Stress is the perversion of time. ~ John O’Donohue
Since leaving full-time employment at the beginning of December, I’ve struggled with how to structure my days. This is the first post on how that’s going for me.
Every full-time employee dreams of being able to call her time her own rather than trying to squeeze her life into and around the 40-hour, Monday through Friday workweek.
When I was working, I dreamed of owning my time, of getting up when my body was ready to get up instead of when the alarm woke me. I dreamed of doing yoga and meditation each morning before a leisurely breakfast and then working productively on my writing, meeting friends for lunch, going for walks, taking or teaching the occasional yoga class, taking my laptop to a coffeehouse for a chai and wi-fi just to get out of the house. In the evenings I’d read or watch movies, cook, have friends over, and occasionally go out.
Well. That was the ideal, not what was real. It’s been more of a struggle than I anticipated.
I had just put my house on the market before leaving my job, so I’d already done a lot of downsizing and cleaning. My goal was to get the house listed by the end of November, which happened. Yay, I reached my goal!
But to reach it, I had stuffed a large pile of papers (mail, bills, receipts, papers I had no idea what to do with but couldn’t just recycle) into a cardboard box and stuck it on a shelf in my study to make the house look tidy for prospective buyers.
(I feel compelled to explain that I am messy by nature. I like being able to see things, having them out in full view. Staging is the antithesis of that. You make your house look impersonal. You take down all your photos and get rid of your clutter. You start living in a house that doesn’t feel like your house. It feels like somebody else’s house — somebody who lives in a magazine.)
It took a few days to get around to that box of papers after my job ended. The first weekend I spent as an assistant at NLP training. The second weekend I participated in an Evolutionary NLP workshop. In between, I’m happy to say, I did get that pile of papers sorted and filed.
And there was the excitement of being contacted about possibly being on a TV show, Sell This House. Ultimately, my house wasn’t chosen, and I don’t know whether to feel sorry or relieved about that. All this during December, with holiday events and parties and activities galore.
The other thing that brought my dream schedule down to earth was showing the house. Realtors would call about showing it to prospective buyers either later that day or the next, and I would need to clean up and leave, usually right before they arrived.
I’ve got this down to a quick routine 5 weeks later, but it took awhile to learn to tidy one room at a time.
- In the kitchen, wash the dishes, dry them, and put them away. Then clean the sinks, countertops, and stove top. Eyeball the room for anything out of place.
- Take my caddy of toiletries out of my small bathroom and hide it in the laundry room. (This is so people can imagine their stuff in my bathroom!) Eyeball the room for anything out of place.
- Shove my desktop-type clutter of calendars and bills and receipts and magazines into a basket and stick it on the shelf in my study. (See, I learned well and upgraded from a box to a basket!) Eyeball the room for anything out of place.
- Check that my bed is neatly made and dirty clothes in the basket, preferably not with my underwear on top. Eyeball the room for anything out of place.
- In the yoga/meditation studio (formerly the second bedroom), roll up my yoga mat and put my foam roller away. Eyeball the room for anything out of place — except I decided that people need to see that yoga mat and foam roller out and being used. Seeing these items out makes them (that is, me) feel good.
- Make sure the house smells nice. Clean the cat’s litter box and sweep up around it. Take out the trash and recycling. Upend the fragrance sticks in the entry hall to diffuse the aroma.
- Eyeball the entire house, porch, and yard for anything out of place.
- Leave. Don’t come back for at least an hour.
Sometimes there are two or even three showings a day. I’ve done so much housekeeping in the last five weeks, I could become a maid.
The truth is, I appreciate my new habits very much. I enjoy living in a clean, tidy, spacious, decluttered house. It feels very Zen.
And now it’s January 8, and I still haven’t settled into the kind of structure I imagined. I go to bed later and get up later. When I do get up, why, sometimes I get sucked right into my laptop (Facebook, email, and blog stats are like crack) before I’ve done any yoga or meditation, and the next thing I know, it’s 10 am and I haven’t brushed my teeth yet. And then a realtor calls and wants to show it at 11….
I want to do better than this.