Clear one drawer a day

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Pick a shelf, a drawer, a cupboard, or a desk top. Sort through it, throw out what you do not need, group things in a logical manner. Step back, survey the fruits of your labour and take a deep breath. Now there is one less obstacle in your everyday life. Pick another one tomorrow.

I don’t mind cooking or doing dishes, yet I dislike cleaning. Growing up, my cousins and I used to clean my Grandma’s three-room apartment every three days: dusting, vacuuming, washing floors. This was the most boring, repetitive and thankless activity, when all I wanted to do was to sit in the fresh air on the balcony and lose myself in a good book. Thus cleaning is one of the things I am known to procrastinate.

Cleaning is easy when all you have is a sofa, a coffee table, a lamp, and a strategically placed tall floor vase to accentuate the tumble weeds flowing across the otherwise empty room, in a modern d├ęcor setting. When you have children, plants, pets, books, toys, and all the resulting mess covering horizontal surfaces in an abstract painting style, you can rarely find the floor, let alone clean it. Thus the first step to cleaning is tidying up. This I do not mind doing, yet once things are out of sight they are out of mind, and it’s our drawers and cupboards that harbour most surprising collections of items.

Don’t you hate it when it takes you an inordinate amount of time to find what you are looking for, and then you have to dislodge half the cupboard to actually extract the object? Then you are staring at all the wonderfully useful but completely disorganized things that blocked your way, and thinking: why on Earth are they not somewhere more logical? Well, I got tired shuffling around baby cups (my son has not used them for at least two years) to reach saucers in my kitchen cupboard (which we use a few times a week). And I remembered the wise adage of “clear one drawer a day”.

We often make such a mountain out of starting any endeavour, as we expect it to be long and arduous. Fifteen minutes later I was staring at my cleared cupboard (the whole three shelves! – I went all-out), and thinking: is this what I have been putting off for months, while wasting time and energy cursing at things toppling out every time I extracted a saucer? That was silly!

The baby decided the time for playing quietly was over, and so my cleaning deed for the day was done. If I had a chance to harness the high of the achievement, I would have cleared another cupboard. Today I have spent ten minutes reorganizing the neighbouring cupboard, and I now can easily find each item in it: things I need more frequently are closer, everything is grouped by use, and I have extra space. It feels like I can breathe easier in the kitchen, even with the cupboard doors closed. Curious how we create this energy-sucking clutter when it takes so little time to set things straight.

Don’t allow the clutter to accumulate. Spend 10-15 minutes a day to keep your physical and mental space free of obstacles.

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