Jack of Many Trades

Optimally Clean

Originally posted: 2014-11-19

Now that I'm a stay-home dad, I try to keep up with the housework.

"Try" is the operative term, of course. We used to split the chores pretty evenly and generally we did the same amount of getting done and letting things slide. Now that it's just me, even with the baby and trying to write I try to stay a little bit further ahead. It's a balancing act of daily maintenance - cleaning up after I cook, litter box, the never-ending parade of laundry - and projects that will hopefully make daily maintenance easier, like cleaning out the linen closets, figuring out how to store more than a few days of groceries in our storage-shy kitchen, and constantly fighting the battle of Not Enough Bookshelves.

If I'm not careful, chores start inching into OCD headspace. Growing up, I didn't feel like I had enough space in my room, and I would clean all day and feel like it wasn't good enough. Now I've at least learned the value of maintenance, but if things get away from me or I start hyper-focusing on one thing, I can get "stuck" on things that don't matter. (Have you ever scrubbed the vent hood or the inside of the freezer at 2am? I have.)

Today I stumbled across a post called What Is a "Clean House" Anyway? and I really like the standard for cleanliness set out there:

I want to clean such that the effort I spend cleaning is less than the effort I save in having to work around stuff. I want my stuff to be so organized that it makes things easy to do, but NOT so organized that it's a pain to keep it organized.

My goal is to work exactly hard enough to do all the stuff I want to do with the absolute minimum effort and stress. THAT'S how clean I want my house. Exactly so clean that, any messier, and things would take more effort to do, but that making it cleaner wouldn't make anything easier.

Well, that's pretty optimal, right? And I suspect that'll give me something to redirect those intrusive thoughts at - instead of overanalyzing whether something is germ-free or what people would think if they saw my place, I can focus on what the most optimal cleaning choice is.

I think I can work with that.