Tag Archives: cleaning

My Habit of Cleaning for 5 Minutes Every Day

29 Apr

IMG_4035Like I mentioned in my last post, I stumbled across a book at the library called “Better than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits” by Gretchen Rubin. I grabbed it because building better habits has been a desire of mine for a while, and the book delivered!

The three main nuggets I took away from the book were:

1. It’s easiest to create a new habit by tacking it onto an already-existing habit.

The author, Gretchen Rubin, used existing habits in her own life (brushing her teeth at night, eating breakfast, going to work) as cues for the new habits she was trying to adopt. Her goal was always to get to the point where she could do the habit without thinking–because that’s the definition of a habit. You want it to become so routine that you don’t even think twice about whether or not you do it; instead, you do it because x comes after y all the time.

2. The habit of the habit is more important than the habit itself.

Because the goal is for your habit to become something you do without even thinking, there can be no excuses for not doing it. No “Well I had a late night” or “I’ll do it tomorrow” or my favorite (and most often-used) “I just don’t feel like it right now.” The new habit you’re trying to create might be doing a particular something once a week, or three times a week, or every day, but whatever interval you decide said activity should be done, you must keep to that interval. Even if you’re phoning it in, a half-hearted effort is better for habit-keeping than no effort at all.

However, Rubin recognizes that there are days or weeks when your habit might not be appealing/practical or you’re out of your usual routine (like if your habit is exercise but you have the flu or are on vacation). In those instances, she says (1) Anything is better than nothing. If you’re sick and can’t work out, at least do something fitness-related during the time you would’ve spend working out so that you’re not completely getting off course. (2) If you’re going to be out of your usual routine, it would be better to decide ahead of time that you’re going to take a break from your habits, than to half-heartedly attempt to keep your habits up, only to fail miserably. Think about anytime you tried to bring homework on vacation. Did it ever get touched? I’m guessing no.

3. You have to create habits that fit with your personality.

This is the one aspect of creating and keeping habits that has always tripped me up. One area I’ve frequently tried to get better at is cleaning my house on a regular basis. Every so often, I would be inspired by someone who loved cleaning to adopt their overly ambitious Monthly Cleaning Schedule–or to at least create one of my own that was a little more manageable for my I Hate Cleaning personality.

Everything would go well for about a week. My house would be clean, I’d be motivated, and things were looking up. Then that second week, without fail, I’d give up on that plan whenever Bathroom day came along. (I really dislike cleaning bathrooms.)

Was I just doomed to the monthly cycle of letting my house get filthy and then binge cleaning? Was I just a person incapable of establishing any semblance of routine?

Rubin’s book helped me realize that I am a spontaneous person and almost all of my (non-parenting) decisions each day are based on “What I Feel Like Doing.” So then, if I wanted to establish a habit of cleaning my house, I had to devise a habit that would incorporate my spontaneity, instead of work against it.


Which leads me to:

My Habit of Cleaning for 5 Minutes Every Day

After reading Rubin’s book, I decided to make my goal stupid easy, because if I made it harder, it would never get off the ground with my habit-resistant personality. So my habit would be FIVE minutes of cleaning ANYTHING I felt like cleaning. No schedule, no rules, other than I had to clean for five minutes, every single day.

Out of that decision evolved our current morning routine. We had been in a funk where I’d let the girls watch iPad/phone while I drank a cup of coffee when we got up, but starting the day out on that slothful note gave our whole day a slothful feel. As I started to clean for five minutes in the morning, I realized that my cleaning time would be a great time for the girls to watch iPad/phone, so I started having them eat breakfast and get dressed first thing in the morning. They were more motivated for those things because of the reward of technology afterward, and we started our day out on the right foot.

While the girls were watching shows, I’d unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher, load the dirty breakfast dishes, wipe down the counters, and clean for five minutes. I always set a timer. Some days, I don’t feel like cleaning so I choose something super easy (like wiping down the toaster or our stainless steel garbage can), set the timer for 5 minutes, and am down the moment that buzzer goes off. Other days, I work until the buzzer goes off, and then finish the task I’m on. On the rare days I feel motivated or Hubs is watching the kids, I spend 15-45 minutes cleaning (like mopping the floors–can’t do that in five minutes). But I am happy to say that most cleaning chores can be accomplished in 5-10 minutes, even if it means breaking them down into smaller parts (for example, cleaning the bathroom sink and toilet one day, cleaning the tub the next).

