I have discovered a rather profound lesson about the art of cleaning.
For those of you who don’t know, I have a real problem with keeping my apartment clean. It is a source of continuous embarrassment for me; I could write an entire book about why it’s so hard for me to organize my apartment. Basically, I accept the fact that as a writer and creative person, I will never maintain a perfectly clean house. My goals are much more modest. I simply want to be able to see the carpet once in a while!
Honestly, I love cleaning up; I just allow myself the joy of cleaning on rare occasions; on the other hand, living in a dump can take its toll; you lose things (I still can’t find my right sneaker); you are annoyed by the fact you can’t walk without obstacle.
I have noticed that breaking a large task into smaller tasks can mitigate the problem somewhat. It also provides a sense of accomplishment. If I set aside an afternoon to cleaning up an apartment, I usually get sidetracked by something I discover while cleaning (which I would describe as an “edge task).”
What I need to do is choose very small tasks (i.e., clean the computer area, clean the bathroom, clean the living room, etc) and do only that. Yes, it sounds obvious, but the problem with that plan has always been the interconnectedness of my mess. This paper by my computer is a bill which means I need to organize my bill files, which means I need to search around my bar to look for other bills, etc.
Now I’m going to try another strategy. Clean everything in a designated space, and anything that requires action in another part of the apartment will instead be placed on a “to do” pile right near the space I was currently working on. This could backfire. My cleaning sweeps could become more superficial and grow less effective over time. Let’s see.