The thought of cleaning vs. the act of cleaning vs. having a clean house

February 10, 2012 at 12:10 pm 3 comments

Related to clutter is keeping the house clean overall. And, as with many things, having a clean house makes me feel a lot better, but the thought of actually cleaning it makes me want to crawl under the covers and take a nap.

In addition, the act of cleaning the house usually energizes me, because starting to clean requires me to act more energetic and then moving around does, in fact, give me  a real boost.

Dread. Why do I overthink things to the point where I dread doing them? Like cleaning the house, or thinking through my busy day, or attending an event that will last all day on Saturday, when there is probably 30,000 other things I should be doing instead?

I know that the happier I am, the less I allow dread to get to me. This is the case now: the last few months, I’ve been much less likely to overthink and dread things, because being happier allows me to go with the flow more. But I think it’s also true that not dreading things makes me enjoy them more, which makes me happier.

To get back to the real problem, overthinking something I have to do, like cleaning my house, is an energy drain. I think, actually, that’s what makes the one-minute rule SO effective – not only are you doing something right away, but you’re eliminating having to think about doing it. Just follow the rule! I no longer think “oh I should put that away, should I put that away?” and so on, in what becomes an internal overthinking battle (and I usually just walked away from the little messes). Instead I think “oh putting that away will only take a minute, let me do that now.”

It’s a totally different way of thinking about clutter that eliminates the overthinking. Unfortunately, things like cleaning the house and a busy day at work take longer than a minute, so I need a different strategy for eliminating the dread.

Recently, we had a party at my house for my Grandma’s birthday. This, of course, required me to clean the house, as well as get a number of other things. I didn’t stress too much in advance about cleaning the house though, and I think it’s because I did a couple things.

First, at the start of the week, I thought through the week backwards starting with the party, to find gaps in time where I could clean. So I just made it part of my weekly plan and blocked out that time. So I knew all week, it’s OK that I didn’t have time to clean today, because I have this time on Saturday to do it. I did the same thing with going to the store.

Second, I redirected my thoughts any time I was tempted to start to think about the things I needed to do to get ready for the party. And this was surprisingly effective. Maybe it’s because it was also a busy week at work, but I was able to, very calmly, move my thoughts onto a different topic.

Oh, I also had a lot of help cleaning the house with M, who tackled the kitchen.

The first strategy may not work for everything although it can utilized in different ways. For example, I am doing this all-day training on Saturday, so need to find time to do other things. Thinking through exactly what I need to do vs. what I am imagining what I need to do will help, and then thinking about when I have a gap in time to do those things will make me feel much better.

The second one though is key. Whenever dread or overthinking pops up, redirect. Now, if it’s something major in your life, like dreading your job, there is obviously more to do than stop thinking about it. But for little things, like cleaning, planning and redirecting your thoughts can go along way. And as long as you’re sure it’s the thought of doing it, not actually doing it you are dreading, redirecting is useful. That’s the key with the training. I really want to do it – that’s why I registered and paid for it. The part I was dreading is giving up my entire Saturday, but I am redirecting now 🙂

Like I said, it really is the dread that comes with overthinking that saps my energy. Once I start cleaning or doing whatever else I am dreading, I feel more energetic. And once it’s done, boy do I feel so much better. There is nothing like a freshly cleaned house. I don’t think that means I’m becoming domesticated, I think it’s because it’s something I have control over.

Dreading something is a waste of energy and just too darn bad. I don’t like the idea of spending half my time dreading things I have to do or wanted to do at some point, and the other half doing those things anyway. That seems odd. Now I am off to go to the gym, something I’ve been redirecting my thoughts from while writing this post!


Entry filed under: Sustainable Energy. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Busier, but happier Speaking of Busier but Happier…

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Overthinking at the gym « Undefined Ambition  |  February 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    […] other day, I wrote about my tendency to sometimes overthink tasks I have to do, such as cleaning the house, so that I come to dread those tasks. There is another place I tend to overthink, which zaps my […]

  • 2. A new take on cleaning « Undefined Ambition  |  February 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    […] house and the fact that we’re – like most people – busy. As might be guessed from this post, I did not take their advice. I really felt that if I was going to clean, I might as well do it all […]

  • 3. February Wrap Up « Undefined Ambition  |  February 29, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    […] Plan as much as you can, and then redirect any thoughts that will stress you out. […]


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