The result of this has been two-fold:

My house is cleaner on a more regular basis.

Is everything clean all the time? Nope. But it’s cleaner than it was before AND cleaning no longer stresses me out. Best part? I don’t dread cleaning bathrooms anymore! Because I know that when that 5-minute timer goes off, I can be done cleaning if I want–no guilt.

My daily routine has taken shape.

For a loooong time, I have wanted a more consistent daily routine but was at a complete loss for how to create one that would allow for my spontaneous personality. As I started being consistent with this simple morning routine, I had insight and felt empowered to be more consistent with the rest of our day. I limit the girls’ technology time more, I don’t squander time on Facebook or Instagram as much, and I’m no longer trying to clean during naptime or while the girls are destroying things in another part of the house (seriously, iPad/phone time is the only thing that will immobilize them).

Since my personality is still powered a lot by what I “feel like doing,” I haven’t been 100% consistent with this routine. BUT regardless if I skip a day, I just get back on it the next day, or I find five minutes later in my day to clean. Remember, “the habit of the habit is more important than the habit itself!”

Do I think this routine would work for anyone? Yes and no.

Yes, I think that it’s simple enough anyone could put it into practice. I’m guessing that most people eat breakfast, and probably have an extra 5 minutes to clean something quickly.

No, this isn’t the only way to establish a habit of cleaning more consistently, or of starting your day out. Routines and habits are as plentiful as people, and as I learned reading Rubin’s book, you have to make sure your habits suit you, your personality, and your lifestyle in order for them to last the test of time.

Hope you enjoyed this window into my world! If you want to stay more up-to-date than just my limited blog posts, follow me on Instagram.

Worth noting.

13 Aug

Even though I’m really enjoying my relaxing weekends, it really doesn’t bode well for the blog. I mean, you guys don’t want to hear about how much I didn’t do every single post. But here are a couple of things that are {somewhat} notable:

1) Watched the entire first season of Downton Abbey. I had heard how awesome this show was from fellow bloggers and friends so when I saw it in Redbox, I snagged it. And I really enjoyed it. Now I’m scheming on how to watch Season 2.

2) Watched Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime. It is one of my absolute favorite shows of all time. And I am so thankful that it’s on during the summer when Bones and NCIS aren’t. I don’t know how I would survive the summer without at least one weekly show that I die for.

 

3) Veered from my cleaner eating habits. I ate Taco Bell for dinner Friday, Chinese for dinner Saturday and McDonald’s for lunch Sunday. But enough’s enough. Back on the horse today.

4) I went on my first bike ride since the beginning of marathon training. Travis and I got caught in a downpour and hid under a tree. At first, it was an adventure. Then, when the tree got saturated and stopped protecting us, it was just kind of irritating. But it was fun to ride home through all the puddles!

5) Got really sad watching the men’s Olympic marathon. (Spoiler alert) Ryan Hall seems like a such a great, down-to-earth guy and I really respect the way he involves God in his training, so seeing him have to drop out so soon was really sad. It’s also sad that Abdi Abdirahman had to drop out, but I know less about him so it didn’t affect me as much. But YAY MEB KEFLEZIGHI!!! I was SO excited to see that he came back from being in something like 10th place to being 4th. I told Travis that if the course had been longer, I think Meb would’ve been able to come in 3rd. But alas, no medals for Americans in the marathon this year.

6) I got ambitious yesterday and deep-cleaned my bathroom. Even though I really dislike cleaning, I love things being clean. If I ever have extra income burning a hole in my pocket, I would consider hiring a maid. (And I’ve already suggested to Travis that when we try to sell our house, we have a cleaning service come clean the house for me.)

And that’s all that’s worth telling you about!

