Big jobs discourage me before I even start them.
By nature, I am a procrastinator. It’s so tempting to make the present moment easier by putting off chores and other stuff I’m supposed to do. I try to fight this tendency, because procrastinating only pretends to make life easier — in reality, it adds more stress than it’s worth.
My consistency leaves a good deal to be desired. One area where I struggle, enjoying great success one week and abject failure the next, is that portion of my kitchen that stands 35.75 inches above the floor: namely, the countertops. Well, and the sink, too. It is much too easy to leave the pots and pans next to the sink “just for a little while” and have them still sitting there, petrified mashed potato or soup residue stuck to the insides, two days later. Meanwhile I can’t work at the counter where the pans sit, so I crowd my next mixing or baking activity into the space between the rice canister and the bag of canned groceries that I neglected to put away yesterday.
Cookie sheets are the worst. They take up more than their fair share of acreage, and have to be moved from counter to stove to bar to breakfast table and then back to the counter, as I need my dwindling work space for other things. Sheesh, why do I put up with that instead of just washing the blasted things and putting them away? It’s just that by the time I finish mixing, shaping and baking five or six dozen cookies, I’m out of patience and energy and ready to march right out of that kitchen.
Ah, but sometimes I just roll up my sleeves and start washing. Going into “Energizer bunny” mode, I keep going and going until I finally get the last dish washed and set out to dry. It’s a lot of work, but after I have gotten thoroughly tired of all that mess, can’t you picture how beautiful a clear counter looks?
By now you’re probably thinking, Sheesh, this lady needs to get out more. Well, even going out is no fun when I know I will come home to a chaotic, depressing kitchen. A clean countertop both relaxes and inspires me. It takes me out of a drudgery / survival mindset, allowing me to actually enjoy cooking and other projects. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some way to have the kitchen counters clean every day, with less effort?
Well, of course there is! It’s a technique called “Clean Up As You Go,” and I started using it in self-defense as my Thanksgiving and Christmas and Kids-Coming-Home cooking threatened to become overwhelming. It’s pretty simple. Use a bowl to mix batter? As soon as it is empty, I just wash it. Once the first cookie sheet is cooled and the cookies removed, I wash that cookie sheet while the next one is still in the oven. As the last cookies bake, I put the mixer away and wipe the countertop. By the time the cookies are done, so is my work. Well, just about. Anyway, I can see the countertops.
I have noticed the same thing in other areas of life. It is way easier to keep up than to catch up. Whether it’s at work or study, life is smoother and more pleasant if I stay on top of things.
The same goes for my relationships with other people and with God. If I need to apologize or set something right, the time to do it is “right now.” Being around someone with an unreconciled offense hanging between us is as awkward as trying to cook around a pile of dirty dishes. It may seem hard in the moment, but as near as I can figure, keeping that promise or apologizing for that wrong actually improves my life, which procrastination promises but never gets around to doing.
Here’s to clear countertops and clear consciences, my double simple pleasure for the day. Today (Wednesday) I am linking up with Dayle at Simple Pleasures, where I always get a breath of fresh air.
On Tuesday I linked up with Jen and my Soli Deo Gloria friends over at Finding Heaven.
Thanks for reading!