Emma Boulton spends her days juggling the demands of two small businesses and two small children. At work she's a strange combination of company director, commissioning editor and audience researcher. At home she just tries to make it through to bedtime without too much chaos. In a calmer, previous life, she spent far too long working for the BBC in their audience research department.
Emma tweets @emmaboulton.
We moved house just over a year ago to a 200 year old farm worker’s cottage. It was already lovely but like many new home owners, we wanted to make a few improvements. The first few weeks it felt like we were staying at a self catering cottage on a strange holiday where we also went to work. A few weeks more and we started to see imperfection everywhere. One thing led to another and our ‘to-do’ list grew and grew. We started making changes; starting again in some places; improving, tweaking and iterating in others.
A year later and we haven’t actually finished one room yet. It’s starting to grind. There are little unfinished jobs everywhere. Instead of the beautiful new kitchen, I see the unplastered wall where we moved a radiator. Instead of the beautiful new bathroom, I see the unfinished airing cupboard where I want to put my towels.
The unfinished things in one room, lead to piles of mess in other rooms. The towels are spilling out of a cupboard in our bedroom; the spare room is full of boxes we have no book shelves for. The unfinished things are also becoming hazards, like not having an extractor fan in the bathroom means bare electrics — eek!
The daily mess makes me feel like I’m bumbling through life in a slightly haphazard fashion; avoiding piles of laundry and Lego to get to my desk; cleaning up plaster dust and paint before I can put my children to bed. It’s not awful, it doesn’t make me depressed or miserable but I do feel distracted, inefficient and discombobulated.
So, we’ve started to tackle the unfinished things. On the weekend Mark fitted an extractor fan and smoke alarms. This week a carpenter is making shelves in our airing cupboard. I can finally have a shower without needing to open the window and I’ll be able to put my towels away (yay!).
Finishing these little things might not seem much, but it will make me feel lighter and able to focus on enjoying the beautiful home we have. I will be able to keep it tidier and cleaner. It’ll work as a home more efficiently. I’ll feel pleased and proud to invite people around instead of apologizing for the mess. Our home will have our personality, needs and wants in its DNA.
So, why don’t you join me in tackling some of the little things that might be distracting your attention? Those emails that have been sitting in your inbox, unanswered or not actioned. Those ‘to do’ list items that get transferred rather than ticked off from one week to the next. That blog post that’s half written. Those little tweaks to your website you never quite get around to doing. Or even that area of mess in your work space that never gets tidied up. Dedicate half an hour, a day, or even a week tackling some of those little things.
I promise you’ll feel better for it.