Why 2019 Will Be Awful: Cleaning Rituals

Levelling Up and Productivity, Values based living

Every New Year’s Eve, for as long as I can remember, I have cleaned my room from top to bottom, cleared out documents and thrown away items I don’t want anymore. It’s a larger version of a mini ritual I do every weekend — ‘a weekly review’ you might call it, if you’re into productivity communities. When I feel stressed at work I clean up my desk as well, or delete all my emails. A cluttered mail inbox makes my skin crawl.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to clean and minimise. Looking after your belongings and taking care of your surroundings can certainly boost your mood. A weekly review is also a useful tool to get a picture of your week and learn from your mistakes. But in my hands it’s also been a compulsive tool.

I realised this year that I often use(d) cleaning to feel in control of the present — and the future. When I’ve had something big coming up I have always used cleaning (‘resetting’ a room, or the whole house in some cases) to settle me. Not doing that makes the dread just rise up inside me, and I can see how that feeling emerged. Weeks and weeks of practising ‘inbox zero’, or writing down everything I need to do when I feel overwhelmed…  It’s not hard to see how my Rat Brain would soon interpret this as: If you don’t clean or delete until things feel “right”, you’re choosing to make tomorrow/this week/next year bad.

Acknowledging this gives me some room to tease Rat Brain a bit, and push into that discomfort.

Since I’ve moved out (for real) this year, with no sign of coming back on the horizon, there’s far less to clean before NY. I was finished after an hour. Usually I’d whip out the polish and wet microfibres, but I hardly live here now and my mum, bless her, makes sure it’s not dusty when I return so it doesn’t trigger my asthma.

I don’t need to clean anymore, dust my shelves, straighten stuff, make sure blu-tack is sticky and stuff is straight, align all my boxes, put everything out of sight from the main area…

But I want to. All I have done today is laundry, a little bit of packing and picked up some things I want to bring back north, because that’s all that needs doing. I haven’t even picked up a dust cloth! My poor Rat Brain is having a tantrum, because by not cleaning right now I’M RUINING 2019. I’m literally choosing to fuck over future me by not cleaning until my room ‘feels right’.

Soooo. I guess 2019 is going to be my worst year ever, guys!

And it’s all because I didn’t polish. Darn.


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