Spinning My Wheels While Acheiving my Big Picture Goals

by Katy on August 28, 2011 · 12 comments

Sometimes I feel like I’m spinning my wheels. Like Sisyphus, my to-do list fills with tasks that have to be repeated on a daily basis, and I never pull ahead. Wash laundry, hang dry the laundry, put away laundry, make dinner, clean up from dinner. You get the drift. So I try to accomplish something, heck anything on a daily basis that pulls me forward towards the grand goal of being completely on top of my life.

You know, the house completely organized, all my work commitments met, a full and satisfying social life and thousands upon thousands of extra dollars leftover at the end of each and every month.

Laugh if you will, but I feel like goals cannot be reached unless you actually reach for them. Like I try to explain to my sons, there’s no way you can get an “A” in school if you’re only trying for a “B.”

This may make me sound like an insufferable perfectionist, but I assure you that I am far from this category. My built-in buffet resembles a sculpture made from unrelated items, and it was a bad day when I discovered that my piano bench was a flat horizontal surface.

“What, I can clear the dining room table for dinner by piling everything onto the piano bench? Genius, pure genius!”

And before you start noting that the bulk of the household chores seem to be resting on my supposedly feminist shoulders, please note that my husband and I have an unwritten rule that whichever of us is working that day gets a break from household drudgery. Which means that I get two days a week off, and he gets the rest.

We are currently hosting a Japanese exchange student for a couple of weeks, which means that we are on our best behavior. We’re shutting the bathroom room when in use, abstaining from yelling at each other and cleaning up the dinner dishes directly after the meal. For other families this might not be a change from routine, but for us it is. However, I feel like I am so busy with the daily tasks of life and playing tour guide to my city, that I am not working on the big picture stuff that keeps me from feeling like I’m spinning my wheels. 

So last night I actually made a mental list of my accomplishments for the day:

  • Hosted a Japanese exchange student, which gives my younger son much needed opportunity to practice his Japanese.
  • Did earn a $120 “stipend” per week of hosting, which has already been deposited into my sons’ Japan trip savings accounts. (One son will go to Japan in the spring for two weeks, while the other will go for five weeks in the summer. *Gulp*)
  • With the help of my husband, I rolled out our old and somewhat rusty propane barbecue to the curb with a “Free” sign on it. It was gone within five minutes!
  • I gave the silverware drawer a much needed wipe down and organization while chatting with my husband in the kitchen.

This list may not seem impressive to the perpetually productive among you, but since I also took everyone to the zoo, provided transport service to my older son for work, made and then cleaned up from dinner, (yakisoba noodles with smoked pork, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and snow peas) completed a laundry cycle, (wash, hang dry, put away) watered both own and neighbor’s plants and wrote a blog post.

Just the tiny accomplishments of organizing a drawer and getting rid of the barbecue support my goals of an uncluttered home. Which moved me one teeny-tiny step towards my goal of being completely on top of my life.

Hey, I can’t achieve it unless I reach for it. Right?

Now, about that piano bench . . .

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

harriet August 28, 2011 at 9:27 am

I felt very silly a couple years ago when I realized that I wouldn’t achieve my goals unless I had actual goals. Vague desires of finishing that novel and losing weight don’t cut it. You need to have an action plan and timeline to accomplish those things or they’ll be forever what you’re vaguely thinking about, not something you do.

I’ve lost 70 pounds this year, just sold one book and have another proposal that will be ready to send off next month. Next up I need to declutter my house and barn. Um, eventually.


Katy August 28, 2011 at 9:30 am

Congratulations! That is fantastic!



Jo August 28, 2011 at 11:44 am

Good for you, harriet – would love to hear more if you feel like providing it.


Karen August 28, 2011 at 9:29 am

That makes me feel so much better . While, we were on vacation, I didn’t think much about all the organizational projects at home. Now, that we’re home, they are staring me in the face. I think I might have to take the next week off, so I can really get a handle on things before school starts again. Scott will be gone on business, I won’t have any obstacles. I tend to fill bags for him when I do clean, and as of now, there are probably 8 bags around the house, which I will relocate to the garage until he deals with them. But, yeah, Hannah and I are going to tackle the craft room first. Then maybe I’ll have room to catch up their school and baby books….baby steps.
First, I must go buy the rest of the school supplies on Hannah’s list. 4 packs of Ticonderoga so that we can sharpen them all. That will be the only thing that I buy “full price” even though I’m using a rewards gift from Office Depot. I digress… better get up and get going.


