Thursday, May 27, 2010

Time to Clean Up

Enough is enough. Matt and I are letting our physical environment get too cluttered. Some people aren't bothered by clutter. Unfortunately, I am. It makes me feel claustrophobic. I keep brainstorming all the ways I want to make our house nicer, and yet step one is to simply keep it picked up. End of story. It doesn't matter how much money we invest in nice furniture if we're going to cover that furniture in crap.

So I've already admitted the problem. What's the next step for fixing the problem? I think I need to get at the root of the situation and figure out what's causing it. First, it's a mindset. I hate picking up after myself. But I have to remember that I can either do it now or do it later. I need to make it a habit to pick up after myself immediately.

Second, I think I'm always busy, busy, busy. I literally run out the door every morning, leaving everything unkempt. If I pick up before I start doing my work (like put away the dishes from the previous night before I get engrossed in my work), then I will reprioritize keeping things clean.

Third, I need to invest Matt in helping to keep our place picked up. Maybe right after dinner we can spend a few minutes picking up together.

Okay, I'm off to go clean and start working on these steps!

How do you feel about the state of your physical environment? What are your next steps?

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Samantha said...

Well...I'm messy at the best of times. But, with the wedding just happening and finishing my MA within weeks of each other I will come back from my honeymoon to a disaster.
We actually have made a plan taking over the mess - getting rid of a lot of unecessary items kitchen and only keep what we use. Then we'll tackle the office the next week, then onto the upstairs.

Or, I'm thinking moving might be a really good idea instead.

Elsa said...

I am like you...I'm not a fan of clutter, it also makes me claustrophobic and it stresses me out. I'm not the cleanest or most organized person around, but I did notice that the minute we got married all I wanted was to clean and organize our house--it never ends. I've started giving myself 15 minutes every single day to pick up in a room--whether our bedroom, living room, etc. It seems to work fine for me as long as I stick to it. I know that when my husband helps during those 15 minutes a lot gets done and I feel so much better.

I've got lots of friends who had the same problem and hired a cleaning lady. They all swear they love how clean and organized everything always seems to be. I can't see that working out for me, because I'd have to clean before the cleaning lady gets here and I have issues with people moving my stuff around.

Anyways, good luck!

Sara said...

I sat down yesterday and came up with my plan for purging. I just feel the need to lighten the load. It amazes me how much we can accumulate in a short amount of time. I am going to check out closet organizers, to make the storage space work better for us.

Stacy Marie said...

I let things get awful and then clean everything up and then LOVE it and then wonder why I can't just pick up little things every day to keep it lovable. Closet organizers sound like a great idea! And purging always does help. I've found that if it's a habit I will make it happen, and I think spending 10 minutes a day every day doesn't set you up for a big marathon day once a week. PS I love your duvet cover, it is lovely!

Lyssabeth's Wedding Officiants said...

I've always been tidy (hubby too, which helps. I swear the secret to a smooth marriage boils down to similar messiness tolerances and compatible sleep schedules...but I digress).

Two years ago, we sold our 1892 Victorian home, along with the antiques in it and a whole lot of other stuff. (The thrift stores LOVED us--we were dropping off donations every day for two weeks!) Then we moved the belonging we did retain into a 16 foot truck and took up residence in a (rented) cottage on the beach on the Oregon coast. We've never looked back. Lightening the load was the smartest thing we've ever done.

We have enough to keep us satisfied and happy. And we don't live an austere life by any means. I still have my computer equipment and hubby has his camera gear. And then there is our bikes. But the paraphernalia that had to be maintained (and dusted) has been greatly diminished. I mean, really, I didn't need three floor-to-ceiling shelves of books (and those were just mine). I kept the vital ones, sold the rest and now I use the library. Hubby ditched all but the basics of his garage-full-of-tools and now we use the tool library if we need something.

It's very liberating to lighten the load. And not having the baggage of an owned home is a first for us (we are in our 50s). So much less time spent cleaning and more time spent doing fun things. No matter what your stage in life (and I acknowledge that downsizing is tough during the child-bearing years) it's a good practice to examine how much clutter is in your life and make it a habit to diminish it wherever possible.

A tip. Keep a box in a closet or the garage (someplace easily accessible) for donations to Goodwill. In the course of your day, when you see something and wonder "why the heck am I keeping, dusting, moving this piece around yet AGAIN?" you can pop it in the box immediately. When it's full, drop it off and then start over. It's an easy way to keep the clutter down--and it beats shoving that blouse that you know you'll never wear again into the back of the closet to deal with later.

Olivia said...

Clutter drives me nuts, too--and my fiance and I share a small studio apartment! This post over at Zen Habits might be helpful to you:

I also try to do a quick run through before I go to bed. I've found that doing the dishes before I go to sleep makes keeping the apartment clean the next day seem so much more manageable. (Our bed is also literally in the kitchen, so I might be extra sensitive to it.)

Good luck!

C├ęcy said...

I'm a messy person, I leave things behind and usually my husband ends up picking it up.
However I love for things to be organized.
A box for this, a shelf for that helps me keep things tidier. Let's talk about our kitchen right now. What used to be the grains and pasta shelves is now a mess of nuts and dried fruits bags, the mary jane or whatever it is that you call that turning thing is as disorganized as can be. I know that if i want it to be cleaned I need to organize it.

The other thing that helps me is that when a place is clean looking, I want to keep it that way, so the moment I let things pile up I just don't make the effort anymore. Something I need to control, so I get into cleaning sprees every once in a while, but I need to do better than that.

Jennifer said...

I love love love, and reading it always makes and/or keeps me motivated!

BeeHive said...

I follow the 20 minute rule: every night (or morning) clean up for 20 minutes without stopping. It keeps our house very clean all the time. Except for my husband's closet, that's where I throw the sh*t he leaves sitting around, if he doesn't follow the 20 minute rule.

Onnie said...

I've always been curious about trying the 17-items in 17 minutes decluttering technique. I originally read about it as finding 17 things to throw away every month, but I like the idea better of 17 things to put in your Goodwill (like Lyssabeth said) or Freecycle or food pantry donation box. Once you have preschool or older kids, you might want to combine that with a "toy timeout" system, to encourage the kids to put their toys away, and to help them to realize that if they're not playing with a toy anymore, maybe they could give it to someone else who would appreciate it. I have no idea if that would actually work in practice, but I read about it once combined with a "toy library" on Parent Hacks and it sounded like an interesting idea to keep things decluttered without resorting to fights with your kids about leaving their playthings around, and without "stealing" all their toys arbitrarily as punishment, or constantly cleaning up after them without solving the problem.

Of course, there is the question of how to keep grandparents (and others) from giving too many toys in the first place! Not sure how to solve that, except for encouraging purchase of summer camps or lessons as presents instead of "stuff"...and probably trying to network with other parents in your playgroup about presents before attending birthday parties or other gift-exchange events...

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