Friday, March 6, 2009

Control Journal: Baby Steps

Aren't some things in life just so daunting that you don't want to think about them? You unconsciously procrastinate until you think the timing will be just right before tackling it. Maybe you need more time or you don't want any distractions or you don't have all of the necessary supplies or ... you can fill in the blank. This pretty much sums up the largest stumbling block that I've run across. A procrastinating perfectionist can be their own worst enemy.

But what to do about this? First of all, simply taking yourself out of denial is a great start. It wasn't until Marla Ciley, the FlyLady, put a name on this character trait that I could even single out what caused me to drag my feet in certain areas of life. This was a big ah-ha moment for me. FlyLady's advice is simple: baby steps. Just taking one small step one day at a time in each of the areas that you need to work on will get you so much further than either whining, procrastinating, or ignoring the scenario at hand.

Here's an example for you in the housekeeping department: I hate to clean my vinyl flooring. With a passion. It's just plain detestible in my book. Therefore, it doesn't get done. Oh the floors get vaccuumed and the worst of spills cleaned up, but they dont' get scrubbed and we have a lot of traffic in our home. When I do tackle the job out of desperation, I end up with a sore back, aching arms, and a good portion of the day used up. Here's where baby steps come in. Marla talks about a tile shower that she had procrastinated cleaning and just could not bring herself to tackle. Her mantra is that you can do anything for five minutes. So she spent five minutes tackling just one square of that shower tile and grout. Then she was done for the day. The next day she took on another square and so forth until the shower was cleaned. Sounds silly but I took that advice and started on my vinyl floors. The first day I cleaned just one row of the pattern. Yes, just one row, and after a few minutes of really doing a detailed job cleaning it, it was done. It was a sparkling reminder of what the floor could and should look like. The next day, I tackled another row. As the week went on, the bathroom vinyl was just about done. For an investment of just a few minutes a day, I had impressive results.

After that experiment, I was hooked. I took a look at those housekeeping tasks that I perpetually put off and put them down on paper. My list included cleaning the kitchen cabinet doors, scrubbing three bathrooms, a mudroom hall way and a laundry room with vinyl flooring, and keeping the cabinets and drawers in the rest of the home organized and cleaned. Since then I've added doors and trim throughout the house. Every weekday I wipe down just one kitchen cabinet door. Takes maybe 20 seconds. I clean one row of vinyl flooring starting in a particular room. Then I move on to picking a room in the house to work through that needs cabinets wiped down or drawers purged/cleaned. After completing one complete cycle through the house in a few months, those areas were cleaner than ever before and there was no drugery involved. The bonus is that they stayed cleaner and were a cinch to clean the next time around. I now clean a set of cabinet doors or a larger section of the floor because it just takes no time at all.

There is so much to be said about tackling things in baby steps as they pertain to at-home jobs, hobbies, personal growth, and so on. I know I've just scratched the surface of how the power of this approach can affect all areas of our lives. If you have ever experienced success in surmounting something that just looked too big to deal with by tackling it one step at a time, I'd love to hear your story as well. Leave me a comment below.

Until then, remember ... one baby step for you, one giant leap for your life.

Related Posts:

Control Journal: Fifteen Minutes of Focus
Control Journal: Routines

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