How to Git er Dun When Tasks Seem Overwhelming

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Recipe for chaos:
Three kids and one cat
One 1100 square foot bungalow with two small bathrooms and a half finished basement
A calendar schedule too full; two full time jobs
Mix with meals and fun and fights and dirty clothes and science experiments
Leave out for a week to ripen

My family has created this recipe, more than once. And then the day comes when it just has to be restored to order. But the task is SO overwhelming. Where do you even begin?

Now, I am not a genius, but I figured this out. This plan can be worked with or without help from the perpetrators.

1. Create a fairly easy but significant victory. Choose a space that is not overwhelming, but one that if it was cleaned would give you a sense of having sanity in one place. It might be the living room space, or master bedroom. Clean the clutter, vacuum the rug, polish the table and put the lamps a-right and voila! Breathe.

2. Tackle the worst job. You have a victory under your belt. Now before you lose energy do the worst space. Usually the kitchen in my world. Just do it. Be a machine. Dishes. Counter. Table. Window splatters. Floor. Whew. Two clean spaces.

3. Coffee break. Sit and look at the miracle you have created. Sit on the front porch if it is warm. Feel the sun on your face. Put on the radio. SMILE.

4. Take on some of the smaller spaces. Bathroom one. Bathroom two. Don’t stop now. Get some wash going. Clean master bedroom. Halls.

5. Add a flourish. By now you know if you will finish the whole thing or just do this much. You have already created a completely different environment. This is the time when a few branches off the flowering bush outside can make your kitchen table feel glorious. Or tidy your porch and put something pretty out there. It only takes a minute but this ‘above average’ move will make your soul happy.
Even better, throw some cookies in the oven so the kids come home to a treat with a smell. When I cleaned the house and the kids came home they loved it – and I would always have a nicely set table for dinner.

Wisdom: You may want to shut the kid’s bedroom doors. You may choose to put everything that is on the floor onto the bed, and clean the floor and then shut the door. I am a firm believer in cleaning up after your own self.

Recently I read an article on workplace savvy and one of the ideas was that when you have piles of work, do the second scariest task first, and then after you have secured that victory, go ahead and do the scariest task. (Scariest was the technical term the article used.) Then do all the other work.

I read that article feeling a bit superior. Their advice was already in play in my life. You don’t have to be a CEO to be strategic and awesome. Just saying.

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Vice President for Community Formation at Asbury Theological Seminary and has been a church leader in the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination since 1979. She has wide pastoral experience in partnership with her husband Steve. Together, they have lead three churches over 31 years, provided missionary member-care and pastoral retreats in Chile, Argentina and Venezuela since l985, and formation teaching during Field Conferences in Eastern Europe and Indonesia.

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