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Clean Sinks and Creativity

For the past two weeks (I started two weeks ago today!), my kitchen sink is clean (I got this idea years ago from my therapist, and then later from the Fly Lady website). This sounds pretty small, maybe unimportant. But it's making a noticeable difference for me, for my state of mind and I think for my creativity.

See, I'm a slob. And I have too much stuff, but I really like having all of it, but I am not good at organizing or tidying, house is a cluttered mess. And dirty, because the clutter makes it nearly impossible to clean floors or really anything else. And this natural state of mine leaves me anxious and depressed and creatively blocked. So I decided I need to find a way to change things.

I've been on this bandwagon before. A few times. So I'm trying not to get too excited. But this time I do feel like it's different. I'm not trying to immediately add in a new thing as soon as the sink is clean. I'm just sinking in to that habit (pun not intended, but now that I noticed it, I'm keeping it!). I'm going all Kaizen-Muse with this.

So far the hardest part is fighting off the thoughts that this is too small and is never going to help me get to the bigger goal of a tidy and welcoming and organized home. I just tell myself it doesn't matter if it doesn't go further. This habit is giving me lots of good things all on its own--a feeling of accomplishment; better meals because I don't order carry-out or get fast food because there are no clean pans for cooking and I'm too tired to clean them; space to work when I want to make something, even when it's just making my lunch.

I have an inkling that there might be deeper payoffs, too. This past week I found myself doing some writing and capturing some really fun new story ideas. I've been doing a little bit of art journaling even though I don't have clear space to work in. I started designing embroideries for this year's The 100 Day Project.

Are these related to my sink project? I don't know. I do feel like there are some feeling shifts stemming from the clean sink initiative (yes, I do watch a lot of superhero movies). My plan is to continue with this until it really sinks in and becomes a habit. This is going to take longer than the 21 days that gets tossed around in regards to habit building. I think that 21 days is only true if you are trying to build a brand new habit, not when you're also trying to overcome old habits. But that's another conversation.

I'm planning on writing about this house cleaning thing (tidying? I do like the word) more. Report in on how its going, report on any changes and additions. For now I just wanted to put it out there, say that I'm doing it, see if anyone else is feeling this pull to clear their space and make room for more of what they really want.

So drop me a note and let me know about your cleaning and tidying. We can share tips and cheer each other on.


3 thoughts on “Clean Sinks and Creativity

  1. Brittney

    Good for you!! I think there's totally a connection between the state of your home/environment and creative motivation. I know it's true for me. I don't have to have everything spotless all the time, but I do have a base minimum of tidiness needed for my well being, and by extension, creative energy, and I'm very impacted when it drops below that baseline for any extended period. It's different for everyone, of course.

    So good job in finding something that's working for you so far! You may have heard of the site Unf*ck Your Habitat, but if not, you might want to check it out. It's targeted toward people who experience depression, anxiety, etc. that makes it hard to maintain their space (and causes a spiral of its own). Lots of good tips on that site, but one of the biggest things they recommend is to start by doing just what you're doing: pick a small, doable thing to unf*ck and try to do it every day. I think the example they usually use is to make the bed everyday, but the point is the same.

  2. Laura

    I agree that 21 days is unrealistic. The times I’ve noticed, it seems more like two to three months before a new practice becomes natural. Two weeks is a most excellent start, and hooray for seeing creative benefits already!

    1. Kim

      I think two to three months is a lot more on target. It seems like it builds up. I feel like the clean sink is becoming more of a habit, but it's not a really automatic habit yet. I can feel it becoming more of that, though, as time passes.

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