Just Empty the Bins

This post is part of
my ‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that began, you can click here for the opening post.

To read other posts in this series, simply scroll down past this one.

We all know that what we do on a Sunday can hugely influence
the week that follows.  Dedicate some
time to preparing for Monday and we often reap the rewards all week, everything
from time and money saved to stress avoided.
Have a Sunday where that kind of preparative work isn’t possible and we
can feel the ripples for days, whether it’s because we have to buy our lunches
out or because by Wednesday we find ourselves rummaging in the laundry basket
for a pair of socks that we can reasonably wear again.  

Trouble is, those Sundays when we don’t have time to calmly
do weekday prep are often the best ones!
Part of the joy of weekends is being able to step away from to do lists
and schedules – having the freedom to be out for the day on a whim, anything
from a last-minute trip to lunch with friends that runs on into the
evening.  No-one wants to be the person
who leaves early or forgoes an invitation because they have to do their ironing
on a Sunday night.  

Even if we don’t go out or have anything in particular
planned for our Sunday, that doesn’t mean we want to dedicate all the time to
gearing up for the week ahead.
Relaxation and downtime is hugely important.  I truly believe Albert Schweitzer’s statement
that ‘If
your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan
’ – although I also believe
that this kind of Sunday nourishment for the soul can take many forms, whether
it’s going to church or playing with your kids or curling up with a cup of tea
in bed in the morning.  Sundays often
give us the chance to take time in a way that feels impossible on the other six
days of the week.  We don’t want to
sacrifice that at the altar of ‘getting organised’, which is probably why even
when we have the opportunity on a quiet Sunday evening to prepare for the week
ahead we don’t do so.  

So we face a dilemma: we want the benefits of time spent
preparing for the week without feeling like we’re surrendering a precious day
of the weekend in order to do so.  How do
we get around this?  I think I have found
an answer…

I have read enough women’s magazine and self-help advice
over the years, and seen innumerable Instagram and blog posts on this topic, to
be able to create a ‘Fifty Ways to Prepare for Your Week’ article off the top
of my head.  Actually, I could probably
list one hundred actions you could take.
All would no doubt be useful in some way, but the list would make you
either want to punch me or simply refuse to do anything next Sunday except lie
on the sofa watching repeats of Storage
Hunters.  

My solution?  Just
empty the bin(s) in your kitchen.

Emptying the kitchen bins is a small, discrete task that
doesn’t take long but somehow gives you a sense of huge satisfaction.  Let’s face it, there’s nothing more depressing
on a Monday morning than going to chuck something away only to discover that
you can’t cram anything else in there – and it smells – and suddenly you’ve got
bin juice on your clothes – and that’s it, the most hellish start to the week
imaginable.  

So if you do nothing else, just empty your kitchen
bins.  

Feel calm, in control and like some kind of domestic goddess
for the absolute minimum effort possible.
Then if you feel energised into doing some other preparative bits too,
then go ahead.  You know what would work
well.  You know the kinds of actions that
make your week run more smoothly, whether it’s time to write in your journal or
complete your planner, making a batch of dinners to freezer for the evenings
ahead, or ensuring that the kids have done their homework before 6pm so there’s
time to chill before bed.  I like to make
sure there’s no ironing lingering.

But if not, then at least you’ve got nice empty bins to
start the week.  And tell me that doesn’t
feel a little bit good?

What about you?  Do
you have a routine for preparing for the week ahead – or do you just take it as
it comes?  If the latter, is that a
conscious choice or would you prefer to take a different approach?  If you’d like to share with me then there’s Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or
the A Life Of One’s Own Facebook page – or you can email (rae@alifeofonesown.co.uk).

This post is part of
my ‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that began, you can click here for the opening post.

To read other posts in this series, simply scroll down past this one.

Now Wash Your Hands

This post is part of
my ‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that
began, you can
click here for the opening post.

To read the first post
in the series, you can
click here.

One of the things that irritates me most in life are the
signs on toilet doors that instruct ‘Now wash your hands’.  To be clear, I mean irritate, not full-blown
annoyance; I’ll reserve that for more serious and significant matters than
this.  Still these signs are one of life’s
bugbears.  I’m no rebel (eating a chocolate
bar not purchased on the premises whilst in a coffee shop last Monday made me
feel naughty, even though I had bought a drink from them), but being given this
instruction makes me want to refuse.  I’m
almost tempted to feel a bit gross and potentially spread nasty germs around
simply because the condescending tone irks me.

This urge to not wash my hands when I see these signs runs
completely counter to my general attitude to the issue.  I am a big fan of handwashing.  I am also aware of how facile that statement sounds,
like a glib quotation from a celebrity lifestyle advice, but hear me out on
this…

I’ve found that handwashing is a great little mind-trick in
all sorts of situations.  I allude to
this in my previous post about resetting
your day
, where I list it as one of the steps to help you start over when
things aren’t going well.  Even without
the other actions, though, handwashing can have an affect beyond the obvious
one of hygiene.  

Cleanliness is undoubtedly part of it.  Even though many of us don’t get our hands
particularly dirty in the course of day-to-day life, it can be surprising how
good it feels – how clean – if we wash our hands after doing an activity.  I first noticed this when I started regularly
doing a long commute in my car.  Often
when I got home, I’d be seized by a strange urge to thoroughly clean my
hands.  Immediately some of the fatigue
and stress from the journey would evaporate.

The metaphorical aspects of this are pretty obvious.  If you’ve been doing something challenging
then you get a sense of washing it off yourself, rinsing yourself clean of the
issue, or sending the problem down the sink.

There’s also a meditative element.  Consciously choosing to wash our hands provides
a few moments where we can simply be present with the task itself, give it our
attention and focus.  Just let the water
flow, rub our hands, lather the soap, rinse it off.  Even if meditation doesn’t appeal to you,
consider trying this next time you need a bit of timeout.

Finally washing our hands is a natural demarcator.  Think of all the timeless activities that
involve handwashing at the start, end or both: preparing food, for instance, or
changing a baby’s soiled nappy.  This way
of marking opening and closing can be applied to anything in our lives; try it
whenever you have something you wish to begin or complete.

As you go
about your days, look out for any times when a good wash of your hands might be
just what you need.  Maybe you’ve been
snapping at your kids and just want to stop doing it.  Maybe you’ve been worrying about a problem at
work but know there’s nothing you can do until you go back on Monday.  Maybe a throwaway comment from a friend just
really pushed a button.  In all these
situation and more, it could be the simplest technique for letting go and
moving on.

Let me know how get on if you! If you’d like to share with
me then there’s Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or
the A Life Of One’s Own Facebook page – or you can email (rae@alifeofonesown.co.uk).

 This post is part of
my ‘This is my real life’ week.  

To read how that
began, you can
click here for the opening post.

To read the first post
in the series, you can
click here.