Jinger August 28, 2011 at 10:50 am

About a year ago, I made a 4 year plan…to have my loans paid off. It’s not an easy task living on a partial retirement income and occasional work, but I’m right on target to achieve my goal. I also decided that working full time was not for me, as a woman of a certain age….I feel I deserve my freedom. As a side note, I just furnished my new guest room by shopping in my apartment, The Blue Hanger, and free finds beside the dumpster. I refashioned everything and have a cozy, happy room for guests now.


emmer August 28, 2011 at 11:25 am

70 lbs lost, a book sold and a proposal ready. gaaaa! i think i hate harriet.
ok, got that out of my system.
there is no such thing as on top of everything. that terrible little picture in your head was put there by madison avenue. i got it long ago, from watching leave it to beaver. the mom vaccumed the perfectly clean house wearing heels, pearls and a petticoated shirtwaist dress. we must fight against the june cleaverists of the world!
plans are good. mine are on the frig, where i see them a lot. and i love drawing lines thru the ones i have finished. but it is high season in the garden and i have 40 lbs of apples in my house and i got the call that my local farmer will have my 40 lbs of peaches tomorrow. hadn’t planned on that. there will only be 2 lines drawn thru this week…


Shannon Breen August 28, 2011 at 11:40 am

I love all your posts, but this one really hit home! I have the bad habit of having my life get on top of me BECAUSE I don’t take the time to do the daily, routine things that I should be doing. Then I come to dinner and find there’s no place to sit, all the forks are dirty, and we’re out of butter. I keep saying “do the basic stuff first” as my mantra, but there’s so MUCH of it that I feel like I’ll get nothing “done” the rest of the day. It’ll all be dishes and laundry and vacuuming pet hair.


Jo August 28, 2011 at 11:42 am

I hear you loud and clear and with bells clanging.

The past few years I have learned to have patience at least. Long gone are the days when I could schedule a project for a Saturday or a day when the kids were in school. Everything is in 15- or 30-minute increments these days. It’s not that I have small children anymore – now it’s work and elderly parents, and the accumulation of 20 years of clutter from when the children were growing up, plus clutter from a closed business, plus items from a parent’s home.

Regarding decluttering, have you seen this site? A tremendous philosophy, great community, and overall big help:

Actually, Katy, maybe I came to your site from there?? So maybe you have seen it. But perhaps others haven’t.


Christopher August 28, 2011 at 8:36 pm

I got it all figured out: clean the kitchen, destroy the kitchen, clean the kitchen, destroy the kitchen… (repeat indefinitely). Good food happens, but other than that it’s an endless cycle.


Frugal Down Under August 29, 2011 at 4:25 am

My partner has not been great at doing his share and yes I’m a feminist. However in the past few weeks we have been cleaning ad-hockly before super clean family headed our way for a holiday. Now that they have left we have committed to 35 minutes a night of cleaning once our little one is asleep.

We start with dishes, cooking and food surfaces, floors, main cluttered surfaces and then we hit a small area that needs some attention. And it’s amazing how we are for the first time in our lives getting ahead with our home looking nice. We finish by 8:30pm and then have free time to do other things individually or together.

I love our new routine and hope to stick to it.


mairsydoats August 29, 2011 at 9:17 am

Thanks so much for the encouragement and the window into your process! I just opened a play this last weekend, and my apartment is covered in schmutz and costume-making detrius, as well as full of fruit-to-be-processed. I keep repeating that, NO, I’m THANKFUL that one of my fellow actors with a prolific apple tree gave me a huge bucket of apples to be transformed into apple sauce. August=exhausting!! But ya gotta make hay while the sun shines. Or – make applesauce before the apples rot! Babysteps on the rest of it…


Marianne August 30, 2011 at 4:53 am

I just want to thank you for all your posts and your willingness to share your success and your failures, which in my book add up to some much needed common sense wisdom. You put a lot of things in perspective about what we *could* do and *can* do in 24 hours. Where did we get the all-pervasive feeling that we had to do everything, now, and it had to be perfect, or else none of it counted. Martha Stewart? I gonna blame Martha Stewart. Seriously, where did it come from?


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