On a scale from zero to five, where zero is something along the lines of ‘there is no hope, just burn the place, run for your lives, aliens have taken over’, and five is more like ‘omg, this is amazing, I wish I could move in with you’. That’s how I approached this Summer when it came to cleaning and tidying up my apartment.
tl;dr A blog post about how baby steps can lead to bigger seemingly impossible tasks to become achievable. So.. I cleaned my apartment.
A bit unfair, I know, it can’t be zero, it’s never that terrible. So it’s at least a one or a two: The state you’re just unhappy with, slightly embarrassed to invite people over for an evening. I am sure everybody’s been there at least a couple of times. Maybe it’s a solid two, but it felt like my place was a one on that scale. In other words: I had some work to do. And yeah, a bit unfair to have five on the list. There’s not an unlimited budget to make it that beautiful. I guess I am aiming to a four, and settle for a score of three.
Sorry to confuse you. But let’s say I fall behind on cleaning the place, on tidying up, on throwing things out, on fixing stuff up, etc. I was being a man, a bachelor, and besides that, shaky eyes that result in headaches .. really do not motivate me to spend hours on making it shine. But, it was time to be responsible, push through, make it work, and turn that feeling of my place making me feel a tad unhappy to something more comfortable and inviting to others.
August, day one. A paper with a plan on it, bigger goals, split into smaller tasks. Things that are easier to do. Another paper. Tasks ordered in a way that they make sense. A small example. Start the washing machine, clean the floor. Why would I clean the floor first, then do washing, then having to wait, and finish the washing up. Some things are just sorta logical.
Baby steps, early mornings, extra effort, ignoring shaky eyes and how I feel at the end of the day. Ignoring social life so I know I am clear headed and fresh the next morning. A start was made, and it felt like it was impossible to finish it all within a month. And yes, I know others do this daily, and perhaps even within hours. But this is my life, it’s different, and comes with its own challenges. I don’t judge yours either.
Bigger steps, days pass, the right cleaning equipment was invested in, stock of stuff was topped up, and a start was made. I felt confident about a routine that would not just pay off this month, but hopefully in the long run as well.
The idea to make the worst go away first. Then to make it visually appealing. And to finally tweak it so I know I am not ‘cheating’ my way to tidying up.
After the first week I had a routine, and I know what worked and didn’t work. I rewarded myself with a few days of hanging out in Amsterdam, working on my writing at Starbucks for example. Or going for a lunch with a friend to share an idea for next year. Then a big long snooze in the late evening, so I could start fresh and very early the next morning. The next week.
The stress and anxiety of it being impossible has gone away. Why? Because having a bigger list with what appears to be impossible tasks that was split up in baby steps tasks was showing progress. And then when I would enter my place I visually noticed progress. It’s working. For what I can do, and I was finding motivation to finish the baby step tasks and turn that feeling of the score of one to be more like a solid two. And that mentally made it feel like this: ‘If this week goes the same, that means one step from a two to a three is actually a huge step’. And week three flew by. Move hours, more resting, more double downing and getting things done.
In the mean time I kept progress, talked it through with a few friends, and made some slight adjustments to my paper with the plan based on two weeks of reality. No need to fool myself. A third paper slowly filled up with what I would need to push to September, or the future. Things that require saving up money to buy, stuff that needs more time to get fixed, or situations that demand more attention that I just won’t get to in August. Simply being able to have it organised in my mind means to me that I have less anxiety about my place, and can focus in September and the months after on other things from my list of things that cause stress.
The last week felt like I had to make choices. I just don’t have the time for this room, give up on it, triple down on it? And so these papers were copied and cleaned up, organised and this time a timeframe for the last nine days forced me to focus and get stuff done. I now knew what I had to do to finish my score from a two to a three. And then let this all go and pick it up in September again. Where I have more time for the last handful of bigger steps items. Making that three into a three and a half at least. And then October where I should have a tiny bit of a budget to buy some stuff to get things fixed and maybe end up with a score of a four. Even if it’s a weak four.
It’s September now. And I decided to be so silly and write a blog post about me tidying up and cleaning my apartment. Not because I want to brag that I’ve actually manned up and made some changes for the better. But to make a point that despite my limitations and probably because I am a single guy and a bit lazy… that if I put my mind to it, put my foot down. Make a plan and progress daily (see this blog post about that: https://mrfloris.com/article/2971/development-towards-an-improved-or-more-advanced-condition/) that it is simply possible to make steps forward that fight my stress levels, beat the fears that anxiety gives me, and makes me overall more happy.
Be it saving up for a new computer (see this blog post, since we’re linking to stuff now: https://mrfloris.com/article/2956/saving-up-for-a-new-computer-3/) or cleaning up my embarrassing apartment. To starting a project ten years ago and finally sitting down to make it something awesome. Even if it gives me anxiety (or you for that matter), if you’re pulled out of your comfort zone, or just because it feels like it’s impossible. It really doesn’t have to be.
A couple of things I’ve learned the last decade of my life is that it’s the little things in life that can make me happy. But what I never realised is that a handful of little things make up something bigger. And suddenly that big thing can be achieved. A little bit of awareness about the time you have available, with a plan, is what could make you move forward. Even if it is ever so slightly.
If a few little things can make a difference now, they can make a difference long term. In this example, a cleaner apartment, a new computer, now they are the baby steps to bigger things in 2017.
And if you guys know me, you know I am fighting being positive at times. That’s why this stuff matters to me. Feeling more happy inside and seeing results, makes it worth it, gives hope, motivates me, creates results, makes me want to take steps forward. Yeah, it’s not really about cleaning my apartment, or saving up for a computer. All big things are little things eventually.