“An ordinary problem that has settled in to roost.” This is what the Happiness Project calls “pigeons of discontent“, and clutter and procrastination are mine. My house is a disorganized mess, we can’t find anything, every available surface is covered in magazines, mail, coasters and God knows what else – but procrastination keeps me from clearing it all away. While I can ignore it for a while, eventually the clutter makes me feel stressed, while procrastination keeps me glued to the couch, and the problem just gets worse and worse until I feel like I am in way over my head, and my house starts to resemble an episode of Hoarders.

In many ways Steve and I balance each other out but this is not one of those areas. Unfortunately we are well matched in our slob-like tendencies. It’s not uncommon (please don’t judge) for our kitchen to look like this:

or our bedroom like this:

and yeah, it’s really pitiful.

I would really like to develop the kind of self-discipline necessary to keep my house looking a bit more like a Country Living spread, but it feels like a constant uphill battle. Right now I’m telling myself it’s because I work full time and am busy gestating, and yeah – it’s a bigger problem now than it’s been in the past, but the reality, if we want to be honest here, is that I would much rather watch TV, read, knit, or sleep the evenings away – basically do what I want to do – rather than invest the time into creating a peaceful environment in my home. And that really needs to change! I do not want to start our lives as a family of three with these bad habits in place. I know that the battle against clutter (and the struggle against procrastination) will be long-term challenges for me, but I want to know how to manage them so they don’t keep settling in to roost. These are deep-seated habits and behavior patterns I am trying to change.

So with the first step (acknowledging the problem) out of the way, how do I move forward?

  • Small goals. I work best this way, focusing on one thing at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of crap I need to sort through and the amount of cleaning I really need to catch up on. So tonight while Steve ran an errand before dinner, I did the dishes in the sink and loaded the dishwasher. Simple, right? And yet my first instinct was to throw myself on the couch for the next hour before he got home. I think setting a nightly timer – even if it’s just 20 minutes – will go a long way toward helping us control the clutter in our lives without making us feel like clutter maintenance is also taking over our lives.
  • Making it a part of daily life. I really do like homemaking, but lately I’ve been seeing anything that’s not a want as something that’s just getting in the way. By realigning the way I think about this, hopefully it’ll be easier to enact some changes. And hopefully it’ll help me to feel less resentful when I’m doing the dishes, too.

Anyway, that’s where I’m going to start. Tomorrow’s Friday so I’ll have the afternoon to myself. I don’t know if I’ll have the energy or drive to tackle the kitchen and the dining room and the living room and the master bedroom and bathroom, but – I’ll get started. Before I start, I’ll identify what my goals for the afternoon are going to be. With any effort luck soon my house will look more like this:

Or at least, it’ll be well on its way.

Are clutter and procrastination anyone else’s pigeons of discontent? If so how do you address the problem?