Yesterday, upon walking into my house, I wailed to Philip: "My life is spiralling out of control!" He very patiently inquired why I felt this way, and after a few minutes we narrowed it down to two basic problems. First, my financial situation remains precarious: I make enough money to pay my bills, on a good week. On a very good week, I make enough money to also buy groceries instead of putting them on my credit card (which further increases the bills to be paid, sigh.) Second, my house and car are disastrously untidy. I haven't fully unpacked yet, and the accumulated detritus of about four long road trips, plus months of not-really-cleaning-out-much before that, makes the back seat of my car an exciting archaeological site. Dan and I both have a laid-back attitude toward dishwashing, and an apparent preference for washing heaps and heaps at a time rather than tidying up after every meal (or, er, every day.)
Wow, I am not making myself sound good here. Ahem. Anyway, after yesterday's mini-meltdown, I have developed a plan.
The problem, you see, is that both of these situations (messiness and financial precariousness) are accumulating evils. Laundry and dishes pile up with the same persistence as bills and debt, and have a tendency to snowball as they become more and more overwhelming. What I tend to look for is a single, large-scale fix: one huge deposit to make my account balances look prettier! One massive cleanup to make my whole space tidy again! Problem is, these things don't seem to be forthcoming. The job that I hoped would help beautify the bank account fell through, and the gumption for one massive cleanup is something I can rarely muster (and only with much prodding.)
So, we're trying a different approach. Baby steps. Just do enough to stay ahead of the pile and whittle away at it slowly. It's not the pleasantest approach for me, who likes to see big sweeping improvements, but it has the advantage of being practicable.
The new policy is as follows:
- Work at least 45 hours a week. Right now I have actual jobs totalling 24-32 hours a week. I have plans for bringing in extra money, to loosen the belt a little, but all of them depend on a fair bit of preliminary work without compensation. I am going to diligently log my hours at this work, and make sure I am putting in at least a regular week's total of working hours.
- Spend at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, on cleaning and household chores. This is really not a lot. I just need to keep telling myself that. The good news is we have a teeny apartment and if I actually stick to this plan, even factoring in the recurring housework like laundry and dishes, I should make quite decent progress on the backlog.
- Write my work totals in my dayplanner. Accountability is a good thing.
- Post weekly updates to this blog. Public accountability is even better.
- ▼ 2009 (12)