So the last couple of days I was home alone, as my wife was taking our daughters camping with her brother and his family. I was slammed with work (along with carving spoons, I have a small online business editing scientific manuscripts from around the world) and so I stayed home and put my nose to the grindstone.
For the first day I wallowed in the mess of the house. The kids had torn it up before they left, and I was working hard enough that I told myself I didn't have time to pick up the floor or unload the dishwasher. I have neat habits, so while I wasn't picking up the house, I wasn't making it worse, either. But I just kind of mooched around, burrowing my nose back into my computer every time I thought about sweeping or doing a load of laundry.
Now, I am not a stereotype of a guy, unable to clean a toilet or run a vacuum cleaner. In fact, I do the majority of the housework in our home, since I work from home and my wife is a full-time student. But something about the combination of my family being gone and having a lot of work to do made me apathetic to the whole state of things.
On the second day I started to pick up. Just a bit here and there, snagging stuff as I passed by and putting it where it belonged. I never actually set out to buckle down and clean, nor did set aside time or pump myself up. But as I did each tiny thing, my apathy faded. I picked up the floor, folded the blankets on the couch, did the dishes, a load of laundry, swept the floor, cleared the tables and counters, made the bed, put away shoes, laid out fresh towels in the bathroom and scrubbed the toilets. And the thing was, it took less than half an hour to set the house to rights.
I am acutely aware that there are other parts of my life where I am still apathetic. Big financial planning. Filing paperwork. Bookkeeping. My goal is to do what I did with the house. Pick up a thing and deal with it, a little bit at a time. Maybe, in less time than I might think, my apathy will fade. And I will be the better for it.
My blog has evolved into a series of short essays on the nature of entrepreneurship, craftsmanship, and their overlap. If either of these topics is something you think about, you will probably like this.