I want my home to be neat, organized, clean, and tidy. I definitely don't want to live in messy, cluttered spaces. In my dreamworld, it's always perfectly clean (okay, let's face it – in dreamworld, I have a full time maid), nothing is ever out of place, and there's not a spec of dust to be found.
However, I'm a reasonable person, and I understand that life happens. There will be crazy days in which the house will be a total disaster, but that should be the exception instead of the norm. We do live in and use our home, so we can't expect it to be magazine worthy.
I'm guessing you feel the same way. So why does the house get out of control more often than I care to admit? The answer may surprise you, but keep reading so I can explain.
I have discovered that (at least for me) the number one enemy of a tidy home is perfectionism. The clean sink challenge has really brought this to light for me. Yes, perfectionism. At first that may seem absurd. Wouldn't a perfectionist have a perfect home? Wouldn't that mean they do every job meticulously and fully? Not necessarily. Let me illustrate:
Do you see that messy counter in the photo above? Here's how the perfectionist would deal with it.
The perfectionist sees the messy counter before heading out the door, and thinks, “I only have five minutes, there's no way I can thoroughly clean all those dishes before I go.” They move on. Finally, they have a chance to tackle it. First, they put the appropriate dishes in the dishwasher. While doing so they notice that somebody has loaded the dishes incorrectly! The bowls are stacked too close together such that they might not get completely clean. Therefore, they have to rearrange the dishes before they can add the new ones. Next they hand wash all the appropriate dishes, carefully inspecting them to make sure that they are completely clean. Then they scrub out the sink, and wipe off all the counters. The whole process took 30 minutes.
The not-so-perfectionist or the recovering perfectionist sees the messy counter before heading out the door, and thinks, “I have five minutes. I can make a lot of progress with this mess.” They immediately open the dishwasher and start adding dirty dishes as fast as they can. There's still a couple minutes left, so they quickly hand wash a few things before they need to leave. When they get home there's just a few dishes left, and it only takes another 5 minutes to complete the job.
The perfectionist tries to wait until just the perfect time to complete the tasks, and then spends a lot more time than necessary. It's far better to do a mundane household chore quickly and get it done rather than waiting until there's enough time to do it thoroughly and so it waits for days.
I have really been learning this principle during the clean sink challenge. I'm usually one of those perfectionists who can't stand it when the bowls in the dishwasher are stacked “too close together.” There, I admitted it! However, I've been determined to get a daily smiley face on my clean sink calendar. Therefore, I've been using little bits of time I have to quickly clean the kitchen, and it's made a huge difference. The kitchen is acceptably clean every morning when I wake up. It's not absolutely perfect – maybe there's a couple items still left out on the counter or once in a while a bowl needs to be washed again, but it's SO much better than waking up to a completely messy kitchen.
Don't get me wrong. I absolutely don't think there's anything wrong with being a perfectionist in and of itself. There are many cases in which it good to be meticulous and careful.
What do you think? Do you tend to let perfectionism slow you down?