The Joy of Cleaning, #nerdlutions, One Little Word, and a Notebook Full of Possibilities

On the very last day of 2014, I woke up with a bounce in my step and a determination to do something.

That something, as it turned out, was the beginning of a three day whirlwind cleaning spree.

This is significant.

My approach to cleaning is generally to do what obviously needs done (wash the dishes before we have to buy paper plates, take out the trash before the garbage men come, vacuum and dust before company comes over…) and push the piles of clutter out of the way with the plan of “I will sort through that stuff when we move.”

Except we’ve been here for more than seven years.

This is the longest I have stayed in any one home since I was in ninth grade.


So I have accumulated some serious clutter — primarily in my office.

I make these wide-eyed optimistic plans to go through things and get rid of stuff one of these days on a frequent basis. The stars must have been aligned because one of these days started on 12/31/14 and didn’t really let up just yet.

I think what happened was me realizing how simple it was to get my son to pick up the clutter in his room the other day. I told him to pick up the stuff on his floor so I could vacuum in there and he came out with panic in his eyes that this was an Impossible Task. I know that feeling. I get it whenever I look at big projects of all sorts and I know how to deal with it. “What do you have the most of on the floor right now?”

“Uh…I have a lot of cars.”

“Right. So where do the cars go?”

“In the car case downstairs.”

“Excellent. Go pick them all up and put them away. Do it fast and then come back and tell me what is taking up the most floor space.”

He did a lot of running back and forth between me and his bedroom, but he got it clean pretty quickly…despite his hour of lost time where he got distracted by some shiny thing.

I think it reminded me that I need to break things down into smaller chunks for myself so I feel like I can successfully cross things off my to-do list, encouraging me to keep going. It also reminded me that just getting started can build a momentum of its own.

So I got up the next morning and I starting picking things up and putting them away. All the books went on the shelves – except the ones I’m reading right now and the ones from the library. Papers started to get filed or thrown away. The vacuum was run, the shelves were all dusted, desk drawers were cleaned out, clothes put away or put in bags to donate. Recycling was taken out to the car, ready to go. A piece of old furniture was cut loose and put out for trash.

The baseboards got washed.

I was a woman on fire.

Since then, my desks have gotten cleaned off, my husband and son have gotten in on the project and cleaned up their own spots — and all of us agree that this is so much better.

And really, all of it happened just because I got started.

So while I was getting ready for bed on the very first evening of 2015, I couldn’t help but think that just starting was all I needed to get me to do a lot of things that I want to do.

And getting started only takes a good fifteen minutes.

Because I can do anything for fifteen minutes.

So I got up and got on the treadmill in the wee hours of January 2. For fifteen minutes.

I haven’t been on the treadmill since last January when Jason turned it into a treadmill desk for me.

In case you were wondering how far fifteen minutes goes for a 39 year old woman who hasn’t done much working out in the past year, it goes about 0.69 miles. Not too bad.

But I can do better.

I know that getting started is half the battle.

The rest is to keep going.

I bought a new graph notebook to use as a running to-do list (an old supervisor did this and I have done it with mixed success over the years — the very act of recopying what I need to do that didn’t get done on any given day is a reminder of needing to do it…and a mild punishment for not having finished that task again). I know that I like to check things off – and doing it on my phone is never as satisfying as crossing things out by hand.

And seeing things get checked off the list is its own sort of momentum. It made me think of not breaking the chain. I did the cross out the dates on the calendar thing many years ago to break a bad habit and it worked wonders.

While I had all these ideas running around in the back of my head, Katherine mentioned that she was buying a notebook to try out Bullet Journaling – something that Kate Messner was talking about on Twitter recently. My new notebook seemed to work really well for this so I decided to start numbering for my calendar and get to it. I’m three days in and like it so far. I’ll let you know how it’s working out for me as some more time passes and life gets back to its usual pace.

Then the #nerdlution posts started turning up in my feed and I started thinking about that. These are short-term goals (only 50 days) — but they are the kind that are meant to help create better habits. Just. By. Getting. Started.

