Friday, August 16, 2013

Low-hanging Fruit

Photo courtesy Flickr

This is maintenance month, a good time to consider the costs and benefits of various tasks. Simple de-junking is a high-yield exercise that produces easy cleaning, peace of mind, and expanded storage space. French fashion expert Ines de la Fressange said it best, “Everything gets a front-row seat.”

Tuning the basics creates a healthy relationship with one’s living quarters. Making sure windows operate as they were meant to, that door hardware is doing what it should, that nothing is rattling or sagging. Simply squaring things away makes a world of difference. It’s easy to overlook or put off the little things in the rush of daily life. That’s a sign that the pace is too fast.

I set up a minor maintenance project on one of a dozen cafeteria-sized trays I picked up at the Great Big Northern European Home Furnishings Chain. This 1890 kitchen has no counters in the main room, but the “pass pantry” is lined with them, and the trays are modular for the cabinetry. I can set up a project  while I wait for water to boil. Once the pantry silts up with chores, I call a halt to other enterprises and revert to handy mode.

Business writer Timothy Ferriss recommends “batching time wasters”. I’ve been experimenting with his technique recently, and it’s very helpful. It’s comforting to have a rationale for putting something off, and it really is more efficient to accumulate a day or a morning of tasks that require a different slice of brain capacity than tapping laptop keys.

One fundamental I have to learn over and over is how important it is to attend to basic clerical and organizing tasks. The things that are easiest to overlook are the nails in the horseshoe that keeps the household galloping along. When the basics are running hot and clean, it’s trivial to gear up for something more disruptive, like painting a floor.


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