Because There is Always Something…

posted by Andrea | 11/8/2016
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always something

I recently asked a group of women if the idea of “simple living” was encouraging or discouraging… and I was SO surprised to learn that many women actually felt DISCOURAGED when they thought about simple living.

Apparently, they felt discouraged because there is always something else they could be or should be doing to pursue a simplified life.

There is always another meal to prepare, always more laundry to do, always another to-do list to make, always things to declutter, purge, put away, or take to the donation center.

There is ALWAYS Something!

to-do lists

As much as I’d love to have the magic secret to completely simplify and organize all our lives for good, simple living will forever be a process, not a once-and-done activity you can cross off your list forever. 

Let me say that one more time…

Simple living is a process, NOT a once-and-done activity you can cross off your list forever.

Just like eating, sleeping, grooming, and so many other activities we mindlessly work into our days (sometimes several times a day) we must also learn to work cleaning, organizing, purging, and streamlining into our daily lives as well.

Of course, this is MUCH easier to say than to actually implement; however, it is essential to realize this if we’re truly seeking to simplify our lives.

I assume most of us don’t get completely discouraged when we realize there are more dirty clothes even though we “just” did the laundry 3 days ago. We don’t get upset when we realize people are hungry even though we “just” ate 4 hours ago.

We might not necessarily always enjoy doing the laundry, preparing meals, running errands, packing lunches, changing diapers, or washing dishes… but we know we need to do them eventually as it’s just part of life.

Similarly, we shouldn’t let ourselves get completely discouraged by the fact that there is always something more to do on our journey to a simpler life.

In case you’re wondering, this discouraging feeling doesn’t always bypass me either!

I thrive on finding new and better ways to simplify and organize pretty much everything… yet there are still plenty of times when I have felt discouraged by a growing to-do list and days when my efforts towards simple living don’t even seem to make a difference.

When this happens, I try to realize all those mundane daily activities that propel me towards a simpler more organized life must be completed at some point; so I might as well just do them as quickly and as efficiently as possible… and then move onto something more fun.

We will ALWAYS have more to do… that’s just a fact of life, and there’s no special trick or magic secret I can give you to change that.

Sorry. I’m good, but not THAT good 🙂

However, there is one relatively simple tweak we can all make to our attitude and frame of mind that just might help with the ever-discouraging feeling of “there is always something”. 

On one hand, if we look at it from the perspective of “Wow! I have so much to do, I’ll never complete everything on my list… and even when I do, there will most certainly be another mess to clean up. Why even bother in the first place,” we will not enjoy any of the process, we will dread simple tasks like folding laundry, washing the dishes, and pick up our homes, and we will be discouraged by the idea of simplifying and organizing our lives.

On the other hand, if we take the perspective of “It has to be done at some point so I might as well just do it now. I know it will never be perfect and I’ll never be fully finished, but I’m taking small steps to keep my home and life on track,” we will have more purpose to our tasks, we will look forward to crossing them off our list (even if we still don’t look forward to doing them), and we will hopefully feel more encouraged by the small steps we are taking to simplify and organize our lives.

Clearly, this will not work every time — we all have bad days (and weeks and months). I’m not naive enough to think that simply forcing a smile and positive attitude will magically cause us to love cooking, cleaning, organizing, filing, purging, bathing, diapering, and all those other monotonous daily to-dos that must be done at some point.

But can it really hurt to give it a try?

The next time you start to feel discouraged by your growing to-do list or the fact that your entire home and life feel totally overwhelming and out of control, take a step back and try to put a positive spin on it. Think of all the good things that could potentially come from doing that task (not the fact that you’ll most likely need to do it again tomorrow!)

It won’t be easy at first, but if we can force ourselves to think about these chores in a more positive way and just get started, we WILL begin to cross off our list and (more importantly) notice a difference in our homes and lives!

Yes, there is always something… what’s next on YOUR list?

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33 comments

  1. JJ

    11/08/2016

    Attitude really does make a difference! When you’re happier, you’re more productive. My mom and step dad would sit around and complain for HOURS about all they had to do. And even as a kid I’d sit there and think, “If you just did something in the amount of time you sat around complaining you’d be done with that thing!” My dad is a very organized, efficient man, so I saw quite the difference in lifestyles. The attitude was almost everything!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    You are SO right! Unfortunately, there are LOTS of people with the same attitude as your mom and step dad — always complaining about everything that needs to be done but never actually DOING any of it!

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  2. Christine from The (mostly) Simple Life

    11/08/2016

    My Grandma always said, “There’s nothing wrong with housework, it’s just daily”. 🙂

    I do think that by striving for simplicity, the everyday tasks get easier. When we declutter significantly, picking up the house is faster. A little maintenance here and there takes less time and energy than cleaning up giant disasters. And it’s less overwhelming too.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    love that saying — and it’s so true too!

