center, or the top of the piano. If you don’t have a cluttered counter, you could alternately tackle a single drawer or other small area of your home that drives you bonkers. I decided to focus on this one particularly horrifying kitchen counter. Behold:
Please oh please tell me I’m not the only one that has a space like this! This counter is just inside my kitchen and it tends to be where everyone likes to set their stuff in a hurry. As you can tell, it hasn’t been cleaned in any too long. Even when I’m cleaning the kitchen, I usually don’t have the energy to bother with it. So today, I decided to give my time and attention to this little cluttery counter.
Let’s observe a few of the random items I came across in cleaning it, shall we?
A piece of a barrel we got from the Budweiser brewery tour in St. Louis last summer. Cool souvenir! But where does it go? No clue. That’s how it ended up on this counter.
Orajel… probably pulled it out when someone was dealing with a toothache, but then was too frustrated to figure out where in all our mess of first aid supplies it needed to go. But, thanks to organizing our first aid supplies last week, I knew exactly where it belongs now! So, I was able to quickly deliver this one item to its new home.
A cute little bowl (er… ash tray?) my son made me 5 years ago. I’m the worst with stuff like this. I can’t seem to throw it away. I mean, my son made it as a gift! Gah, emotions. In the meantime, it sits on the counter.
This single use camera that I sent with my daughter on a field trip back in May. Obviously, it’s not been taken in to be developed, and so it sits on my counter.
At first glance, it would seem all these items have nothing in common. But as I sat to prepare this post, it struck me the items on this counter were related:
- They are items that don’t have clear homes… or the homes are inconvenient to get to.
- They are items that represent unfinished tasks… things that need to get done sometime, eventually.
In a way, this counter is a metaphor for the theme of this series, isn’t it? Tackling those little things in our lives. Because sometimes those little things turn out to be bigger things. Cleaning a counter off somehow clears your brain a little bit more. Maybe as you’ve done these tasks, you’ve felt yourself a touch more motivated to tackle other tasks in your life. As I’m thinking about my counter, I’m also thinking a lot about why it is I procrastinate, why I leave little things undone all over my house, why it is I fail to assign homes to items. And of course, I’m trying to ponder these things while still being kind to myself because it’s very easy to thinking such negative things about myself in this process.
So there it is, my lovely cleaned off counter. I pulled out my cookbook stand and a candle and you can actually see our weather station.
It’s funny how I started to write to you about this small task – the cleaning off of a counter – and somehow felt inclined to spend some time talking about how it’s revealed something deeper about my own personal patterns and habits. I surely hope (and trust!) I’m not alone on this. Part of me feels like, “gee Angela, you really need to get it together!” But on the other hand – I know I’m a busy mom of two kids, a wife, a small business owner, and a home owner trying to juggle it all. Yes, in an ideal world maybe there would be no unfinished projects or items without homes.
But maybe it’s OK to acknowledge I’m doing the best I can and darn it, at least I took an hour out of an afternoon to deal with it at all.
I’d love to know your thoughts. How do you find balance between keeping on top of tasks and a tidy home and just living your life? Do you have a cluttered counter or space in your home you’re able to tackle? How come you think that particular space tends to collect clutter? I’d love to hear.