I will admit that I have a horrible problem cleaning for extended periods of time. One part of this stems from my inability to pay attention to anything boring and the other is that when I am bored I have a tendency to be very distractible. Thus I will start cleaning the kitchen – say cleaning off the top of the fridge, I find a battery that belongs in the pantry and while there I see a dog leash that needs to be in the closet where my husband has left the book he just finished and that needs to be on the book shelf, which is disorganized so I start straightening it out… and “Oh, cool there is this book I thought I had lost”, and the next thing I know it is two hours later and I am sitting in the dinning room thumbing through a book from when I went through RCIA and the top of the fridge looks just like it did at the start…. minus one battery.
Three things I have found to be very simple and affective in helping this. First is to occupy my mind while my hands are working. This is amazingly simple. Audio books, the radio, listening to the children read their lessons, talking with my teen daughter. It all works. The goal is to make whatever I am listening to engaging enough that I don’t get lost wondering about something and end up on the computer reading about the crusades or some such thing.
The second magic bullet is a timer. I run a small home-based business writing code for websites. If you want to migrate a site over to a CMS, need an LMS, want a calendar or catalog on your website I’m your girl. Databases and custom PHP are my thing and there is always something new to learn. Typical to the nerd I am I hyper-focus. This means I sit down to write one or two little functions and four hours later I look up and say “Oh, crap, I haven’t started dinner. Did I have lunch? Did the children have lunch — where are the children?” The timer helps stop that, it also helps on the other end. If I have the timer set for 20 minutes I will actually stay in the kitchen cleaning off the top of the fridge… after all it is only 20 minutes and then I can do something more interesting.
Last, but not least by any means is the LIST. Lists are great for me. I like the feel of checking things off as they get done. I have lists of things that need done and lists of how to do thing. Some lists are long term others are “to do today” sorts of list. So cleaning the kitchen turns into printing out my “clean the kitchen checklist”, giving the eight-year-old his reading, and setting the timer for 20 minuets. I might not get the entire list down, but I will definitely do more than putting away one battery.