“I’ve Worked All Day and I Have Nothing to Show For it!”


Have you ever had one of those frustrating days in which you know that you have been doing things all day, working, building up a sweat, maybe even crossing off things on your list, only to look around at the end of the day and think, “It looks like nothing was done!”? I had just such a day today. I was determined to get numerous chores done, including tending to the cleaning of the cats’ items, but only managed to complete a few tasks. Here is what I learned and what another professional organizer says about it.

I have three cats, all of whom are territorial. I therefore have three of everything: water fountains, litter pans, and food bowls. I began my chore day by emptying out and then washing the upstairs litter pan in the tub. While I was up there, I started a load of laundry, emptied the old water from the cat fountain, and gathered some things that were meant to go back downstairs with me.

Downstairs, I noticed that the cats had been kind enough to leave some hairballs in inconvenient places. Grumbling, I scrubbed the floor, then washed and replaced the upstairs water fountain. While upstairs, I found something else that needed my attention at that moment—or so I thought---and took care of that. Upstairs, downstairs, over and over again. Eventually, I managed to wash all three pans and water fountains, but it had taken me several hours and multiple trips up and down the stairs.

Cindy Glovinsky, a licensed and certified Social Worker, recommends in her book, One thing at a time: 100 Simple ways to live clutter-free every day (2004) gathering all needed supplies for a project ahead of time. I could have saved myself a great deal of back-and-forth, up and down movement if I had gathered all of one type of thing—say the water fountains—and completed every mini-task associated with cleaning them at once and redistributing them all at once. This sort of mindfulness is a skill that I am still developing but one that is worthwhile in the long run.

Reference Glovinsky, C. (2004). One thing at a time: 100 Simple ways to live clutter-free every day. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

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