Succeeding at the Micro Level

I hate to clean.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

And last summer and fall were packed with work for me. A real blessing. But it meant I was never getting around to cleaning our house. In my limited time off, cleaning was the last thing I wanted to do.

Now, Les and I are both neat people. Everything gets put away in its place daily. There are some stacks of clutter, usually piles of something we hope to get back to reading or doing something with someday. But they are neat stacks.

But cleaning isn’t the same as being neat. I hate cleaning. Dusting, especially. And so as the work piled up last year, it was easy to ignore the dust rhinos tumbling across the furniture, the grime on the kitchen floors, the rings forming in the toilet bowls.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Finally I had to do something. Two months ago, I broke down and created a micro-cleaning schedule. Every day of the month has a task to complete. I made the tasks small enough (hence, the “micro” designation) that I could do them in a few enough minutes that I wouldn’t resent it. So dusting our bedroom takes four days but the living room with fewer things on the surfaces, I dust in one day.

Maybe you’re appalled that that the house only gets dusted once a month. But I refuse to be ashamed. It’s more than was getting done in the fall! It helps that we have no pets or children. Some other chores get done twice a month (and maybe again if company is coming).

A portion of the real list!

I’ve kept to the schedule for two months now. The weird thing is that I’ve found myself doing extra cleaning that’s not even on the list. When a day’s task takes only five minutes, it seems easy to take a few moments more to  wipe down mini blinds or clean some baseboards.

It’s also taught me a lesson for all of life:

I am easily overwhelmed when a task or decision seems too big.

The solution might be to do what I did with the cleaning:

  • Break it down into micro-bites .
  • Take the first bite, make a start.
  • Stay on schedule. (But even when I was away for five days last week, I was able to catch up quickly, because the daily cleaning quotas aren’t overwhelming.)
Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash

What tasks—or dreams—are you putting off because you’re overwhelmed?

Can you break it down into bite-sized pieces and get a start on it?

You might not get to the finish line at a frantic clip, but you will get off the starting block. And that’s where victory begins.




12 thoughts on “Succeeding at the Micro Level”

  1. Hi Carol,

    Thank you for this blog about making the time to do task so you don’t get overwhelmed.


    Carrol Grizzle

  2. Thanks for this Carol. I do like an organized and clean house, but I hate taking hours at a time to clean. These micro-bites are a great idea, and I’m going to come up with my own list. There are many things I’d rather be doing, but feel guilty if the housework is done. This should help. Thanks!

  3. On the bright side, the older you get, the less dirt and clutter matters. If I had nothing else to do, I would clean and straighten, neatness being part of my DNA. I can still make choices, however, and right now I’m choosing to focus on other tasks and let dirt have its day. Dirt has not killed us yet. But PS—some areas MUST be kept clean–i.e., bathrooms and kitchen sinks. : )

  4. I totally relate to this article Carol. There’s always something I’d rather do than clean! Having company is always my best incentive to do a good cleaning. But I think I will put a list like yours together and give your plan a try. Thanks.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, Ruth! There are just so many things we would rather do than clean! But I do like the result. I hope a schedule like this will help you as much as it has me.

  5. I wish I had someone else to keep track of my to-do list and just show me one at a time, so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed before even starting on that one first thing. I’ve just made up a daily chore schedule that has made a big difference in our house that isn’t overwhelming. Baby steps.

    • To-do lists can be a curse! I hope your chore list continues to make a difference. I’ve completed almost four months of keeping my house clean in this way and it’s alleviated so much stress and guilt—and my house looks so much better!


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