I make a lot of to-do lists. I’ve got a color-coded weekly homework one I pin up on my cork-board, I’ve got daily ones that break things down into minuscule portions, and I’ve got ones with titles like “TO DO BETWEEN FILM AND ANTHRO.” It’s not very environmentally friendly, but it sort of works for me. I like the reward of checking things off–it makes me feel extra productive. But productivity is a strange term that doesn’t always make sense. This Saturday, I spent all day doing laundry, cleaning my room, and organizing my clothes. I had four washing machines going at once. I got a serious workout going up and down the stairs to the laundry room, the tea pantry, and the trash cans. I ironed my clothes. I washed my sheets, towels, and even a blanket. I watched videos on efficient folding to better organize my room. I caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen enough of this year. I did my dishes, called my boyfriend, cleaned surfaces in my room that really needed cleaning. When I decided to stop after dinner and just relax, I was even able to check off “self-care.” But I didn’t feel accomplished–I felt guilty.
I had meant to do homework while my laundry ran, I didn’t finish putting everything away, I didn’t even remake my bed. I’d been hyper-productive for almost six hours straight, but it didn’t feel like I’d done enough. I hadn’t started my homework for Monday or Tuesday, I hadn’t gone into town to do some shopping, and I hadn’t written my blog post yet. When my friends asked what I’d been up to all day, I said, “oh, nothing, just a lot of laundry and cleaning.” I was shocked when one of my friends said, “oh my god, I’m so jealous, I just did work all day, my room is a mess, I didn’t do everything I was supposed to do.” It made me laugh. It’s just so easy to forget that it’s okay to not be done–we always stress “done is good” here, which can be motivating, but it’s also important to be aware that half-done still means you got a lot done. Sometimes self-care is lying around, eating Chinese food, and watching Moonrise Kingdom, but sometimes self-care is deep-cleaning and reorganizing your room. Sometimes self-care is doing your homework, too–because you know you’ll feel guilty if you don’t, and the feeling of accomplishing something is hugely important.
And when I look at my beautifully reorganized drawers, I feel a sense of accomplishment. My clothes are important to me, so I want them to look nice and be easily accessible. As someone with ADD, organization and domesticity are not exactly my strong suits. But I took a few tips from professional organizers on YouTube, completely changed my folding style, and even improvised on their systems to account for things like crop tank tops with lace-up sides, or an unusual amount of bralettes, or a dinosaur costume. Maybe I haven’t exactly made my bed yet, but my room is a more productive environment now. The empty check boxes on my to-do lists aren’t my enemies, they’re just stairs I need to climb to get to that magical place: the done-is-good relaxation zone.