I realized last week that I haven’t posted my thoughts on my new Garmin yet so stay tuned for that sometime soon…

The Cheap Way to Clean Your Wedding Rings

25 Jun

{While I’m off RV-ing around Alaska, please enjoy these posts from the archives and random thoughts library of Life, Really.}

Travis picked out my engagement and wedding rings all by himself. I told him that I wanted a diamond (as opposed to a gemstone) but he did the rest.

I’ll be honest – even though I loved it, it wasn’t what I would’ve picked. I had visions of a princess-cut diamond on a plain band for the engagement ring, and an eternity band for the wedding ring.

But I loved the thought that Travis put into the rings – he wanted to get me something that wasn’t really traditional (like what I was picturing) and went to about 10 different ring shops to find exactly what he wanted. He knew that I usually wear small, simple jewelry and wanted to get a smaller, high-quality diamond that would really sparkle, instead of a bigger, lower-quality diamond. He also told me later that he chose a round-cut diamond because apparently, they catch the light better than princess-cut. (Who knew?)

Travis actually bought my engagement and wedding rings together because the wedding ring is a ‘shadow band’. It looks exactly like the engagement ring, only smaller. Travis told me after we were engaged that he thought about giving me the wedding ring (with the smaller diamond) first as a joke, but then realized it probably wouldn’t be funny. (Good call.) And to this day, the cost of my rings is a secret.

We bought Travis’ wedding ring from the same jeweler (white gold, very plain band) and had our wedding date engraved on the inside of our rings (I figured that would give Travis an easy way to remember the date! just kidding). We also got ring cleaner solution with a handy little dipper thing – I could just put my rings (which I got soldered together) onto the dipper thing,  plunge it into the liquid, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, and voila! good as new.

Well, the first month we lived in Boulder, I ended up dumping that solution out all over our bathroom. I’ve looked for the same thing at Walmart and such stores but I’m pretty sure I’d have to go to a real jewelry store to get it (and actually, I think I have done that but they didn’t have the same thing). The jeweler that Travis bought the rings from will do free cleanings but they’re a local jeweler so no dice when we moved to Colorado.

With the design of my ring especially, it needs to be cleaned every couple of months, bare minimum. So what’s a girl who spilled her ring cleaning solution to do?

Use toothpaste. 

Seriously.

{Disclaimer: Some people say that toothpaste will hurt gold but I’ve been using it for 4 years and my ring looks fine. Other alternatives are dishwasher detergent or Windex.}

All of my old toothbrushes (before I got an electric one) became ring cleaning brushes. The toothbrushes work great for getting into the nooks and crannies of my ring and around the diamond, and the toothpaste makes the diamond sparkle like new.

Put a little bit of toothpaste on your toothbrush, add a little warm water and brush away.

Then rinse it with warm/hot water, dry it and voila! Good as new.

{Side note: In the picture above, you can see the aftermath of me slamming my middle finger in our closet door. It took a couple months for that to grow out!}

How do you clean your jewelry?

Training Recap: 2/27 – 3/4

5 Mar

Yesterday, after we got home from church, I turned on my Harry Potter audiobook and deep cleaned our kitchen. The book kept me entertained enough that I powered through cleaning the microwave, refrigerator, freezer, the front of our cabinets, and the OVEN (that has needed to be done since we moved in 3.5 years ago). Now whenever I use the oven, I will think about the first lesson that Hagrid taught at Hogwart’s about Hippogriffs, because that was the story plot as I fumigated the kitchen with oven cleaner. (Am I the only one who can remember stuff like that?)

Even though I really dislike the act of cleaning, I love the aftermath. A clean house just makes me happy.

What else makes me happy is my second full week of marathon training. Life threw a few curveballs of busyness last week but I fought back.

Monday: 1.5 mile run on track (18:45, 12:30/mile)

This was when I almost got killed by brussel sprouts.

Tuesday: 3.6 mile tempo run (40:09, 10:54/mile)

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 4 mile run – 3 miles moderate (33:00, 11:00/mile), 1 mile time trial (9:42)

I wanted to do a speed workout this night, but since my long run on Saturday was going to be a tough one, I decided to do most of the run easy, and then do a 1 mile time trial. I definitely could have gone faster but I had to slow down for a car or two, and I was feeling some acid reflux. After Monday, I was still a little spooked. I seriously need to start eating Tums before each and every run I go on. But I feel like 9:42 is a good starting point.

