Monday, October 27, 2008

Habit of the Month: Clean Bathroom

It's been too long since I've posted anything; regular posting is a habit I'll have to develop. It's not the only one.

I tend to be a wee bit self-critical. OK, not a wee bit. Better stated, there's a wee bit of the time I'm not self-critical. Lately, I've been feeling even more so, especially as the economy slumps, our savings trickles away and the number of job postings (to which I've been applying unsuccessfully for years) dwindles more by the week. I've been basically hanging out at the house in my jammies living online in a kind of haze of politics and news and movies and DVD.

But now it's fall. I can tell, because I'm watching two squirrels scamper amidst the falling orange oak leaves in my yard right now and everyone has mums and pumpkins on their front porches to show how festive and stable they are and because I'm beginning to need a sweater or a coat when I go out at night or in the early morning.

That's a good thing. I love fall. Autumn is my favorite of the seasons, with spring a close second. It has a sense of purposefulness about it and yet a letting go of all the concerns of summer. The world is a different color, overnight. It's a new start.

And so, I've decided to embark on a gradual self-improvement plan. Discipline has always been a weakness of mine (see the rambly and unfinished reading list of a couple of posts ago, exhibit a), but I think it's correctible.

I've read somewhere different stats on how often or long you have to repeat something before it becomes a habit. The lower estimates are something like seven times (for the highly disciplined, I assume) and 51 times for the utterly unfocused or more difficult tasks. I figured I'd assign myself a habit a month, one thing that I want to do more consistently. It's something of an experiment, but I don't see how it could hurt.

Last week I cleaned my bathroom. We only have one and it's small and has only small amounts of storage, so it gets dirty and/or cluttered quick. Plus, my cat likes to go in there and hunt for the ants that randomly show up every eight weeks or so, and the dog likes to chase the cat out of the bathroom because either he doesn't think he should be there or he's worried Ashes may be walking into a bath-trap, so we end up getting more pet fur in the corners and crevices than Martha Stewart recommends.

It had gotten worse than usual, so I gave the bathroom the works: Pinesol, Swiffering (wet and dry), washing the window and mirrors, scrubbing and Tilexing the tub, cleaning the toilet, getting the Q-tip into the icky parts you can't really see behind the faucet, everything I could think of. It was a lot of work, sorely needed, but it looks great. Plus, the whole house smelled like cleaning products for about 48 hours, a rarity here.

"Can we just hang out in here tonight?" Ben said, taking it all in when he got home that day.

This past week, I've made a point to keep the counters clean, pick up my towels and clothes, put the meds back in the cabinet, rinse out the sink, all those things. So a week later, it still looks nice.

This, for me, is revolutionary.

"I could make this a habit!" I actually said to myself aloud in the bathroom. And thus, an idea was born. I usually try to improve too many things at once (I'll diet! I'll exercise! I'll organize my socks! I'll bake fresh bread every week! I'll cut back on TV! I'll stop embezzling millions!) and of course, they all end up flopping in on each other. This time, baby steps. One good habit a month. With the hope I can build on the previous success, rather than just being good at one thing at a time.

So while the rest of the house is still a cluttered den of somewhat interesting things mixed with junk mail and magazines, the bathroom--the place, other than the kitchen, it's arguably most important to have clean--is a haven of cleanliness, order and serenity. Sure, the wallpaper the landlord picked out is all kinds of awful and the storage is still an issue, and the map of the world shower curtain is getting pretty old, but it's clean. And it's staying that way, for at least the next 30 days.

1 comment:

Laura said...

yay for happy clean bathrooms. Think about how happy all those little tiles are! I bet they secretly sing showtunes with the faucet and shower fixtures at night when you're asleep - just because they're so happy.