Monday, November 23, 2009

Messy Monday: Cleaning for Company

There's spring cleaning and fall cleaning, and then there's a whole 'nother league--cleaning for company. That's when things really go into overdrive around here. Gusto would be the word that would best describe the vigor with which I scrub, wipe, polish, put away, and generally tackle all the areas that have been pining away for my undivided attention.

It took a weekend of organizing our basement and at least three days of focused, fairly high exertion work before I felt like our guests could walk through the door without me cringing inside (not at the sight of them but at the sight of my home, in case that wasn't clear! :)) 

Why do things get this way? The honest truth is because we're busy. It feels easier and quicker (in the short-term) to plop a pile of outgrown clothes in the guest room to be packed away in the right storage tub later than to do the job right, right then. 

As I was putting away papers and piles (not just transferring them but actually dealing with them) last week, I realized piles would be prevented if I always and immediately put everything where it was supposed to be. Instead, I set something down to put away later. But really I'm just laying it in its grave, because it will stay there until I resurrect it--usually right before the next batch of company comes.

So my Messy Monday tip for today is when you feel like you're short on time, so you're just going to plop this _____ (fill in the blank with any object of your choice) down for a few seconds/days/weeks/months until you can deal with a few seconds/days/weeks/months/years later, take a few more seconds to put it where it really should go. Saving yourself some time immediately by laying something down to deal with later always backfires. You'll still have to deal with it. Now or later. Putting it away later will still take as much time as it would had you put it away right away. Actually, it will probably take longer later, because its friends will gather too.

If you don't mind a massive frenzy of cleaning and organizing before company arrives (after all, you may thrive off it!), then don't waste time in the short run putting away things right away, all the way. Save it for later. But the mercy I found from this experience is:

You'll enjoy the lead up to company so much more if you don't have to spend so much time calling forth piles from their graves and sending them to their proper places where they can truly rest in peace. You'll have more peace, too, when you don't see unfinished projects and piles standing in the way of a relatively tidy home. If you're with me on this, when you're tempted to just set something down, even just for a second, tell that little voice in your head you better not let it leave your hand until it's where it should go...because otherwise, it will never really make its way to its rightful home until company comes again.

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