Friday: 50 min P90X Yoga

Saturday: 7.94 mile hilly long run (1:27:27, 11:00/mile)

Sunday: 10 mile bike ride (45 min)

Finally, I got to ride my bike outside! It was 60* yesterday and sunny. It felt just like spring. I’m loving every minute of it and ignoring the Debbie Downers who keep telling me that March is usually Colorado’s snowiest month. A girl can dream, right?

Riding outside also means that I got to test out my new bike setup. The verdict is: meh. The seat was comfortable enough for 10 miles but I can’t envision me doing 40-50 miles on it. And for some reason, my back still really hurt after 5 miles. We took a break and I could barely stand up straight. If any of you out there know more about bikes than I do, is that just my back needing to get used to that, or is my bike fitted incorrectly?

Total Running Miles: 17.16

………………………

Finally, can I just say that this is the most annoying ad EVER?

The lady on the right sneezes and blows the entire calendar over. What’s so annoying is that you have to wait for the ad to run before you can do anything. Ugh. I would have expect that such a craptastic display of marketing ingenuity would come from Aetna. Have I ever told you how much I hate them?

And on that note, Monday is over! I have a work meeting tomorrow from 7 am to 7 pm so I probably won’t post. But it’s not that bad because they’re feeding us breakfast, lunch and dinner, AND since I’m a contractor and can only work 40 hours a week, I get to jet early on Friday. I won’t argue with that!

Five Randos

13 Jan

1. I had my second physical therapy appointment this morning. I was dreading it because I thought I was going to be get poked with needles (I even had a blog post title of “Pins and Needles” thought up). But luckily, since I told the therapist that my lower back felt fine still, he said he would leave it alone. Woohoo!

But I still had plenty of unpleasantness to deal with. I told him that my upper back between my shoulder blades was still sore/tight so he cracked that area again, along with my neck, and then proceeded to massage/poke/pull my shoulder and upper back tendons as I turned my head to one side, then the other. That hurt. A lot. Not like the sharp pain of a needle but a deep muscle-y pain – like how your tight IT band feels when you massage when it with a foam roller. My shoulders are sore now, which he said might happen.

He also showed me some exercises I could do to strengthen my lower back and hips. I’ll demonstrate and post them soon, since they’re beneficial for all runners/athletes.

What I’ll demonstrate now is how to lower your keyboard:

With a keyboard tray! It took me until this morning to realize I could push the tray in (I just had it installed yesterday). Before, it was sticking out from the desk by about 8 inches. At that rate, I was going to need glasses from squinting.

Anyway, lowering my keyboard will prevent me from shrugging my shoulders so much – your upper arms should be perpendicular to the floor when sitting at your desk.

2. Lots of TV time this weekend. Tomorrow is the Olympic Marathon Trials coverage (2-4 pm MST – we’re the same as central) and the Broncos game. Go Tebow! I might have to go buy a Broncos shirt tonight…

Sunday, I will be watching My Fair Wedding because fellow blogger Danica’s wedding will be on. It’ll be cool to finally see everything she hasn’t been able to show on her blog.

But I’ll balance that TV time out with two runs – my long run of 7 miles on Saturday and my tempo run of 4 miles on Sunday (moved from yesterday because I ate too much for dinner and would have puked if I tried to run…one of those days).

3. I seem to be a running anomaly. I’ve input several times into the McMillan Running Calculator: my half marathon PR back in 2007, my most recent 5K time, and my most-likely-never-to-be-duplicated 5 mile run in the Denver RnR Half Mary Relay. Those times are all over the board and produce quite the varied results.

With the 3 different times, my predicted marathon finish time could be (respectively):

5:17:58

5:20:24

4:54:08

I’ll take the last one, thankyouverymuch.

Also according to the calculator, my long runs should be run at a pace around 12:45 to 13:15 per mile. Lately, I’ve been comfortably running, without challenge, an easy pace of 11:15/mile for my long runs. But apparently, that should be the pace for my tempo intervals, which I’ve been running at a 9:55 or 10:00 pace (those paces aren’t even on the chart).