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  3. Evie Fieseler

    11/08/2016

    Good, and thanks, Andrea. I know I feel discouraged when I haven’t gotten enough sleep, or if I’ve passed on exercising for too long, or if I’ve let myself eat a bunch of sugary/floury stuff and then experience the resulting blood sugar drop. Basic self care goes such a long way! 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, just basic self-care too — nothing crazy or extravagant. We need to make just a little time for ourselves 🙂

    [Reply]

  4. Amy

    11/08/2016

    This is such good advice, Andrea! I realized it a few years ago. I had read books that suggests that you can get organized ONCE-AND-FOR-ALL – which is not the case for anybody, but especially not a family with young children. It helps me to realize that simplifying is a ongoing journey.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    that’s a horrible book — I can’t believe any book on organization would ever suggest that. Boooo!

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  5. Ann

    11/08/2016

    It helps me to remember that
    “It’s much easier to KEEP UP than to CATCH UP”…

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, yes, yes!!

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  6. Chris

    11/08/2016

    Aww! James has such “happy” eyes! 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes!

    [Reply]

  7. mara

    08/09/2016

    Love this practical approach to every day activities none of us “love” to do!! Every little bit counts, I strive for progress not perfection for sure, so this is AWESOME!

    [Reply]

  8. 6 Things I Have Been Learning in January - Creative Home Keeper

    11/01/2015

    […] Because There Is Always Something | Andrea Dekker […]

  9. Just Keep Swimming - The Accidental Country GirlThe Accidental Country Girl

    02/17/2015

    […] a lot of great ideas to simplify life and yesterday she pointed out that it’s a process. http://andreadekker.com/because-there-is-always-something/  I couldn’t agree more.  Sometimes the to do list is too big if looked at on the whole but […]

  10. Jen

    01/29/2015

    This post was PERFECT timing for me. Thank you!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Glad to have such good timing 🙂

    [Reply]

  11. Abby

    01/29/2015

    Another great post. I appreciate your insight! Funnily enough I have a repeating cleaning scheduleon my google calendar, Mop up Monday, Toilet Tuesday, wipe it Wednesday, Throw it out Thursday, Fold it Friday. I’ve had it going for over a year but it would just frustrate me because I couldn’t keep to the schedule and it was constantly reminding me. Something else always seemed to need to get done or I couldn’t get to it. Even though it was an organized system, I just felt down on my self.

    I like this attitude of doing things as needed. I feel like I’ve been doing that but getting frustrated because of it. lol

    Why does there have to be so much mom guilt. It’s silly.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — nothing like a great cleaning schedule (that doesn’t work)! I’m naturally very scheduled, but I also know that there are TONS of things that require flexibility in my life — so unless it’s a Dr. appointment or a wedding, I’m not super strict with when/where/how things get done anymore — just as long as they DO get done eventually!

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  12. Jennifer

    01/29/2015

    About the task of simplifying specifically, I like to think of it as occasional time invested in making other tasks – which have to be done anyway – easier. It’s time invested in creating the attitude, systems and environment to make other tasks run smoothly. It’s not a one-time-only activity, but to me it’s not an all-day-every-day activity either.

    Like, sitting down to organise papers, create a good system and a routine for dealing with them, so that for a while your system can just work along and you won’t end up with a huge mess like you had before. So the organising, up front, might have been a task that took some time, but the rest of the time you enjoy the benefits in reduced time and stress dealing with paperwork because of the system you implemented.

    Not to say that you won’t ever have to overhaul your system if things change – to simplify it again – or to deal with a mess again if life gets in the way of your regular routine, but to me the really difficult effort of simplifying can happen occasionally, and have lasting effects for a while. You might get six months of easy-to-process paperwork after you create your simple system for dealing with it. I don’t think of myself as simplifying every time I do paperwork, but rather the effort at simplifying my system has made doing the paperwork – which I had to do anyway – easier.

    Simple living does NOT come naturally to me, I don’t think, which is why I do have to sit down purposefully in order to organise and simplify. I think for those who find it easier, it happens in smaller increments throughout their day. However, I do enjoy these purposeful organising/simplifying sessions because I know I am making my life easier in some way for a while after. Yes, I’ll have to do it again sometime later, but maybe not for a few months. In the meantime, I do my ordinary tasks more easily.

