So, it’s spring. Which means more sun, more often. Which also means more sunlight coming through the window, revealing the thick, shameful layer of dust coating the living room like a vast, ashen landscape.
Ugh… Spring cleaning is daunting, isn’t it? We’ve been hibernating all winter with endless fires going in the fireplace (dust), dogs growing thicker coats (hair and dust), us growing thicker beards (more hair), and tracking mud-covered boots through the door (yeah).
I won’t go any further into the misery that is spring cleaning. You’re already stressed enough. Unless you aren’t, and in that case, I really don’t want to talk to you anyway. Just close this article and go enjoy your spick and span life, you spotless spoiler.
But for the rest of you, I want to share something that helped me this year. No, don’t get up yet. Keep those slippers on and enjoy the comfort of your own filth a little longer. This post will have you cleaning up your act in no time.
Flossing only one tooth and the Jedi mind trick of incrementalism.
I hate flossing. Hate it. Always have. Flossing and I have issues and my dental history reflects this disdain.
However, I read something online awhile back (which I can’t, for the life of me, find anywhere) that explained the vast importance of flossing over brushing and finished it up by saying something like this: “Oh, you don’t like flossing? Try just flossing one tooth.”
It had me intrigued. One tooth? Psshht. I can do that.
So I tried it. I flossed one tooth (which is impossible, because you’re always between two teeth, but whatever). “Hmmm,” I thought. “Cool. Done.”
And then the strangest sensation hit me. I HAD to floss the rest of them. It was almost harder not to because it felt fucking weird just flossing one (or two – whatever – you get what I’m saying).
This little stupid exercise I pulled from the interwebs while eating my Cheerios revealed to me the power of incrementalism.
With certain things, if you can just get yourself to do the smallest little increment of that thing, you’ll realize that you may as well do the whole damn thing since you’re already doing it. It’s genius, really.
Being a wise grasshopper, I went on to apply incrementalism to a plethora of things in my life. Here’s a few…
Hate push-ups? Do one (you’ll end up doing 10, 20, or 30).
Hate taking a cold shower? Do it for 5 seconds (you’ll push through the 5 seconds, no problem, and will go on for way more).
Hate eating healthy? Just take one bite of a tomato (you’ll rip into the whole thing and make a salad).
Hate writing? Just write one sentence (you’ll likely go on to knock out your daily word count goal).
Here’s the thing, though… If you go into this with the intention of doing more than that small incremental amount, you probably won’t do it. So try to stay disciplined, Padawan incrementalist. Try to just do a little bite-sized part of the big thing. Only do more (if you feel like it) once you’re actively doing it.
For the record, this is nothing new. Incrementalism has at least been around since the invention of potato chips (it’s true – you can’t eat just one). This takes some Jedi mind manipulation. But I know you have it in you. Which takes us to your spring cleaning efforts
Wax on. And that’s it.
Okay, so you’re sitting on your couch with a beer, staring at the layer of dust glistening in the beams of the setting sun. Fret no more. It’s time to take action. Here’s what you do…
1. Block off your calendar. Scroll through your calendar and find the first day that a 2-3 hour chunk of time is available. Please, don’t title it ‘cleaning’. Title it ‘free time’. You want to be able to see this on your phone without that sinking feeling of dread that you haven’t felt since before the chemistry test in junior high (do kids still take those – I dunno).
2. Locate the dust rag. So you’re back on the sofa at your scheduled ‘free time’ slot. Do you know where the dust rag is located? Maybe you can actually see it from where you’re sitting. Maybe not. The important thing is, you know where it is. That’s it for now. Baby steps here.
3. Stand up. Put. The beer. Down. Now, stand up. Awesome.
4. Get the dust rag. Go get it, tiger.
5. Clean ONE piece of furniture. The sun is probably showing you where to hit first. Go clean the shit out of that one piece of furniture.
6. Finish your beer. You deserve it.
7. Now what? The rest is up to you. If you can actually go back to your resting position on the sofa, you’ve proved me wrong. Or, you can crank up the Lynyrd Skynyrd radio on Spotify, crack open another Pabst, and go to town.
You’ve successfully graduated from Padawan status and are now a full-fledged Jedi incrementalist warrior.
Here’s to you and your soon-to-be spick and span living space.