I’ve discovered the secret to keeping dirty dishes from multiplying in our kitchen sink: empty the dish drainer.
(If we had a dishwasher, the secret would be emptying the dishwasher.)
So much of the clutter and disorganization around us is a result of multi-step tasks being half done. In her book It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys, Marilyn Paul describes the cycle of “getting to ready”:
“It is the rhythm of taking action, creating the natural disorder that comes with taking action, restoring order with helpful habits and useful systems, and thus returning to readiness for action.”
For example, the trash can is full. So you take action! You pull the trash bag out of the can and take it outside. Do you stop there? NO! When you come back inside, you put a new bag in the can. Otherwise, either 1.) people will throw trash in the empty can, or 2.) trash will collect on the counter until the bag is replaced. Either way, it’s gross.
I’m sure you can think of other instances where the failure of “getting to ready” only complicates your life:
Laundry: Clothes are dirty, so you wash them. Then you dry them. If you stop there, you’re not ready! You must put the clothes away before you are ready to get dressed. Otherwise you have a bunch of wrinkled clothes in the dryer that you now have to hunt through and then spend time ironing.
Your desk: You’re busy and productive and at the end of the day, your desk is understandably untidy. In order to be ready for the next day, it’s important to take a few moments before you go home to put everything away so you can start a new day with a clean desk.
And (my favorite)…
The Dishes: You cook. You eat. The dishes get dirty. If you stop there, it’s just harder to wash them later. And it’s hard to cook and eat the next meal when all the dishes are dirty. (I know of which I speak.) So you clean the dishes. But don’t stop there! If the dish drainer or dishwasher is full of nice clean dishes, it’s still impossible to wash the next batch. So you put the clean dishes away as soon as they are dry. Then you are ready.
And being ready really relieves stress. Be nice to yourself and start building the habit of getting yourself to ready. Start with one area and see what a difference it makes.