Friday, August 7, 2009

Lists & Lessons

Day one. The cleaning process began around 11 this morning and continued until 4:30 this afternoon. It should be noted, this is the longest stretch of time I have ever spent cleaning. Normally, I get distracted after about 1.5 hours with something much more interesting and appealing - like catching up on missed episodes of tv shows online, writing in my diary, reading a great book (or a bad one). Basically anything that is not cleaning. But today was different. I woke up this morning knowing today would be a day spent cleaning and wanting very much to accomplish as much as possible. I did not get as much done as I had hoped, but it was not because I got distracted - there simply was not enough time.

Today, after arriving home from work, I began by choosing a focus, a target area, if you will. Trying to clean and organize your home to the point it's magazine ready is no easy feat. In fact, it's insanely overwhelming! Why am I doing this, again? Right, to see if it's possible. Thinking about our entire apartment and everything that needs to be done to all of our 4 rooms makes me want to fly in the opposite direction. You would, too, wouldn't you? And some of you probably have houses with more than 4 rooms! (Maybe you shouldn't attempt this until I've determined whether it's even worth it with my meager amount of space.) 

Ok, back to the subject at hand. My focus area for today was: Bathroom and Kitchen. Bathroom because it's small and always needs cleaning; kitchen because that's where my husband and I spend most of our time (we thoroughly enjoy cooking and baking). I already knew what my very first task would be: bleaching the kitchen sink and the bathroom tub. Following instructions from Real Simple's Solutions, I filled both as full as possible with hot water and added 1 cup of bleach to the sink, and 2 cups of bleach to the tub. Then I waited for 1 hour before doing anything more with them. 

In the meantime, I had a quick lunch and decided it would be smart to write out a list of things I wanted to accomplish for the day. Here's my list:

It doesn't look that big, but I learned today that cleaning and organizing are processes that take more time than I think they will. I was able to check off the following:
  • Bleach tub
  • Bleach sink
  • sweep and mop both rooms
  • clean dining room/kitchen table
  • clean counters
  • clean toilet and bathroom sink
To be fair to myself, that was half of my list. Not bad on my first day.

Once I was done writing the list, I swept and mopped the kitchen floor, and was about to begin on the bathroom floor when I encountered a problem. A major one. My tub with the bleach solution had completely drained!! It was dry, dry, dry and the hour soaking time was not up. Oh dear! Well, I only had 1/4 cup of bleach left, so I didn't fill the tub full again, but only filled it half-way and let it soak for another 40 minutes or so. Note to self: in the future, when doing something that requires soaking, make sure to check said space early and frequently to ensure there are no problems.

It was time to complete the kitchen sink, which had not encountered any problems in its soak. After draining the water and rinsing the basin, I sprinkled Baking Soda in the bottom to use as a non-abrasive cleaning agent (recommended by Real Simple).
I have to tell you, I've used baking soda when cleaning cookie sheets, drains, and other household items before, but never the sink or the tub. You need to add it to your cleaning supplies! The stains in my sink scrubbed out so easily with the baking soda. It was truly a glorious and exciting moment! (Who am I?) After a final rinse to remove any lingering baking soda, my kitchen sink is beautiful, white, and sparkling. I also had equally wonderful results with the tub.

By this time, I needed a little break from the cleaning. Not to worry! I found myself a little decorating project to occupy my time. Before my husband and I moved into our place, we lived with his sister for about 2 months. She had a little set of hooks hanging on her wall which she used to hang her keys. It was brilliant! (Ok, I know other people have these - I'm not intending to imply the key hooks are unique. Simply that we appreciated them immensely.) So one of our first purchases for our apartment was a set of hooks for ourselves. Well, we've been here nearly two months now and neither of us has even mentioned hanging them up. You see where this is going.

I placed the hooks on the wall and marked the places where holes needed to be drilled for screws. Luckily I found an electric drill in our closet - I have no idea who lent it to us because it's not ours! And then I panicked slightly when I realized I haven't had a shop class since 6th grade - about 13 years ago. 'How do I get the bit to stay?' 'Is there a little attachment for the different sizes?' My husband, dad, and grandfather would be so proud to know I figured it out on my own, and managed to use it successfully! Our key hooks are now hanging on the wall with the door harp my grandfather made resting gracefully right above them.

To complete my day of cleaning, I washed the table, the remaining dishes, the kitchen counters, and the bathroom. It was an exciting day and I feel good about what I managed to get done...but there is still so much to do! I guess there's always tomorrow. Until then here are some lessons I learned from today:

1. Wear shoes with good support. Your feet won't hate you if you do! (Mine hate me right now. Flip flops = no support.)
2. Determine a focus or target area and only worry about that room/task/area.
3. Make a list. It holds you accountable.
4. Play music loudly!
5. Take before and after pictures - you'll be impressed with yourself.
6. Tell someone what you've done so they can be really impressed, too! (Admittedly, I have yet to tell the husband, but my sister in-law was uber excited for me.)
7. There's always tomorrow.

~Ms. S

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