My dad has taught me a lot of life lessons in my 22 short years. Needless to say, the first few were about cleaning up after myself. I always got in trouble for leaving dishes around. I guess eventually I got a little better and at least brought them to the sink. But then they’d accumulate and he’d still come home from work or a business trip and have to clean up after my brother and me.
More than once he told me, “When you’re done with it, rinse it and put it in the dishwasher. If you do it right away, it only takes 30 seconds, but if you wait a week, it takes you half an hour to clean them all.” And who wants to spend half an hour doing the dishes ever?
Eventually he got through to me and I put my dishes away as soon as I’d finished with them. I realized, as I usually do, that he was right. Especially when I moved out and had to clean up after myself. Or worse, after someone else. I wanted to tell my less cleanly roommates what he told me. If you just do them as they come, you save loads of time and effort.
I realized last week that this has played a larger role in my life than homemaking. It has ultimately taken a place in my professional work ethic. When I get a task I put it in my to-do list. And if it’s something I can take care of in a few minutes, that’s what I do. I do it right away. Because otherwise I know the small things will build up and I will spend hours on them later.
Organization and time management are key to prioritizing recurring tasks and unexpected projects. Keep track of what you work on and pay extra attention to time-sensitive items. Take care of what you can immediately so you don’t have to make an extra effort to clean up after yourself (or someone else) later.