Getting Back on Track

When I started my Konmari Journey to Decluttering and Minimalism, I didn’t set out to finish in any particular time frame, but my first round, what I call my “pre-Konmari”, took about 6 weeks. I went through my clothing, CDs/DVDs, books, paper and the kitchen (which I think is one komono category with about a million subcategories). Then something happened and I got a little off track.

After some time passed, I picked it back up and kept trucking with a goal of completing the process by our vacation in October, only to be sidetracked by summer. Baseball, racing, camping. You name it, I was distracted by it. I was really in no hurry to complete because I really didn’t need to be.

Then late this summer I joined a challenge on Facebook to complete the Konmari process by Labor Day – always a sucker for a challenge, I accepted. I evaluated what still needed to be completed, learned I didn’t have as much left to complete as I thought, planned it out on a calendar, and set to work making it happen. Come Labor Day, I considered myself a Konmari Graduate! It felt amazing to be done. We went camping a few times after this and came home to a spotless house. It was so great.

Then October struck and we went on vacation. I tried to make sure I had everything done before I left, but I didn’t (there was still unfolded laundry littering my dining room table and some clutter had popped up here and there as we packed and prepped). After we returned, we didn’t unpack in a timely manner so we added half unpacked luggage, plus the unfolded laundry we washed as soon as we returned home, to the laundry that remained from before we left. Add to that detritus from too many nights of take out and 10 days worth of untouched mail, and you have what I call a disaster. My anxiety was mounting!

After a week and a half of doing no chores and having no routine, it was very hard to get back on track and maintain our Konmari graduate status. But we’re now one week post-return home and things are getting back in place. After spending a weekend and 3 weekdays looking at the mess we’d created, I buckled down and tackled the job before it became insurmountable. How?

Lists.

I made lists. I am an amateur Bullet Journaler (still not entirely sure this is the perfect method for me) and used that system to make my list. I thought I’d ease in by doing the biggest project first – folding laundry.

Wednesday night: fold laundry (didn’t happen – but a bunch of other stuff did).
Thursday: fold laundry (didn’t happen, but more other stuff did).
Friday: fold laundry (who am I kidding??)
Saturday: Get groceries, Birthday party, etc.
Sunday: Clean the house!!! (and fold laundry – for real this time).

Throughout the rest of that week, I cleared the counters again, cleared the launch pad in the living room (I’ll write a post about the importance of a launch pad someday, but in the mean time, you can learn about one here), put away the blankets (those things migrate and take over our living room!), cleared the coffee table, got the kids to put their toys away, cleaned their rooms, and got my sink shiny again, etc. This weekend, I focused on vacuuming, catching up on laundry, and made time to wash all the curtains in our house (some were looking pretty dusty), and took the kids to the farm to chill with their grandparents. I even folded and put all but one basket of laundry – it was still drying so I have an excuse. Yay me!

Prior to the list, I could see all the things that needed to be done, but I didn’t know where to start. Creating a list of all the things I needed to do helped. I was able to take that first thing on the list, focus on it, and knock it out. Then I moved onto the second item. And so on, on down the line, until the list was complete.

Additionally, I always put the machines to work first. I always start the washer and dishwasher before I do any kind of cleaning. I can’t even get started on any task until the dishes and laundry are going. Stop by my house on any given day and you’ll see me wandering around aimlessly until I get those two machines taken care of. I physically have to start a load of laundry and must have a cleaned out sink (clear of all dirty dishes) before I can start dinner. It borders on OCD, actually. It’s really a no-brainer if you think about it. By starting the washer and dishwasher first, you’ve already tackled a large part of the cleaning up process in most homes – you’ve collected all the dirty laundry and all the dirty dishes and taken care of them. Boom. Two tasks (maybe 4 depending on how you make your list) done, before you’ve even started cleaning!

As you move along through your decluttering categories, ideally you’ll find a way to go from start to finish without stopping, but that’s not how life works. If you should find yourself getting sidetracked or backpedaling and aren’t sure how to get back on track, start by putting your machines to work first and making a list. It works for me every single time.

But beyond all this, it’s important to give yourself a break. Rome wasn’t built in a day and getting caught back up with the house chores likely won’t be done in a day, either. It’s  more important to spend time with your husband and children or hang out with family and friends than it is to have that perfectly spotless magazine ready home. So, do what you can, but make time for bonding, fun and relaxation too. You’ll get it done eventually.

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