Overdoing It

A buddy confided in me that his house was always messy. He couldn’t keep it clean.

“That’s it. This weekend I’m going to deep-clean everything. I’ll scrub from the top to the tile!” He told me.

He came over the next week. While he was hanging up his jacket, I asked him how the deep-clean went.

“There was so much to do. It was stressing me out. I didn’t do anything. Man, how do you keep your place so spotless?”

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I pointed to a muddy spot on the floor next to my shoes. It had been there since his last visit.

“Ok. I wouldn’t eat off your floor, but it’s nothing like my place.”

I shrugged. “I just clean sometimes.”

He looked at me.

“Really. I try to clean one thing every weekend. Kitchen sink. Bathtub. Whatever. Sometimes I don’t get around to it. During the week I do the dishes and sweep.”

He made a face.

“Ok, here’s the deal. You’re overdoing it. A top-to-tile deep clean is so much work! Just do one or two things sometimes. If you get around to it often enough, it adds up.”

He nodded. “Yeah, I guess I made it bigger than I needed to.” Scheduling too much cleaning had increased the static friction of the work so much that he couldn’t get started.

If you focus on doing enough instead of doing everything, projects that seem hard often become easy. They naturally break down into pieces you can do one by one. You’ll turn around one day and realize all the pieces you care about are done.

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