It’s a new day, ripe with promise and potential … until I walk into the kitchen. Dishes in the sink, counters dotted with dirty dishes and crumbs, and a cluttered table converge to sing a taunting chorus, “You can’t even keep the kitchen clean, how can you accomplish anything today!”
The strains of their tune causes my motivation to plunge to the depths where my only response is to use the messy kitchen as my excuse for another unproductive day.
Organizing the kitchen without being overwhelmed
The overwhelm knocks me off of my game and renders my to-do list unattainable.
I can’t prep dinner until I unload and load the dishwasher, wipe the counters, and find the recipe. Do I even have thyme in the spice cupboard for the soup? I go to the narrow pull-out cupboard of spices and decide then and there that it is time to win a battle.
I remove unalphabetized spices from the cupboard, meanwhile telling the voices in my head to be quiet; I know I don’t have time for this! But I need a win! The thought strikes me that squelching the noisy refrain from the clutter does not require a weekend of organizing and cleaning. I can win this battle one decision at a time, in just 15 minute increments at a time.
And so I record a victory over the spice cupboard! Now I open the spice drawer and I smile. I smile that I can find what I want. I smile at the homemade spice labels that I commissioned my daughter to make. Such a simple accomplishment but it’s huge for my mindset!
I just needed a win. The next day I silence the noise in the cupboard that houses the varying bottles of olive oil. Another win. I will continue to build on this and soon the kitchen will motivate me instead of overwhelm me.
As I bask in my two wins I realize that once the kitchen is a motivator instead of a killjoy I can apply this to other areas of my home and life. Some momentum in the kitchen will spill over to the rest of my responsibilities and perhaps soon I will feel able to tackle the things that I want to do instead of being overwhelmed by all the things I need to do.
One Small Win: For me, the way out from under overwhelmed is to claim one win and allow that to carry me forward. Who knew that one of the kindest things I’ve ever done for myself was to clean out the spice cupboard?
You can read more from Bethany Howard at bethanyhoward.com. She writes about finding fuel for joy and growth in the details of the daily. Her greatest leadership exercise has been her roles as wife and mom to three. She is a graduate of Leverage: The Speaker Conference.
The number one favorite of my all time favorite kitchen tips? Clear off your counters. Here are my tips to enlarging your kitchen by cleaning off you counters.
Reclaim some counter space. The most valuable real estate in your entire house is the space on your counter. There should be nothing on the counter that doesn’t either: 1. Work for you on a regular basis (i.e. My coffee maker sees more action than the funnel cake stand at a county fair, so it deserves a place on the counter. My food processor I only use once a week or so. It has not earned the right to be on the counter.) Or 2. Make you happy to look at.
On a regular basis I have to fight with my “stuff” to keep it off the counter. I promise you, clutter and appliance migrate there in the middle of the night. I am constantly waging a battle to keep my counters cleared.
Here is a list of things that have not earned the right to be there (but keep trying to sneak their way on):
Kid’s school projects
Dishes that just don’t want to get put away
Things that have earned the right to be on my counter:
Canisters (they are not just decorative, they hold everyday essentials like coffee filters, packets of sweetener, and dog treats.)
Toaster Oven (so we don’t need to fire up the big over very often,)
A container of frequently-used utensils
A butcher block of knives
Your use of counter space is going to be different than mine, but you get the idea – be thoughtful about what you give your permission to live on your counter.
Another great counter space saver is to see what you can have mounted under your cabinets or on your walls. For the longest time, I had a vertical paper towel rack that sat on the counter. It was a constant frustration to me that it took up so much space. Then one day it occurred to me that just because our house wasn’t built with an under-counter towel rack, didn’t mean I couldn’t do the job myself, (or bribe my cute husband to do it with a plateful of chocolate chip cookies.) I also have a microwave and CD player/radio mounted under my cabinets to save space.
And on my walls? I have a very cute set of stainless steel measuring spoons and a coffee scoop. I use them every day, they look great on the walls, and everyone in my house knows where to put them away.
I am constantly looking for those eleusive kitchen tips to make my kitchen life run smoother. Now it’s your turn: Tell me your favorite kitchen tips – whether it be for shopping, unpacking your groceries, cooking, cleaning, meal planning, meal planning calendars, anything! One of my lucky commenters will win the (yet to be released!)Creative Slow-Cooker Meals by Cheryl Moeller. You know I’m a HUGE fan of the Slow Cooker – so I know you will just LOVE this creative book!
Here are the kitchen tips you’ll get from Cheryl’s Book
Creative Slow-Cooker Meals: Use Two Slow Cookers for Tasty and Easy Dinners comes a new kind of cookbook and a new attitude toward planning meals. With an eye toward the whole menu, not just part of it, columnist Cheryl Moeller teaches cooks to use two crockpots to easily create healthy, homemade dinners.
Don’t worry about your dinner being reduced to a mushy stew. Each of the more than 200 recipes has been taste-tested at Cheryl’s table. Join the Moeller family as you dig into:
• Harvest-time Halibut Chowder
• Salmon and Gingered Carrots
• Mediterranean Rice Pilaf
• Indian Chicken Curry
• Apricot-Pistachio Bread
• Shrimp Creole
• Rhubarb Crisp
… and many more!