Little Changes, Big Results
Since I came back home from vacation, I’ve been a bit obsessed with transforming our living room into more of a paradise (going away tends to seed grand ideas like this, have you noticed?). I’ve picked out a couch (just can’t decide if we need a chaise on one end), and am planning to recover two chairs with very simple white slipcovers. They are improvements that will likely total in the hundreds of dollars, but when it comes to making a house a comfy home, they seem well worth it.
As I was sharing all this yesterday with a friend, getting her thoughtful nods of approval, I asked if she had other ideas. You know, fresh solutions for my same old spatial problems. Her eyes traveled around the room.
“Is the printer usually on the floor?”
“Oh, um, no.”
“Maybe you could move it.” She looked around more. “And what are all those cords under your desk?”
“Well, I don’t know really.”
“Maybe you could corral them? I bet you could do it in an hour. Use some twisty-ties.”
At first I thought she wasn’t quite playing along with my game. After all, I meant big, sweeping, grand changes, like totally rearranging the furniture, not piddly, organizational tasks like moving the waffle iron and abandoned picture frames from the tops of the bookshelves. But then I realized, of course, that my eyes had grown accustomed to certain unpolished, cluttered bits in my apartment; getting those in ship-shape might have as much as an effect as a big white couch, and for a lot less dough.
In fact, I’ve hated the jumble of cords under the desk that snake out into the floor space beyond since we moved into this apartment twelve million years ago. Why had I just come to accept this eyesore?
It took only thirty minutes to corral those cords. Nevermind that I broke the internet in the process and am typing this on stolen wifi. It’s well worth it. Thirty minutes for one small corner of peace of mind. And eventually I’ll figure out how to get our internet back up and running. Here’s hoping. (I believe this is what Gretchen Rubin calls in The Happiness Project a “boomerang errand”––one completed task that supplies you with a new, fresh to-do. Lovely.)
So why is it so hard to get going on these little tasks? They drive us absolutely nuts and yet finding thirty minutes to empty out a drawer or deal with a mountainous pile of mail seems as difficult as finding the time and money for a two week vacation in Fiji. But the results, oh, the sweet results. The pay-off is so much greater than what you have to put in to get ‘er done. So why does it feel so insurmountable sometimes? What are the little annoyances around the house causing you to lose your mind? And what would it really take––in terms of money and time––to make them pleasing again?
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