The Last Dish

Big jobs discourage me before I even start them.

By nature, I am a procrastinator. It’s so tempting to make the present moment easier by putting off chores and other stuff I’m supposed to do. I try to fight this tendency, because procrastinating only pretends to make life easier — in reality, it adds more stress than it’s worth.

My consistency leaves a good deal to be desired. One area where I struggle, enjoying great success one week and abject failure the next, is that portion of my kitchen that stands 35.75 inches above the floor: namely, the countertops. Well, and the sink, too. It is much too easy to leave the pots and pans next to the sink “just for a little while” and have them still sitting there, petrified mashed potato or soup residue stuck to the insides, two days later. Meanwhile I can’t work at the counter where the pans sit, so I crowd my next mixing or baking activity into the space between the rice canister and the bag of canned groceries that I neglected to put away yesterday.

Cookie sheets are the worst. They take up more than their fair share of acreage, and have to be moved from counter to stove to bar to breakfast table and then back to the counter, as I need my dwindling work space for other things. Sheesh, why do I put up with that instead of just washing the blasted things and putting them away? It’s just that by the time I finish mixing, shaping and baking five or six dozen cookies, I’m out of patience and energy and ready to march right out of that kitchen.

Ah, but sometimes I just roll up my sleeves and start washing. Going into “Energizer bunny” mode, I keep going and going until I finally get the last dish washed and set out to dry. It’s a lot of work, but after I have gotten thoroughly tired of all that mess, can’t you picture how beautiful a clear counter looks?

By now you’re probably thinking, Sheesh, this lady needs to get out more. Well, even going out is no fun when I know I will come home to a chaotic, depressing kitchen. A clean countertop both relaxes and inspires me. It takes me out of a drudgery / survival mindset, allowing me to actually enjoy cooking and other projects. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some way to have the kitchen counters clean every day, with less effort?

Well, of course there is! It’s a technique called “Clean Up As You Go,” and I started using it in self-defense as my Thanksgiving and Christmas and Kids-Coming-Home cooking threatened to become overwhelming. It’s pretty simple. Use a bowl to mix batter? As soon as it is empty, I just wash it. Once the first cookie sheet is cooled and the cookies removed, I wash that cookie sheet while the next one is still in the oven. As the last cookies bake, I put the mixer away and wipe the countertop. By the time the cookies are done, so is my work. Well, just about. Anyway, I can see the countertops.

I have noticed the same thing in other areas of life. It is way easier to keep up than to catch up. Whether it’s at work or study, life is smoother and more pleasant if I stay on top of things.

The same goes for my relationships with other people and with God. If I need to apologize or set something right, the time to do it is “right now.” Being around someone with an unreconciled offense hanging between us is as awkward as trying to cook around a pile of dirty dishes. It may seem hard in the moment, but as near as I can figure, keeping that promise or apologizing for that wrong actually improves my life, which procrastination promises but never gets around to doing.

Here’s to clear countertops and clear consciences, my double simple pleasure for the day. Today (Wednesday) I am linking up with Dayle at Simple Pleasures, where I always get a breath of fresh air.

On Tuesday I linked up with Jen and my Soli Deo Gloria friends over at Finding Heaven.

Thanks for reading!
Jan

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23 Responses to The Last Dish

  1. Jen Ferguson says:

    This is good. You know, sometimes the dread and fear of the task is honestly the biggest hurdle I have to face. But to realize that I am constantly dreading and constantly in a state of fear is much worse than just tackling the problem. Because, even if it doesn’t work out the way I want it to, at least I’m not living in fear anymore.

    Like

  2. Amy Sullivan says:

    Oh, something this procrastinator needed to hear!

    Like

  3. Christy says:

    As a procrastinator this was fabulous…you were speaking directly to this girl. You challenged me… I like that 🙂

    Like

  4. mjcache says:

    Keepin’ up rather than catchin’ up – great thought.

    Like

  5. kendal says:

    but…as i procrastinate, i’m doing great things – like reading your blog!!! you are right. cleaning up is better than catchingup. thanks for the insight today!

    Like

  6. Tiffini says:

    Counter tops and Conscience….I like it. I like a clean counter top too…and a clean conscience:) staying on top of things does make it easier for sure. Moves me to action…I’ve got a counter top to clean off:)

    Like

  7. Kathy Falley says:

    This is the8th home that we have purchased since 1981.So excited to finally have a newer home with a huge kitchen, and a lot of countertops and cabinets.So much to offer! So much to clean and orginize. Thank God for this and all blessings!

    Like

  8. Dayle says:

    I’m all for clean countertops.

    Like

  9. maria says:

    I live in a house where there is only a little counter space to cook for a family of five. I have learned the art of cleaning as you go…it was a painful lesson, but once learned, it has stayed with me.

    From a procrastinator to another, it is these challenges that make a difference.

    Be blessed,

    Maria -a housewife:)

    Like

  10. Jan says:

    Thanks, Maria! I love your “Tuesday Tea” post, by the way.

    Like

  11. Debbie says:

    Silly as it sounds, a clean surface like a counter top is my older daughter’s love language. She shows her love by cleaning them, and she feels sooooo loved when she walks into a kitchen with a spotless counter. I always made sure they were just that way when she got home from school because of it.

    Since she’s been away at college for the past three and a half years, I can admittedly get lax if I’m not careful.

    I greatly agree with you that keeping “it” clean, both physically and spiritually, is a simple pleasure!

    Like

  12. Michelle says:

    I loved this. I need to remember this when reading my bloggy friends/sisters.

    Like

  13. Trish says:

    This is very good!
    I loved the practical advice and the spiritual metaphor 🙂
    Keep up not catch up -yes indeed! I so agree with you!
    blessings..Trish

    Like

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