So I’ve concluded that while the running calculators may give me a ballpark of +/- 30 minutes for my marathon time, I should just use my long runs as a judge for my goals (and obviously the runs that are closer to the marathon distance, not the 8 miler I just did last Saturday). I’m also planning on doing Yasso 800s for my speedwork during Weeks 10-16 of my marathon training plan. It’d be cool if it really works to predict your marathon time (click the link to read more details).

4. I’ve been waiting for Friday all week long. Regardless, when I woke up this morning, I was surprised that it was already Friday. Which means I have to clean my house because we’re having people over for the game tomorrow.

5a. My favorite lunch as of late has been big salads, thanks to my friends leafy romaine lettuce and Caesar croutons. If it weren’t for those two, I wouldn’t be eating salads. They have changed my life. (For some reason, I get sick of spinach every now and again and won’t eat it to save my life…unless it’s in a smoothie.)

Yeah, I scrimped a little too much on the lettuce for that salad… but I also eat the lettuce first and this was halfway through the salad.

5b. We got new dinnerware for Christmas from my parents. The dishes we got for our wedding were really cute ones from Target but since I am a dish-breaker by trade, we only had 4 big plates left and all of our bowls (minus 2) had giant chips out of them. We are really enjoying our new dishes. Thanks Mom and Dad!

They are the Platzgraff Java pattern.

It’s even prettier in person. They’re still on sale at Shopko if you need new dishes!

What’s your favorite thing for lunch? Do the running calculators predict your speeds correctly?

Rest, finally.

22 Nov

Well friends, I finally got my restful weekend. Even though elk hunting back in October was supposed to be the end of the busyness, it wasn’t really. We still had a bunch of crap great stuff to keep us busy on the weekends, like butchering and vacuum-sealing animals, running errands, and fun stuff like dinner with friends and volunteering.

So when I had a whole Saturday with nothing planned and a Sunday with only church and dinner with friends (that ended up being postponed because one of them got sick), I saw my chance. A weekend of rest. 

I had to act fast. I made sure to ask Travis what he had planned, just in case he was staging Antelope Butchering Part 22 and expecting my willing participation. (Yes, we still.have.meat.to.cut.up. Will it ever end?!?!)

Once I was relieved to know that my vacuum-sealing skillz would not be needed, I then decided to figure out the bare minimum of things I had to accomplish on the weekend, in order to maximum the amount of time my butt could be glued to the couch.

I figured I needed to clean our house, go grocery shopping and get my two workouts in (5 mile run one day, 60 min cross-training + strength another). I probably would have just ditched the house cleaning, except I thought we were having dinner guests Sunday night, and my parents are coming into town today! I also only buy enough produce to last us a week and I can’t not have apples and bananas to eat for snacks, so grocery shopping is also necessary.

I decided to grocery shop on Saturday (because everyone and their Grandma goes to the grocery store on Sunday) and clean on Sunday (because dog hair mysteriously appears 30 seconds after I clean anything so it’s best to leave as little time as possible between when you clean and when guests arrive).

Anyway, my plan worked perfectly. Friday after work, I did a quick 3 mile tempo run and then promptly did nothing else for the rest of the evening besides drink wine and watch TV.

Saturday, I didn’t get to sleep in (because Katy got up at 6:45 and groaned at me to feed her) but I didn’t expect to (because Katy does that every morning) and actually read for a couple hours. I was able to finish The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg before it was due at the library. I really enjoyed it. But around 8:30, I fell asleep on the couch and at 9:30, I went back to bed. 🙂 Travis and I finally got up at 10:30.

Then I had breakfast, read some more, called my mom and friend Amy who’s living in California right now, tided up the office, typed up my notes from another library book (Having a Mary Spirit by Joanna Weaver – also good), went on a run with Travis and the pooches, and then Travis and I went out to eat at Pho Fusion, where I tried Pho for the first time. It was good but meh in my book. I’m not that much of a soup person and I don’t really like cabbage or celery so it’s probably just my weird quirks.

