After writing that last post on my desire to be in a bubble of happiness, I went into the kitchen and really looked at it. It was a mess, and has been a source of constant low-level frustration for years. Since I tend to live in my head, I don’t usually notice things like the kitchen until it becomes inconvenient for me. When that happens, I feel a little bad about not maintaining it—I’ve long since made peace with myself regarding this tendency to let household stuff go—and then I clean it up. It’s a little different when someone else is living with me; I tend to think more about how the guest might be comforted by a well-ordered kitchen.
Today, though, I approached the kitchen with the new-to-me concept of Happy Bubble Time. Cleaning the kitchen is a chore ordinarily, but could I convert it to a HBT moment? I started to empty out the kitchen sink, but the dish rack was full, so I had to empty that, and find places to put things. And then I noticed the garbage can was full. I felt a brief surge of frustration and despair at the rapidly-evolving chain of dependent activities. But instead of giving up hope, I made a conscious decision to just handle each thing as it came along, and systemize where I could to save time in the future. I wasn’t sure how it would come out, but I knew that the process of going through this would likely have positive outcomes. In other words, I decided to have faith that it would go somewhere, and it would be better, and that this would be satisfaction enough.
After about an hour, I had made some critical rearrangements of the kitchen. All the pots and pans are now in one place, and I’ve integrated lid storage back with them. Before, I had a lid rack that took up a lot of space, and was in an awkward place. Plastic storage is now contained in three bins: one for disposable plastic for which I have multiples, one for the good locking plastic containers, and one for all the “one-off” tupperware. It all fits underneath the pots now, instead of rattling around in one big box next to them. This freed up space to put the various coolers I have, nested in each other, for when I’m taking food out to a picnic. I consolidated the hot water pot and coffee maker onto an area in the dining room, where all the beverage-making materials are now located. The result is a more functionally-organized kitchen, and I am pleased. This wasn’t planned, but it’s what happened and I feel good.
By comparison, one task that is lingering is the processing of the last podcast we recorded on Friday. I have to check its levels, export a WAVE file, run it through noise reduction, and then monitor it on a pair of different speakers to test for frequency balance before dumping it to an MP3 and tagging it. Then, I have to upload it to the podcast website, write a meaningful description, and post it. I’m not looking forward to it at all, because it seems like a big pain in the ass. Unlike the kitchen task, which was unpleasant in concept but could be handled with some spirited on-the-fly decision-making, the podcast task is unpleasant but well-defined. How to convert this into HBT?
It’s now two hours later. It took maybe an hour to publish the podcast with notes, which included listening to it again. While I was working on it, though, I was multi-tasking between WordPress updates for a client’s website, monitoring a roast, and replying to some emails. Not the most focused use of my time, but I feel several things got done.
The drawback to this approach, however, is that the subtasks I got done don’t feel as real as a task that is part of a chain working toward an end goal. These are just things that happened, and didn’t carry with them any particular consequence. In that sense, they were distractions from the main task. I may have finished it sooner had I been more patient waiting for installers to install. The lack of mindfulness is disturbing, as it indicates the ease with which I was distracted from my “main task”. This didn’t feel like HBT, where the focus is clear and all actions are aligned with achieving a goal. This was more like being trapped into a task, and pushing forward only semi-engaged while allowing myself to wander into other tasks. It’s a useful mode, perhaps, for making some progress in the face of disinterest, but it’s not optimum.
I’m feeling quite sleepy, so I’m going to hit the sack and ponder this tomorrow.