    [Reply]

  13. Natalia

    01/28/2015

    Really good points! I find myself struggling with this, too once in a while.
    I love organizing, simplifying, creating better systems, etc. – but I noticed that the more I do, the more I find other things to do and that is what makes me feel overwhelmed, sometimes.
    Besides, washing the same dishes one more time is not very exciting… unless I come up with a different way to wash, stack, or store them…
    And then there are those moments when something Else comes up (an emergency, some important events in someone-dear-to-us’ life that I didn’t plan for, a sickness or just plain exhaustion) and I fall way behind in my plans.. and that’s when I feel discouraged.
    Sometimes, if I’m honest and smart enough to realize where I am at that point and why I feel discouraged, I do something else. Instead of making, or even looking at my ever-growing “To-Do” list, I make a different list with “Done” things, and I gain momentum by celebrating the small accomplishments. I might clean up a drawer or dust the ceiling fan, not because it was on my plan, but just because I feel like rebelling against my to-do list and writing down “Dusting the ceiling fan” looks better (even if in my own eyes) on my “accomplishments” list than “playing solitaire”… Silly? Maybe. But it helps. Then, when I’m back on track and feeling like I’m moving and have direction again (like an old, tired, freight train), I can face whatever else I have on my list staring at me…
    Next on my list is attacking that annoying stack of papers in my office. It grows exponentially, with every second! Maybe I’m working on too many projects at once, maybe I’m just lazy to deal with it…
    Like you suggested, I’ll look at the positive effect the small steps will do and not the fact that there will be more papers to deal with tomorrow, and more the next day, and the next day….. Progress, not necessarily completion. I can do that! Thank you! (sorry for the length)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for your honesty Natalia! And guess what, I make “done” lists ALLLLLL the time! It’s a great way to look back at everything I’ve accomplished and realize that I have been productive and am getting lots done!

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  14. Meg

    01/28/2015

    Great post! I really, really think you hit the nail on the head by stating simlipifaction is not a one time, cross of your list kinda thing! I know I have been looking at it that way and I don’t know why. My circumstances are a little different, as both my daughter and I have chronic illnesses that limit our activities…I am always behind and overwhelmed. I am going to change my mindset (thank you!) and stop treating my homemaker duties like they have a finish line….it is all an ongoing process….thank you, Andrea!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Meg, I think that for me, just realizing and accepting the fact that housework would never end — and that’s just part of life — made a big difference.

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  15. Leanne

    01/28/2015

    I have found the last couple of years, especially with homeschooling 3 boys, there is always another thing for the to do list….
    but, I feel best on the days that I just ask myself– did I love well? did I accomplish the priorities that God gave me? (not necessarily the ones on my list that I was planning on checking off!) and was I available to be the person God wants me to be– a wife, a mother, a daughter and a friend…
    I have to maintain the perspective that purpose of being organized is so I can be that person …. and if my “to do’s” are taking over…. then I need a reality check….
    this was a great read, Andrea!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Leanne — and yes, I can only imagine how much “extra” to-dos homeschooling 3 children adds to your list! Sounds like you have your priorities straight though 🙂

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    Maria Reply:

    Yes, Leanne, you are so right! Love your perspective and priorities on life.

    [Reply]

  16. Eileen

    01/28/2015

    Enjoyed this post (as I do most even though I’m a generation older with college aged kids!).

    My comment is like a drop in the bucket compared to the overall theme, but it’s something I did years ago and have applied to other things over time. I used to hate to unload the dishwasher — I really don’t know why, but I just did (and procrastinated which created more work). Anyway, one day I decided to time how long it took. It was like 3 minutes, lol. And ever since then, I know that I can spare 3 minutes anytime. While something is cooking and in between stirs…while I’m boiling water….but really, you can just top for 3 minutes just about anytime.

    I started to apply that with other tasks…just how long will it take? After you do them, you wonder why you procrastinated at all.

    [Reply]

    Janelle Reply:

    I love your comment Eileen. I used to feel really overwhelmed with my to-do list and the most irksome thing was dishes. It felt like I could never get ahead of them. As soon as I cleaned out the sink, one more dish would find its way there and then soon a whole stack.

    I started to divide my organizing into 30 minute segments to keep me focused and not overwhelmed. I had a realization that it normally takes about 15 minutes to finish a whole stack of dishes. I used to dread doing the dishes thinking it took forever, but it is only 15 minutes. I can spare fifteen minutes throughout my day and that clean sink makes me feel like I accomplished something (even if it is only clean for twenty minutes!) Then I still have fifteen minutes to handle some of those other daily tasks (like going through the mail, folding laundry).

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I love this Janelle — such a simple system but it works for you! I actually use a timer to “race against the clock” and try to quickly finish small household chores ASAP. It’s a fun “game” for my very competative nature!

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    Abby Reply:

    I tell my family that the kitchen is closed after I finish cleaning up after a meal. I think it helps because I have closure. :).

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Eileen! And as a matter of fact, I will OFTEN do exactly what you did — time myself to see how long a task actually takes. This helps me a lot with not procrastinating because I know I have 3 minutes or 5 minutes or even 11 minutes to do something — and then it’s done and I can move onto the next thing!

    [Reply]

  17. Deni

    01/28/2015

    Great post, Andrea! I agree, our attitude makes all the difference in how we feel. “Expectations equal outcome” is a great quote from Cesar Millan. I think we all get overwhelmed in this busy world, and we have to focus on keeping it simple.

    [Reply]