Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Ten-Minute-A-Day Clean Out Project

On Kol Nidre, the eve of Yom Kippur when rabbis measure their words very carefully to preach something that will motivate folks to change, our rabbi set out a simple but huge challenge: take on one commitment and stick with this new habit. Figure out what you need to do, and what it will take to make it happen. (His sermon is online - check it out when you have a chance.) He stressed that creating a new habit is a very, very, very difficult process.
As I sat there I ran down my list, and was happy to note I have cultivated healthy habits over the years, so I let my mind wander til I found a stresser: all the piles in my office, on household counters, in drawers, etc. Our house doesn't look messy, but having lived here 21 years, there is simply accumulation. Straightening these things up is a low priority task which I never seem to get to, and at that moment I admitted that I never will get there if I don't have some sort of discipline.
I committed myself to ten minutes a day of going through stuff. I set my trusty wristwatch alarm for 1:00 and when it goes off, I stop what I am doing and tackle a pile. For ten minutes. I actually look forward to it with some curiosity. What will I find today? Which pile will catch my attention? I try not to specify in advance, so it's a bit of an adventure. This afternoon I posted the decoupage glue from my studio closet on Freecycle - it was from my daughter's 8th birthday party and she's going to be 20. Betcha there's some decoupager out there who would be happy to take it. A few days ago I dumped bottles of perfume that have been on my shelf for 33 years, since I married my allergic-to-perfume husband. Why on earth did I keep them? Idiotic!!
While this undertaking is material, I think it is also spiritual. The act of saying "I do not need this in my life" opens a space for something else, even if it's not clear at the time what it will be.
And ten minutes is manageable. It reminds me I don't have to do this all at once, I have a whole year.
I also find the 10-minute approach a bit of a trick. If it's something I'm resistant to, knowing it's only ten minutes gives me the motivation to jump in. And of course once I've started, it's not so bad.
The amazing thing is that I've been doing this for a month and have only scratched the surface.

1 comment:

Shai said...

Nice example of how having a "practice" can really make a difference.

And I'll bet the fact that you've blogged about it will help you stay on track as you know there is a greater community of folks "with you" while you do it.