Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Manifesto Fundamental: Embrace Baby Steps and Micro-Habits

Ease and comfort, babies, ease and comfort - and detective work.

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Remember the Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Motto: Lazy is a Good Thing!

If you check out the Wikipedia Page for Permaculture, you’ll see that the 9th design principle is about using small and slow solutions. That’s because observation and sensitive interventions trump large aggressive actions every time. Don’t get all effortful on me - wu-wei, baby, wu-wei. The subtle art of non-action will help you out - use it in conjunction with your journal.

It’ll help you to make the right decision at the right time - not to dive in, make a bunch of grand changes, and throw out your back. In essence, this is about avoiding burnout, maintaining your system, staving off pushback, and, importantly, your comfort and ease. By refusing to completely overhaul your system at once, you give yourself a chance to try subtle iterations: make a tweak, observe the feedback and consequences, and then make another tiny tweak. Baby steps, baby steps.

Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Tip: Harder is Not Better

Effort is often used to signal virtue. That’s kind of… priggish and unnecessary. Don’t be so vain, baby. =) It’s actually better to hang back, observe, and make a simple change that oils the hinges, eases the path, and fosters a bit a magic. That takes patience, sensitivity, and practice. So ease on down the road, my love, don’t dig it up and pave it.

Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Tip: Baby Steps are Better for You

Burnout is a bitch. She’s mean, and she’ll come for you. She’ll come for your energy levels. She’ll come for your lower back. She’ll lay you out flat on your back for a three-week spell of depression and Netflix binges. Burnout is a strict, domineering teacher.

Baby steps are much nicer. They’re challenging, because we’ve been raised to think of ourselves as bold! enterprising! hard workers! and if we don’t take huge risks and bound mightily into frays we might think that we’re being timid - or at the very least worry that our momentum will wear out and we’ll lose track of the project.

(This is totally what Remember the Milk is for, btw. Set up your to-do list and let it come to you.)

But if you can expand your patience and temper your ambition temporarily (ooh temporarily temper…), you can sink into the ease and self-love of baby steps. One tiny change in one little spot is sustainable. You can weave it into your world. You can check to see if it works. And, a few days later, if that’s on track for success, you can add another little babystep. Mince along daintily. Spend more time lying on the grass and looking up at the sky, letting your mind wander.

Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Tip: Art and Craft Your Micro-Habits

Check out our Habit Formation section. That’s where I get into the nitty-gritty of this, but - basically - you want to be strategic when you create your new micro-habits (which can totally be babysteps.) You’ll want to be artful. You’ll want to be crafty. Here’s the nutshell:

  • Craft a preposterously easy new habit.
  • Then make it twice as easy.
  • Then anchor it to an existing habit in your routine, such as brushing your teeth or dropping your kid off at school.
  • Let that new mini, itty-bitty, oh-so-adorable micro-habit ride for several weeks before you introduce another one.

Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Tip: Prevent Burnout

Don’t pull out eight hours worth of project and promise that you’ll put it all away when you’re done. Don’t spend sixteen hours cleaning house. Don’t pile mounds of to-donate objects near your front door. No. No. Keep it small, stupid. Put a banker’s box of stuff in your trunk and drive it to the thrift store on your way home from work. Finish that before you find more stuff to donate. Don’t try to organize a closet in twenty minutes, throwing everything all over the room, only to lie down atop a pile of evening gowns from the 80’s in despair at midnight.

Take out only what you can put away in five minutes.

Take on ridiculously small projects and ride a wave of successes. Burnout might be an effective teacher, but she’s nasty. Guard against her by growing your wisdom.

Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Tip: Cultivate Ease

What if house cleaning wasn’t a series of mundane chores that made you dirty, sweaty, and tired? What if was, instead, a series of background habits, pleasant to perform, that helped you feel comfy and secure? Maybe a touch sensual?

Vacuuming? Sensual? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. (*waggles eyebrows at you while vacuuming. Are you not seduced?)

Cultivate sensory mindfulness while you do chores. Since I have ASMR like whoa, I enjoy listening to the sounds that come out during chores - rustles, clicks, clatters, scrapes, etc. You might enjoy the tactile elements, the smell elements, etc. I’d say taste, but, um, I don’t think you’ll be licking your chores. Much.

*stops licking the bathtub*

Sometimes I *like* it quick and dirty.

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Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Footnotes!

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I suggest *positive* judgments.

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