Bird by bird

A diagram to illustrate the calculation of Vol...

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This is the name of a book by Anne Lamott, which I would really recommend reading.  I would loan you my copy, if I could find it, but I think it’s in one of the boxes in the garage.  You’ll be the first to know when I find it, I promise.  The sad thing is that I have given up taking my poor books out of their boxes and putting them on bookshelves.  We have empty shelf space but my reasoning, specious though it is, is that the next time we move, which should be by the end of June or July, I’ll just have to put them back into new boxes, the old boxes having deteriorated with time and moisture.

Anyway, bird by bird it is.  Sometimes, an idea or image is so strong that it flows (or should I say flies)  into other parts of my life.  Take my house.  Please.  I spend a lot of time cleaning and even more time thinking about cleaning.  I know, if I could just take all that time and simply clean, I would probably be better off, but I don’t want to.  I am always looking for that one perfect system of housecleaning.  So how do I clean my house?  Bird by bird.  Scrap by scrap.  Inch by inch.

Here are my favorite zone techniques for cleaning:

  • the zone defense–pick a room, start cleaning
  • temporal zone–hate cleaning? set the timer, clean for half an hour and then do something you want to do
  • numerical zone–combines my love of numbers and the zone–go into a room, get rid of or put away x number of things, then move on–or, ask yourself, how many things would you have to put away before you would let other people see this room?
  • alternate stimuli–this is my absolute favorite.  It combines a temporal limitation with listening to music.  I put my music on, I clean the house.  When the album is done, so am I.   This works best when Skip and Tad are not at home.  Hope the neighbors like the music.

Now, my bit of good news is that I used a combination of these techniques (numbers + music) to declutter the downstairs family room.  Everyone goes there–no one picks it up.  It’s easier when no one is around.  I put the music on, I asked myself how many things would I have to put away before I would let other people see this room.  Result–a clean family room, at least 100 things (papers sorted, laundry folded), and something about the plain vinyl wallpaper makes me wonder if anyone outside of our family will ever see this room.  We didn’t choose the paper!  We don’t have a lease!  We can’t fix it!

The only other thing I think I need to do is to vacuum and dust–but now that all those surfaces are available, it will be so easy!

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About sma11fish

small fish in a big pond
This entry was posted in cleaning, declutter, organization, urban living and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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