Several years ago, I decided to hire someone to clean my house. At the time, my days were a blur of busy as I spent my brain and my body making a growing business go. When I came home at night and collapsed into my chair after making dinner, I would think, “I need to clean the house.” Then, I would turn on the television and obsess about how I really needed to get up and vacuum while my body rejected any idea of movement. When I woke up in the morning, I would think, “I should have cleaned the house last night” as I showered. When I got to work, I would think, “When I get home, I’ll clean the house.”
The rubble of “shoulds” and “woulds” and broken promises filled the corners of my brain. It pushed thoughts of beauty and joy and creativity and fun out my ears. How could I consider being creative and having fun when I couldn’t even make the time to clean my house?
Then, I realized that I could find someone to clean the house. I was working enough to afford it. Other people did it all the time.
I asked a friend for a name of a cleaning person. She gave me Bettina’s phone number. Bettina loved to clean – I mean, looooooooooooooovvvvved it. I had to set a time limit on how long she could spend cleaning the house every other week. Otherwise, I would have come home to find her deep-cleaning every room in my house.
Sigh. I miss her so much.
Beyond my yearning for Bettina, when she started cleaning the house every other week, my life opened up.
I could see again.
Instead of sitting and thinking I needed to vacuum or dust or clean the toilets, I could relax. My brain cleared. I bet I gained ten hours a week by hiring her and shutting up that little voice in my head that screamed “You need to get up and clean the toilets! And vacuum! And dust!!” every time I sat down to relax and recover from the stress of the day.
Freeing up my thoughts from the guilty “I need to clean” mantra allowed my brain to get creative with my business, my writing, my knitting and other parts of my household. My garden became beautiful again. I preserved fruit, making jellies and jams. I started knitting which opened up my life to designing knitting patterns and teaching knitting classes. I was able to creatively delve into the data I harvested from my business, allowing us to grow even more.
Transferring unavoidable but unpleasant (to you) duties to another person allows you to free both your body and your brain from the exhaustion of guilt.
That transference of those duties is what people mean when they recommend that you “set up a system” within your business.
The system of house cleaning is one which is easily transferred. Everyone understands (with perhaps the exception of my sixteen year old nephew) what needs to happen to clean a house. The equipment is pretty universal (mops, brooms, vacuums, dust rags, buckets, cleansers). However, my house had quirks. The stainless steel refrigerator had to be cleaned with a special cleanser which wouldn’t scratch the surface. I like doing laundry, so we removed that from the list. Bettina needed a special cleanser for the hardwood floors, so I purchased a bottle and left it on my cleaning supply shelf.
By setting up a system with Bettina, I was able to walk into a house which smelled of lemon and cedar once every other week. I relaxed without guilt and grew my business and my creativity.
Plus, networking by having someone over for cocktails is easier when you’re not worried about your dusty, dirty home.
When I invested a hundred dollars every couple of weeks, I added hours of creativity and energy to my thriving business – most probably generating somewhere around five hundred dollars in value each time she cleaned the house. (Plus, I supported another small business person. Win-win!)
Each moment you free from guilt about house cleaning (or filing or invoicing clients or putting together the cash box for the festival next weekend) is a moment you can devote to your art – which is what you sell! All the filing in the world won’t create another painting or bake your special pie.
Set up a system, transfer that duty to another person, and clear that rubble out of your brain.
You’ll be amazed at what you uncover.
Play With the Housewyfe