Just a few hours to good

My time logs show that I have spent several hours over the past week cleaning up. We had exterior house photos taken last week (including with a drone…) and now we have interior photos this week. Given that we are living in the house, this is a bit of a project. Among the parts of the project I did last night: taping together poster board that I could then shove under my in-process 1000-piece puzzle, so it can be moved off the dining room table.

But, as it turns out, this has not been quite as lengthy a project as one might imagine. True, I had the kids put many toys, books, etc. in plastic storage bins that can either be shoved aside for photos, or put in the attic (or in the garage at the new place) for the sale process. We dumped obvious trash, but we certainly could have culled a lot more than we did. The aim here was a quick and serviceable job. I employed the same process in my office.

The result: see the photo above. Now, to be sure, this office scene is fiction. To record my podcasts, I have to reconstruct my sound wall and drape blankets everywhere — something that is going to make the desk look cluttered no matter how clean it is. Also, you’ll note: no waste basket. This is one of the funniest aspects of staged photos. There are never things like that (or, say, shampoo in the shower) that you’d obviously need to have there.

On the other hand, getting to this pristine state only took a few hours. I would estimate we have put in about 20 household hours, all told. It’s curious to think that all this time we were only a few focused hours away from a pretty cleaned up house. My daughter’s room in particular was a disaster of plastic Barbie pieces, American Girl flotsam, and tiny erasers shaped like food (don’t ask). I put in two solid hours and it now looks shockingly decent. We’ll see if the photographer agrees, but hey.

I suppose there is a lesson here for other big projects. Sometimes things seem daunting. But it may be fewer hours to “done” than you realize. People who do National Novel Writing Month (write a 50,000-word draft in November) often write for about 2 hours per day. Maybe 3. That’s 60-90 hours to a book draft. A lot, but not infinite. Doable, with a focused push.

In other news: I am currently looking out the window in this photo, watching my husband throw grass seed on the back lawn. There are a few bare patches, especially from where we removed the old swing set that was destroyed in the derecho of June 2020. Every time he throws seed, it rains — and the storm is more intense than the sprinkle the weather forecast called for. I think this is attempt number five. Seeding the lawn has become his own white whale.

Our daughter officially turned ten yesterday. So I now have three kids in double digits! We took a trip to Target to spend some birthday money (though given the small plastic pieces described above I was a bit worried about what would come home). She didn’t see much she liked though, so I guess we will try again.

 

6 thoughts on “Just a few hours to good

  1. Yay! Your office looks great, even minus a trashcan.

    I actually love decluttering/clearing away messes and agree – a lot of the time, it’s not as labour intensive as we might imagine to accomplish a much cleaner living space.

    My biggest trick is having a place for everything. While my house often looks messy, it’s not inherently cluttered. Mess is just stuff that needs to be put away. Once it’s put away – voila – a neat(er) space. If I know where everything needs to end up, it’s just a matter of putting it away. Designated “homes” really expedite the process on this. I try to have a place for everything – from swimming towels to bug repellent to sidewalk chalk to extra clothes for the kids and all the NERF gun bullets.

    Tomorrow is our two-week cycle for a cleaning service and I’m seeing the piles of things and the dirt on the floor and know that, with an hour or so prep + the outsourced time of deep-cleaning, 24 hours from now, the house won’t look half bad. Sure it descends back into chaos faster than I’d like, but since everything has a designated place, an hour or so can make things go from mess to half-way decent.

  2. Oh – we have a bucket of the erasers shaped like food. They came from my mom (who somehow gives the worst kids gifts despite her having raised 6 kids). They are so weird and my kids (6&9yo girls) love them.

  3. The take away of this blog is surely —-Sometimes things seem daunting. But it may be fewer hours to “done” than you realize. People who do National Novel Writing Month (write a 50,000-word draft in November) often write for about 2 hours per day. Maybe 3. That’s 60-90 hours to a book draft. A lot, but not infinite. Doable, with a focused push — really wonderful. A great hack to do big things steadily. Thanks mam.

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