Noticeable Improvement Plan

Because of my depression, normal everyday tasks often feel huge to me.  In the past this has created a lot of stupid chaos in my life.  Including living in disaster areas, otherwise known as my apartment.

The advantage of growing older is that you learn coping skills.  And one of those skills was to recognize that small improvements over time make A HUGE DIFFERENCE.

So now my goals are tiny and I only task myself with noticeable improvement, not perfection.

The holidays have not been particularly happy for me.  And this has led to me not putting things away and not keeping up on the tasks that keep the chaos at bay.  So the floor around the kitty litter didn’t get swept after I scooped and kitchen counters are littered with ingredients that didn’t get put away and the table is littered with various small gifts I got from work, etc.

The things that slowly turn a home into a disaster area are starting to build up.  So today is my day off and I started to do the things.  But I don’t intend do an intensive clean and leave this apartment in shining order.  I intend to improve the situation in a way that I will notice.  So I swept the floor, I didn’t mop it.  I will clear off the clutter but I won’t dust and polish the furniture.  Next week or next month the improvement task will be polishing furniture or waxing the floor.  But it’s OK that it’s not today.

An interesting thing happens when I look at life as an ongoing process of improvement rather than a defined goal of perfection.  I look for and find a thing that will improve it.   And when I no longer need the thing to be perfect, doing it is less burdensome.  I’m not chasing a fantasy of golden perfection.  I just want to see a difference.  I can find satisfaction in the improvement, rather than dissatisfaction at the perceived ways I didn’t meet the perfection goal.

My brain is very good at twisting things into huge hairy deals.  And I think that was part of what made keeping my environment in order when I was in my 20s so hard.  To 26 year old me the house needed to look like a magazine cover or there was no point to cleaning.  All of it should be cleaned to perfection at once.  So cleaning was a huge task.  And so I put it off and things just kept getting worse not improving.

Now I just want my house to feel comfortable and neat.  I no longer feel any burden if at the end of the day there is dust on the tables.  Because that is a task that can be done tomorrow and no one is any worse for it.

As a result my apartment is nearly always in a fairly decent condition.  It may need to be dusted but there is never so much stuff on the floor that I need to step around it.  The dishes are done and the kitty litter is always kept clean, there is no laundry on the floor and the garbage is always taken out.   Because of that, now when I’ve had a bad month, the only things that need to be done to make it feel better about it will take me less than 45 minutes to sort out.

Noticeable improvements.  It’s the only way to live life.


9 thoughts on “Noticeable Improvement Plan

  1. As a recovering hoarder I know this battle all too well. It took me years to work through it. Mostly now I am the opposite, I don’t keep things because I’m so afraid of being back in that place.

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  2. A dear friend suffers from depression and has for the better part of 40 years. One of her things is perfection. She finds it hard to let go. I’ve tried helping her but good enough wasn’t good enough for her. She mostly wallows in chaos. I’ve accepted her as she is as there is nothing else I can do. When you think about it, it’s a catch 22. I love how you have learned to cope. Wish I could bottle it and give it to my friend.

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    1. Perfection is such a lie. And I used to buy it wholeheartedly. But it only exists as a method to sell things (as in beauty) , manipulate people (as in school grading) and subject ourselves to unnecessary misery (as in thinking an ideal is possible). In all cases it’s not real. But the weirdest part is that almost everyone will argue with you about some part of that statement. People believe in perfect.

      I hope your friend finally sees it’s a lie.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had a similar recognition, but in a different context – i.e. not related to depression. After living in a quite orderly environment for 40 years, it became impossible to keep up with the messes and disorder my three family members caused. At some point I realized I had three choices and all of them bad: 1) I could exhaust myself completely with the aggravating work of cleaning up after them, 2) I could nag them incessantly to be neater, or 3) I could give up and live unhappily in a pigsty. As you can probably guess, I went your route – relaxing my expectations a bit and embracing the charms of what I used to see as a “pigsty”. It became instead “a household where,obviously, children live”. In your case, maybe it is a household where, obviously, a person lives who is too smart to strive for perfection.

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