My kitchen is now clean…and after a night like the one I had last night that is a big achievement.
I made oven-baked nachos for dinner, with beans and ground turkey. Dinner was delicious but messy. From the dining table, I looked over to see a pot, a pan and the Pyrex seating on the stove. They all had the stickiness of dried cheese and beans on them.
Suddenly my sticky dinner did not seem like such a good idea. And I thought of turning the lights off and walking away as though I did not see the huge mess. The only thing that prevented me from doing so was waking up to the same kitchen. I could only imagine how much worse it would be after 12 hours. Not a pleasant start to the day…
In a desperate move, I set the timer on the oven and allotted 10 minutes to quickly clean up. Setting a time limit made it seem less of a chore. I reasoned that I had a determined time that I would spend in the mess, and it was only 10 minutes. I could surely do this for 10 minutes.
I got moving, and because I was racing the clock I moved quickly, certainly faster than I would otherwise given how unmotivated I was.
Two minutes into cleaning, I no longer felt drained and unenthusiastic about it. Don’t hear me say that I was thrilled either, because I was not. My mind just wandered to other things. I began to think about how much I accomplished during the day, T.’s doctor’s visit, the boys’ bedtime reading, etc. Before I knew it, all of the dishes and cooking appliances were rinsed and in the dishwasher, the oven was wiped, the table was cleaned, the trash was picked up and I had 2 minutes left on the timer. Woohoo!!!
I was happy. In 8 minutes of work, my kitchen was ready and in order. And I thought back on how easily I could have walked away, how close I was to turning the lights down…and it led to broader thoughts about reaching my goals as a whole.
The value that I attach to a clean kitchen and the realization that delaying cleaning would only perpetuate the problem kept me from throwing my hands up and walking away.
Though I wish I could say that a pile of dirty dishes are the only things I have ever felt like just walking away from, they’re not. I have wanted to walk away from the mailbox when I was sure one more hospital bill was delivered in the mail, or from exercising because it’s overwhelming and I don’t feel like it, or from helping others who seem too stubborn to lean form their mistakes, or from other goals and aspirations that just seem unrealistic.
As insignificant as cleaning sticky nachos is, the lesson I learned from it was meaningful. Attaining my other goals—simple and major—can easily be moments away if I don’t throw in the towel. What would happen if I set a timer and proceeded to work diligently during that set time toward every one of my goals? The results could be great and as gratifying as shining pans.
There was nothing magical about the timer itself. It was not that the exercise that made the kitchen clean. I had to do the work, but the timer served as a visual reminder of how realistic and achievable the task before me was. It provided the parameters that I needed.
Instead of looking at a mountain of dishes with no hope, I saw a doable task, a quick 10-minute job. And this gave me the momentum I needed. I could not do it all night, but I could for 10 minutes.
Maybe you can identify, and you have some goals that you’ve placed on the back burner because they were just too big, too time-consuming, too-expensive and just plain too much right now. Go at it a little bit at a time. Set your timer, and get cleaning.
You’re on your way to a spotless kitchen if you don’t give up!