Some women are amazing mess-tacklers. They can rush into the center of a home disaster or an organizational nightmare and whip it into shape with incredible zeal and focus.
Me? Not so much.
It’s not that I’m incapable of cleaning well or that I have no organizational skills. I can do the one and I sometimes actually enjoy the other, but the truth is, I can be pretty ADD about both.
Cleaning clutter from the countertop leads me to a broken toy I’ve been meaning to fix for 3 weeks which leads me to the junk drawer in search of glue where I find the batteries I meant to put in the flashlight. Where did I leave the flashlight? Oh, yeah, it’s on the kitchen table where there’s a pile of clean laundry I need to fold, which reminds me I never put that load of towels in the dryer! On my way to the dryer I step over the bag of kitty litter which draws my attention to the cat box in the corner that reeeeally needs changing. But, wait a minute! Did I return that audio book I borrowed from a friend? Suddenly I’m organizing a stack of CDs in search of it. But I should probably put the audio book with my purse this very minute because I’ll see that friend tomorrow! Next thing I know I’m going through a stack of crumpled receipts from my purse…
And on and on it goes.
I’m well-intentioned, but easily distracted. I’m accomplishing things, but in tiny, almost imperceptible bits that amount to so little it never looks like I’m accomplishing anything! And when I’m faced with one of those BIG projects like out-of-control clutter or a disastrous closet, it’s easy to be so overwhelmed that, while I will stop and look at it from time to time, I always walk hopelessly away because I have no clue in the world where to start!
But I’ve learned a little something that has helped me a lot as an ADD housewife! Tackling a mess in quick, measured spurts helps keep me from getting distracted and prevents me from being so overwhelmed. All I have to do is count to 13!
I read this suggestion years ago in a magazine and though I know it may not work for everyone, for me sometimes the Trick of 13 is a tremendous help! I use it ALL THE TIME! When there’s a pile of clutter or an organizational project I find overwhelming, it helps me to start with cleaning out or putting away just 13 things.
*There’s a pile of paperwork on the counter and finding a place for all of it will take forever! Fine. I’ll sort just 13 things…
*The laundry desperately needs to be folded, but there’s so much of it! But no problem! I’ll simply fold and put away 13 like items, like towels and washcloths or one child’s t-shirts and pants…
*After a busy weekend my bedroom is a wreck and cleaning it all will take more time than I have right now. That’s okay. I’ll start small and put away just 13 things…
It sounds insignificant. And it is! But when I’m setting small goals for myself it seems to be easier for me to stay on task. I’m only having to focus for a count of 13. That’s all!
It also helps me not to look at projects as never-ending. Again, I’m only counting to 13 and then I’m done, at least for the moment. I may return to that same project throughout the day, but only in sets of 13, so the weight of the project never becomes too burdensome.
It also helps me better recognize the things that most need doing! When I’m picking up just 13 things in a particularly messy room, I automatically, almost without thought focus on the larger, more noticeable things. In a quick clean-up of my family room, for example, I’m most likely to focus on big things scattered about like throw pillows and blankets and larger toys and focusing there can make it look like I’ve accomplished a lot, even though I’ve only picked up 13 things! The next time I come through I may be able to get the next 13 most noticeable things, like the flip flops under the end table, the random Hot Wheels by the door, the cup in the corner, or the scraps of paper behind the recliner.
Now you may be wondering…do I always clean and organize this way? No. Sometimes I like to tackle something and not let up again until it’s completely finished. And obviously dusting, toilet scrubbing, and vacuuming don’t work this way either. But for picking up and general clutter control, which are the biggest, most dreaded, most time-consuming challenges in my home, I’ve found this little idea to be very helpful.
I’m as ADD a housewife as they come, but even I can count to 13 without much distraction.
Speaking of which…the pictures in this post are all from my home. Obviously the Trick of 13 needs to be implemented around here some more. Time to start counting…