My house is never really tidy.
I don’t have toddlers I can blame for it, either. Just a lot of house and yard, three cats, and two busy adults with full-time jobs.
I manage to keep us fed and dressed in clean clothes, which I hope are the most important measures of a good housekeeper. I sweep when I notice stuff sticking to my feet. I vacuum when it looks like I can collect the fluffballs into a fourth cat.
But the accumulation is overwhelming. We just have so much stuff. Surfaces in this house refuse to stay clear. Phone handsets leave their cradles and flock together on the coffee table, and coffee cups gather on my desk. The mail comes in and covers the counter. Dishes get stacked or soaked in the sink until I can get around to emptying the dishwasher. Folded laundry sits on the couch long enough for the cats to claim the piles as beds and cover them with so much fur that I need to re-wash them.
Note to self: consider shaving the cats. Might be more efficient.
For a while, I tried setting myself daily and weekly cleaning goals, like the maintenance schedules I’m used to in the lab. A little discipline! A list to check off! Kitchen counters on Tuesdays, bathroom sinks on Wednesdays. A system for reading and filing paperwork in a timely and organized way. Weekly meal plans to streamline shopping and dinner preparation. I bookmarked dozens of websites on organization and time management. I subscribed to daily emails from the FlyLady who promises you a clean house with just minutes of work a day. I made a nested list of daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly tasks and prepared to get serious about keeping my home in top shape while ticking off checkboxes.
You can probably guess how that worked out.
Maybe I’m only so disciplined about maintenance in the lab because I know auditors can pull the records and question any deviations. I don’t care whether the centrifuge tubing had bleach run through it this week, but if someone notices it’s not done, it will reflect badly on me and can put the whole lab’s accreditation at risk.
Obviously, I need the threat of auditors in my home to motivate me to do all the extra tidying that I should already be doing. So, I’m going to implement the perfect solution: inviting people over for dinner and games more often! If I know someone’s watching and judging me, and could revoke my friend certification if I don’t pass their quality assurance standards, I might try harder.
Unfortunately, I think that means there’s absolutely no hope for the paperwork.