Life is a Dirty Kitchen Sink

Several years ago I read an article on house cleaning in which the author offered a proven method to getting into the “cleaning spirit”: start with the kitchen sink. The author reasoned that the sink was ground zero for cleaning an entire house; clean the sink, then move on to counters, then the stove, then the floor, and then the rest of the house.

The article was a bit quirky and fun to read, but I did not put much thought into it until I came to the point where I could not ignore the spatters, stains, and dusty bunnies any longer. At the time, I lived in a two-story house with too many rooms to figure out where to begin. I used to begin with my bedroom, but that almost always led to me re-arranging my closet and wasting most of the day without really doing anything. So on that day, I decided to try the article’s advice.

Before I could clean the sink I had to empty the pile of dirty dishes into the dish washer. After that, I scrubbed the sink until it was shiny and clean. I was (and still am) amazed at the instant feeling of accomplishment I felt over cleaning a sink. From there I moved on to the counters and the stove top, cleaning and scrubbing every inch of surface. I wiped down the oven and the fridge, and then swept the floor.

By early evening, I had cleaned most of the house AND cleaned more thoroughly than usual. The kitchen sink was the catalyst that motivated me to be productive. My task was not overwhelming because I began with something small and simple. That initial wave of accomplishment was my motivation to keep going. To this day, I still begin cleaning with the kitchen sink.

Humans are like dirty houses – we have many rooms and levels that make up who we are. Too often, we fail when we try to clean up our houses because we seek the whole picture and get overwhelmed at trying to do everything at one time. Adopt a “kitchen sink” mentality – start with small goals and let the motivation carry you along. Instead of feeling hopeless of the 100lbs you need to lose, set a goal to shed 5 lbs instead. Then set a new goal, and keep going until you get to your ideal weight.

Staring at two + more years of college was disheartening, but now I just focus on one semester at a time. Eventually I will get there. My mother often reminds me the correlation between overcoming a mountainous task and eating an elephant – one bite at a time. So grab a sponge or a spoon an get to it. Eventually you will get there.

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