Linear Thinking – A How-to Guide

Work With Intention

Today I am going to talk about a subject that I think we all struggle with from time to time. I like to call it “linear thinking.” But before I explain what that is, I would like to start this post off with a short story, starring myself:

“Jen had two hours to clean before work, and she was determined that everything would be finished by the time she had to leave. So she began her chores in the living room. As she was dusting the furniture, she noticed that some books on the shelves were fallen over and in disarray. So she put down the duster and began straightening out the shelves. As she straightened, she found a book she was looking for she and decided to put it in the bedroom for later enjoyment. When she walked into the bedroom, she observed that the bed needed made and all her clothes, both dirty and clean, were lying on the floor. She began to straighten them up. However, they piled up too quickly in her arms, and she chose to take the easy way out by throwing them in the washing machine. She didn’t feel like wasting her time by sorting, folding, or hanging them. But when she started the wash, she realized there were already some clean clothes in the dryer, so she threw them in a basket and decided to fold them later, after the rest of her tasks were done.

Two hours later, Jen was just starting on the dishes, and she noticed it was time to leave. She felt good about all the work she accomplished… but then her spirits fell when she saw that the furniture was only half dusted, the shelves were partially organized, a basket of clothes was lying on the floor, the dishes weren’t finished, and the bed wasn’t made. Unfortunately, it was time to leave and she felt discouraged because nothing was fully finished. This added to her stresses, and her attitude at work was greatly affected.”

It seems a lot of people fall into this trap. We want to take on all the chores at the same time, but when we do this, it is easy to get discouraged and overwhelmed.

Regrettably, this was the story of my life when I first became a homemaker. I was terrible at remaining focused on any simple task. I would try to “multitask” by doing several things at once, but incredibly inefficiently. As a result, I started to dread chores┬ábecause I knew they would take me hours to finish.


But one day, it clicked with me. I was cleaning the bathroom and saw an item that belonged in another room. As I started to leave the bathroom to put it away, I stopped and thought, hmm, maybe I’ll just set this here and finish my cleaning first. And so I did. Therefore, I finished scrubbing the bathroom within fifteen minutes.

Because of this practice, I learned something valuable:

Stay in the area you are cleaning or organizing, and work with the intention of finishing completely.

This method is called “linear thinking,” or thinking in a straight line. Literally, staying on task until that task is completely finished. Once I began applying this technique to my chores, I realized they weren’t as overwhelming and difficult as I made them out to be. I was able to finish my duties quickly and efficiently.

So my advice to you is:

Stay in one area and clean/organize it completely. If you find something that belongs in another area, put it in a pile and go back to it later. Do this for all the chores you need to accomplish. You might find that they aren’t as horrible as you thought, and maybe be able to enjoy yourself!

Ergo, my lovely readers, if you have trouble keeping to this method, don’t fret. It will come with practice and patience. I know you can do it!

Have a blessed weekend!


6 thoughts on “Linear Thinking – A How-to Guide

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      1. Thanks, I really enjoying sharing my learnings about lean and applying these to less popular areas, like housework! Happy to help out with lean advice as you carry on with your lean journey

  1. Very good observations. We can waste so much time coming and going when cleaning a particular room. Another way of linear thinking is to take a moment before going into a room to gather what you need for cleaning and other tasks including an extra trash bag and an empty basket in which things can be placed to take elsewhere when your are finished.

    1. That’s a really great point! I don’t know why, but when I leave the area I am working in, I always get so distracted. So gathering everything beforehand is great. I never thought about taking a basket in before. I like that!

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