We messies seem to have a hard time sticking with one chore. We’ll start out cleaning the kitchen, but then we’ll see laundry that needs to be done, so we’ll go to start the laundry, but then we’ll see some lint to throw away so we’ll go to the trashcan and notice the trash needs to go out. While putting our shoes on, we’ll see that our bed isn’t made. We’ll start making the bed and then realize that we didn’t clean the bathroom yesterday. It goes on and on and at the end of the day we’re exhausted… but nothing got done. There’s a great essay circulating about the “But-First” syndrome. If I can find a link, I’ll post it here later.
We also have trouble focusing outside the home. While we’re on a field trip with the kids, we worry about the dirty dishes. Sometimes we have trouble focusing on fun activities because we feel like we should be working. We feel guilty. But then when we do get home, it seems like we can’t get anything done.
I think we messies need to learn how to focus completely on what we’re doing. That means that if we’re washing the dishes, we stick with washing the dishes until they’re finished. We don’t wander away to referee a fight with the kids… and then end up cleaning the living room. If you have to leave the task for a few minutes, get right back to it. If you’re like most messies, you’ve had too many days where you’ve tried to accomplish everything… but have gotten nothing done.
At the same time, if you always tend to bounce from chore to chore, you could find a way to use that to your advantage. Rather than working on one room a day, you could plan on doing one job in each room… but finish that job before starting the job in the next room. No matter what.
One way to be sure to finish what you start is to write down everything you need to get done today. That way, instead of remembering what you have to do while you’re in the middle of another chore, you have it all written down. If another chore occurs to you, write it down real quick and then get back to what you’re doing.
If you’re out of the house doing something, try your hardest not to worry about the chores you have to do at home. You can’t really do anything about the chores when you’re not home. If you must, write the chores on a list and put the list in your pocket. Let the list worry about it. Sometimes it’s good to get a little bit of a que sera sera attitude… whatever will be will be. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry, it just means you shouldn’t waste your time and emotional energy worrying about the things you can’t control.
Consciously tell yourself “I’m not going to worry about that right now.” Or at least “I’m not going to worry about the next thing until I’m done with this thing.”