One of the perks of teaching is the break between quarters. In about a week, I’ll get some much needed time off. However, I am determined not to completely waste this time, as I did the last break, and the break before that. I realized that the problem with the last two breaks was not having a plan. As a teacher, I have to plan and plan and plan, and when I’m done planning, I like to sit on the couch and binge-watch something. While I still plan to do that during this break, it’s not the only thing I want to do.
There are a million things I can think of to do, and I have a tendency to want to do them all at one time. Anything less would be a failure. I get really psyched about a project, like cleaning out the garage, only to find myself in a state of despair an hour after I start, looking at the virtually unchanged mess in front of me, wondering why I even bothered. I decide to start on another project and in no time at all, I’ve got exactly squat accomplished.
So heading into the break, I know two things. First, I need a list. I need to select a few of the things I want to do and that have a reasonable chance of being accomplished in the time that I have, write them down, and stick with them. Second, this house has hit critical mass. I’m a little torn about this. I think with a little more space, everything would be fine. We’re not exactly hoarders. (Well, I’m not. I’m not sure about the other two residents.) However, this house with its three bedrooms, two-and-a-quarter baths, two living areas and dining room, isn’t that small either. In any event, none of the little projects or updates or even deep cleaning I’m always thinking about can get done without first freeing up some space. I stacked some Goodwill-bound boxes in the hall so long ago that they think they’re furniture, but I know that there’s much more that needs to go and I really only want to go once.
Two weeks ago, I decided I would need to make a list of cleaning projects and set a date to donate. Of course, I couldn’t just sit down and write a list, so as the idea marinated in my brain, I wound up at the library borrowing The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the Japanese self-help manual that encourages people to de-hoarde by holding all their possessions to see if they “spark joy.”
The idea that possessions can spark joy certainly sounds looney tunes, but when something like this plants itself so firmly in pop culture that my favorite shows and comedians are joking about it, curiosity kills the cat. In that vein, I’m sort-of enjoying this book. Kondo has some cogent ideas. Her insistence to clean by category and not room, and all at once, are ideas I can support. Unfortunately, the advice to thank your possessions for their service to you is just bizarre enough for me to understand. I’m sure that my spatula doesn’t need to be thanked, but I get the idea of me needing to thank it. It’s part of the thought process that one has to go through to get rid of things, and the idea of letting yourself have those thoughts, whether in your head or, if absolutely necessary, out loud, in order to let go of them seems perfectly reasonable to me.
I don’t know that I can completely declutter in the time I have. She doesn’t recommend that. But the goals of the book add some direction to my burgeoning list, and more importantly, have me excited to get to work. I’m also a little nervous, but anytime I have been really brutal with a particular space, keeping only what I need, I’ve been happier and the order has lasted longer.
Below is the aforementioned list of things I want to do, in addition to the stuff I have to do, like watch my kid, and the stuff I want to do, like cooking and exercising. This list is still in beta. I still have to teach one day next week and turn in grades, so the quarter isn’t done yet and my break hasn’t officially started. In other words, there’s still time.
3-week meal plan
Write quarterly Sonja update
Take Sonja to the doctor for quarterly height-weight check; take myself for triptan reup.
Read, read, read. Also, binge-watch, binge-watch, binge-watch.
Writing other than for this blog.
Declutter clothes, books and, if time, the miscellaneous category as described by Kondo.
Clean the garage on a weekend with Shaun. (This doesn’t fit the KonMari method in that it’s cleaning by room, but it really can’t be ignored any longer.)
Organize all digital photos by year and make new back-up discs.
Declutter computer work files.
Trip to Goodwill.
Trip to county dump.