Integrity: Being true to yourself. To honour your own needs.
Do you know your tipping point? You know, that point where the mess goes from "OK, I can deal with that later," to "omigodwhathappenedherewhatamesswheredoIbegin?"
Aby Garvey calls this knowing your comfort zone. It is a continuum and it can be different for different areas of the house. It can be different for different seasons of our lives. (Bionicles and Polly Pockets used to throw parties with Lego in my living room. Used to. No more! (I was sitting here thinking how great that was when I glanced over into the living room and saw jackets, shoes, backpacks, and various bits of electronics.....)
The continuum ranges from "very cluttered" to "magazine ready." Let me illustrate, using my own kitchen table.
This is how the table looks this morning. (Those are chips in the laminate--not blobs of chocolate!) These things are here because we're sanding and painting our back entry way which is just to the left of this photo. Hubs and I ate together here last night. The kids ate in their rooms. (sad face.)
There's one more spot on the continuum: Magazine Ready.
There's no photo of the table "magazine ready" because unless a magazine actually comes to my home to shoot it, it won't ever be "magazine ready." And that's totally fine with me. I don't need that kind of pressure on me. (No one does.)
My personal comfort zone? As far as the kitchen table goes, somewhere between "real life" and "company ready" is where I like it to be.
There is another area of my kitchen, though, where my standards are higher. Unfortunately, it is also more difficult to keep clean and tidy.
My counter. Specifically, the area beside my kitchen sink. (We don't have a dishwasher.) When this area is out of sorts, it can cause me to feel paralysed. Quite quickly, I can fall into the pit of thinking "there's no use cleaning up." (When my kids were littles and my whole house looked something like this, everywhere, all at once, it was difficult to believe it would ever change. The paralysis and hopelessness were intense at times. I have, fortunately, learned to cope with those feelings and I'll talk about that later in this series.) But when this area looks like this: I can still get anxious.
When it is "company ready" all is right with the world and I feel intense satisfaction. I smile. I'm cheerful. (But don't ask me to make you a sandwich.)
Mary Starns Clark, in her book, The House that Cleans Itself, calls an area like this: one that causes an intense emotional reaction, your Home Based Zone. It could be anything. The area under your bed, perhaps. A bathroom. Papers.
It helps to know what it is: that way you can prioritize your time and effort. Looking after it honours yourself and your standards. Looking after it is a way of looking after yourself. And that's important. More important than a "magazine ready" house.
What's your "home based zone?"
Do you know your clutter comfort zone for each area of your house?
PS: This series is roughly based on what I learned in a course called "The Secrets of Staying Organized" by Aby Garvey at Simplify 101. It is being offered again in November and it is currently on sale. I am not being compensated by Simplify 101 for this series--in fact, I doubt they even know I'm doing it. But I just wanted you to know in case you're interested.
ETA: You can catch all the posts in the series here.