Many years ago when I was struggling to finish my master's thesis in the face of an unstructured day I was directed to Flylady.com, a great site that will do things like email you reminders to get "dressed to the shoes" each day and to get out and take a walk in the morning or afternoon. It also advocates reducing clutter, cleaning the house one room per day, and keeping your sink shiny.
That last one really stuck with me.
It truly is rewarding to transform a sink and counter full of dishes into a shiny clean sink and clear counter, and have that to start from when I begin a cooking project.
Right now, Brian and I are living with three other roommates. Five people go through a lot of dishes in a day, you know? So to help out the others, who are all working and/or students (many of whom have been dealing with both colds and finals lately) and to maintain my own happiness and sanity, I've taken to doing the dishes each morning.
Other people do the dishes other times of day, but I'm usually the first person up, and since I'm neither working nor a student, I have time to do this regularly. It also feels good to have a daily ritual.
This morning, after Brian and I had breakfast and showered, I made him a sandwich for lunch and then took stock of the kitchen. Someone else had run the dishwasher last night, so I emptied it and put the accumulated dishwasher-appropriate dirty dishes into it. Then I wiped down the counters and started on the remaining dishes. I suspect Brian thinks I go overboard by always washing all of the dishes in the sink, since they aren't all my responsibility, but there are nearly always dishes or pans of ours in the mix (this morning was no exception) and I figure once I'm washing things washing more takes only incrementally more time. Plus: shiny sink at the end!
There weren't that many dishes to do this morning so I also took a minute to clean the surface of the stove. So there we are: shiny clean counters, stove, and sink. Happiness!