Cleaning or procrastination?

Cleaning the house was the 1st on my list of mind-wandering activities but I’ve left it till last to address. And that’s because it’s my biggest weakness. While I’ve promoted it to one of boredom’s finer cousins, the truth is I suspect cleaning might be the most formidable temptation that routinely steps in the way of my ability to get “real things” done.

When I say cleaning, I mean sorting. Scrubbing and sweeping and dusting are part of my pleasure, yes – but nothing tops the sorting of papers and books and receipts and earrings and socks. It’s what I do when I need a break from the world. But cleaning is like a drug. Given the amount I hoard (not a pathological amount, but PLENTY), cleaning can pass as a worthy must-do. And it is — worthy. But never, a must-do. It’s just the way I relax.

If this sounds OCD then I should clarify it’s not about cleanliness (too right yell friends in the know), it’s about a deep-down belief that if my room is tidy then my life’s in order. And it’s always been this way. As a child I spent hours tidying my room. And then when I was finished I often didn’t know what to do so I learnt to make tidying my room not an efficient chore, but a ritualistic process that could go on and on and on and on.

Like combing the beach and taking the train and walking to work, cleaning my room grounds me.

The upside to this … I don’t know is it a disorder? is it all that rare? is that I always know how my life is going. But ironically it’s not whether my belongings are in order, it’s by how many hours I’m prepared to devote to fixing that.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Cleaning or procrastination?

  1. Yep, I can relate to this too… although for me it is about whether my belongings are in order. If I’m going to spend the day writing, my desk has to be organised and I have to know that there isn’t washing up in the sink or breadcrumbs on the kitchen floor. The process does allow mind-wandering time though, and if I’m stuck, I often go for what I think of as an ‘activity break’, which more often than not involves cleaning or cooking something.

    Great series of posts this weekend!

  2. allison

    cleaning is generally a chore I resent having to do but I do clean ferociously when I am angry. the house sparkles post-blow-up. it’s my version of hitting a punch bag to get rid of the fury. so cleanliness has nothing to do with it for me either, but as far as cathartic experiences go it’s almost as useful as gardening and a good way of distracting yourself from the banality of cleaning. tidying on the other hand, is enjoyable in nearly any mood 🙂

  3. nathaliehourihan

    The distinction between CLEANING and TIDYING is crucial – not sure I made that too well within the piece, thank you – and I agree tidying is fun almost all of the time. Except for tidying up clothes. Really I can’t stand having to hang up my clothes and am guilty of continually creating piles —

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