After dinner, Travis and I went to the grocery store and bought food for the week and Thanksgiving. It’s so much more fun going to the store when Travis comes with! We bought some gummy bears (for me) and ice cream (for him) to enjoy while watching Yogi Bear. I love, love, love animated movies so whenever I have the chance to rent a movie without Travis’ input, that’s what I usually choose. It was a cute movie – not my favorite, but I laughed a lot.

Sunday, we went to church, ate lunch and then I laid on the couch watching football for a little while. When Travis got up to go do stuff, I decided I should probably get started on laundry  and cleaning. Around 5, I went swimming and did yoga. After that, I finished cleaning, finished almost all of the laundry, and went to bed around 10.

Overall, it was a very nice weekend. I don’t think I could handle an entire weekend of doing absolutely nothing – I like having a balance between rest and productivity.

I am really looking forward to the holiday weekend – great food, great time with my parents, and lots of relaxing!

Survival of the Busiest

21 Oct

Well, I survived. Not only elk hunting, but also the season of busyness that I thought would never end. But it has ended. Well, sort of. I just realized this morning that I have coffee with Cathy tomorrow morning and then a girls’ night tomorrow morning (let the eating commence!), and then Sunday morning, I’m doing lights, plus we have a church meeting at night. Then there’s the giant pile of dirty, stinky clothes that Katy burrowed into last night instead of sleeping on her dog bed. And the rest of the house is a mess.

Ah, open weekend – you still elude me.

Seriously, every time over the past couple of months when I thought I had an open weekend and was poised to bask in its gloriousness under a blanket on the couch, something happened to make it not-so-restful. The weekend I was swore I was going to do nothing was eaten up by antelope butchering. Then my darn obsession with productivity robbed me of another weekend. And here I am, after 5 months of frazzled activity and constant plans, completely burnt out.

Last night was the tipping point. I came home from work, already in a bad mood and completely exhausted. Last week had been a frenetic blur of cooking, baking, church meetings, and packing. Then elk hunting was surprisingly exhausting. I was ready to collapse onto the couch in a coma and not move for the next 4 hours.

Instead, I came home to cook dinner and vacuum seal elk meat all night. {Side note: I realize this is a part of hunting and because I enjoy elk meat so much, I try to remind myself that this is worth it. And my in-laws were very considerate of my anal-retentiveness. But alas, tired people [moi] are not rational people.} The combination of Chardonnay, raw meat everywhere, piles of laundry, unpacked bags, more piles of laundry, blood on the kitchen floor and carpet, every dish I own being used for butchering, and knowing I had to go back to work in the morning culminated with me pretty much having a meltdown. No more Mr. Nice Guy. When I ran out of vacuum seal bags 15 minutes before Target closed, I did a little happy dance inside, snippily refused to go buy more and instead, cleaned up my sealing mess and went to bed. If they needed my help, too damn bad.

I was hoping that I’d wake up this morning in a better mood. Nope, still bitchy. I am just done. Don’t ask me for anything because all you’ll get is a black eye. You want coffee? Get it yourself. You need clean clothes? Wash them yourself. You need a lunch? Go buy one yourself. I don’t care anymore. Leave me alone or I will rage on you.

I think it’s safe to say that I need a break.

But I’m torn. Part of the reason for my mental breakdown is that my house is in complete disarray. I do not function well when things are messy. But do I compromise the time I could have on the couch for cleaning? Or do I blow off the cleaning for the sake of relaxation, only to be bothered by the mess all weekend?

My thought is to relax tonight, do laundry tomorrow, and clean on Sunday. I would say that I should do everything tonight so that I’ll have the weekend open but I’ve discovered that my Work Now, Play Later philosophy is the reason why I usually end up with no time to relax. What’s better than sitting down with some hot tea and a good book in a clean room?, I reason.  The problem is, I usually end up finding just one more thing to do here, one more thing there, and before I know it, the day is over and all I’ve done is work.

Up next: Elk Hunting Extravaganza

Do you like to Work Now, Play Later or Play Now, Work Later?

How do you keep from being a bitch when you’re stressed out?