So here’s what I’m thinking, friends, about the things I want to get started. The trick is I’m planning to only dedicate fifteen minutes each day to the following endeavors. (Who knows…it might end up being longer than that, but I’m only requiring a minimum of fifteen minutes.)

  • I want to write at least fifteen minutes a day. While I figure that some days that writing will be personal (like it has been for the past two days), you can probably expect to see more (short) blog posts here. I am hoping to do more book reviews this year — and I’m wondering if that requires a new blog or if I should post them to Goodreads or if I should just go ahead and post them here and on my classroom page. Thoughts?
  • I want to clean for at least fifteen minutes a day. I know that doing this will actually go a long way to keep this place looking like it does now. And I like the way it looks right now. A lot.
  • I want to plan for at least fifteen minutes a day. This involves that awesome notebook that I spent a whopping $1.09 on. It’s really an attempt to keep my life tidy and organized – and probably healthier since part of that planning has to do with groceries and menus.
  • I want to exercise for at least fifteen minutes a day. Right now exercise means walking for me. I know that this is not ideal, but I need to start somewhere.

That accounts for an hour a day. If that one hour leaves me healthier and happier for my life’s other pursuits, then every minute I spend on it will be worth it.

All of this leads me to my One Little Word for 2015:


The only way I can make change is to start.

I already have three days on my chain.

Can’t wait to add another X tomorrow…

It’ll be one more thing I can celebrate.

This post is part of a group of posts from teachers around the country who are celebrating our weeks by sharing them in these posts. Click on the image above to see what others are celebrating this week.

This post is part of a group of posts from teachers around the country who are celebrating our weeks by sharing them in these posts. Click on the image above to see what others are celebrating this week.


12 thoughts on “The Joy of Cleaning, #nerdlutions, One Little Word, and a Notebook Full of Possibilities

  1. Love this post! We decided to clean out a drawer in the kitchen that has become a disaster. It took 25 minutes at the most and what a difference! We’ve been saying we needed to clean that drawer forever but you are right–it is getting started! I can relate! Very very impressive way to start the year! You got this!

    • The true test of any resolution is how it holds up once we go back to school. Musical rehearsals really start this week, too, so this could be really good.

  2. Baseboards? You really were a woman on fire! Best advice ever: Start. I can just imagine all the wonderful things this could lead to. I, too, recently started a 15 minute treadmill walking plan. I was avoiding the treadmill because I used to do an hour and even jog for awhile! There is no way I could do that now, but 15 minutes of walking I can do, and 15 minutes is better than 0 minutes!

  3. I love this how this post came full circle and I love the OLW. That would have been a good one for me too! I also saw the tweet about bullet journaling and this seems like a very structured way to organize my days which is what I need. Good luck with nerdlution and the start of your new year.

  4. I was just thinking today about how to keep track of my posts for the different blogs I write for and the books I need to review. Thanks for sharing the Bullet Journal. I think that may be helpful for me. I have at least two different journals going right now, but both are just about filled so this is the perfect time to switch. I really enjoyed reading your post. Like someone else said, it was nice because it circled back to your OLW. Have a great year!

  5. This post makes me feel a little anxious. Ha. I SOOOO need to de-clutter my house, and I can never get a START. Maybe I’ll get inspired by this post when I’m ready. :-) I think it’s a great OLW!

    • This makes me feel better. I’ve seen your pictures on FB and your house looks spotless – zero clutter! So far, it’s a great OWL. Easy to remember.

  6. Cindy, start is such a good OLW. I am sorry that I read your post after I created a Tagxedo word cloud of OLWs from Celebrate This Week posts. I can relate to your clutter dilemma. I STARTED to clean the cluttered chaos brought home from my office when I retired in 2013 but only to add more books and boxes from my consulting role. Thanks for making me think of finding a new way to declutter.

  7. Pingback: The Bigger Picture | Charting By the Stars

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