Clutter is by far the most horrifying thing that can materialize in my house. I am obsessive compulsive in my desire to keep my domicile clean. It is simply impossible for me to relax if there are clothes on the floor, dishes sitting in the sink, or even coffee rings on my counter. If I know that a mess exists, I fidget and can not concentrate on anything at my desk. If I leave for work and I saw some sort of spill that I was unable to clean up in my rush to get to the car, I agonize over it until I return in the afternoon for lunch.
My unending desire for a stress-free home is constantly at odds with the general brick-a-brack and ‘filth’ that accumulates with everyday living. In a century where even though we find opportunities to engage in multiple forms of entertainment yet still feel that we simply never have enough time to get anything done, it is entirely understandable that the idea of cleaning gets thrown to the wayside until at some point we feel that our overall living conditions have deteriorated to such an extent that what was once a 5 minute clean-up and straightening chore has metastasized into something vastly more horrifying. It is now a project-nay-a triathlon of debris and dirt that once cleaned, we feel no true sense of accomplishment. For we know beyond doubt in the darkest reaches of our minds that it will return, a clutter of disgust that will begin innocently enough, but will grow under our noses and will soon stare back at you mockingly.
“Escape me?” It will seem to say. “How quaint.”
We have all been there at some point, even myself during the early stages of my young adulthood where my mother’s screams of “Clean your room!” could no longer reach me. But eventually the filth would come to a head, and I could no longer deal with it’s presence. I would spend an entire day sorting through clutter, organizing, throwing away thing in disgust that at one point I just had to possess.
At the end of the day I would stand in my house with grim satisfaction and make a solemn promise to myself that this time it would be different, this time I would keep a handle on things and not let my house get out of control.
This vicious cycle continued for about two years until I finally sat down and devised a small list of manageable ways to keep my home in order, which I am hoping that some lovely reader will be able to take to heart and apply to their lives in order to retain their own hold on sanity, a thing most delicate and tenuous in this day and age.
1.) A Little Bit Actually Goes A Long Way
The biggest secret I can offer to keep a tidy house to to remember to dedicate at least 10 minutes a day to what I lovingly refer to as routine maintenance. Immediately when you return home from work and/or school, take a look around the living room/kitchen and throw away any collected trash, gather up any lingering remains of laundry that was left out the night before, and straighten any tables that are cluttered.
Doing these things immediately when you get home will not only lower the chances that you will be less inclined to do so if you immediately sit down, but will also make your home much more relaxing once you do. You would be surprised how much you can straighten in 10 minutes. I manage to not only clean my desk and computer area, but also the living room and kitchen. When I sit down at my computer 10 minutes later the first floor of my house is clean, and I don’t have to worry about having a chore to do throughout my afternoon.
2.) Everything Needs A Place of It’s Own
While the initial stages of organizing your home will indeed take time, you will find that it is much easier to keep a clean house if all of your objects have a place that they need to be returned to once you finish using them. Tupperware containers, decorated shoe boxes, and cubbyholes can be both cheap and effective ways to give all of your little objects a home. There are millions of creative ways to organize while on a budget, and at the same time express your creativity.
3.) Get Rid of What You Don’t Use
One large issue with being unable to store away things you want to keep is that often our closets, attics, and basements are absolutely overloaded with things we no longer need. Take the time one weekend to go through old boxes and get rid of things such as old toys, legacy computer equipment, furniture, and old clothes that you no longer wear. Before tossing something into the “Keep” pile, ask yourself why you need to keep this item. Does it have sentimental value? Are you planning to re-purpose the item for later use? When was the last time you wore this outfit?
If you feel guilty about throwing things away, bag up old clothes and donate them to a charity such as habitat for humanity. If you would rather keep things to sell ask a few friends if they want to take part in a group yard sell with you. In the end you will have more space to store the items that you actually do want to keep for later use, and will have the space to organize your stored items so that when you actually do need to use them, you will be able to locate them both quickly and easily.
4.) Create an Accountability Chart
When it comes to doing chores, it is easy to feel that you are the only one doing them. Lets face it, when you are a female in a relationship it is still expected that even if both you and your partner work a full day, the woman is still the one that generally picks up the house. This isn’t because men are evil, it is simply that most men (at least the few that I have lived with) simply do not see messes or filth, or just don’t care about keeping a clean house.
The best way to deal with the apathy is to create a chore or accountability chart. Assign chores such as vacuuming, laundry, and unloading the dishwasher to one another and make it clear that these chores are done on an as-needed basis. Make sure everyone knows what is expected of them. Once everyone is aware of exactly what they are personally responsible for for maintaining, you will not only know who to growl at when the work isn’t being done, but you will also know who to complement when the work is done well.
5.) Don’t Buy Things You Don’t Need
I’m guilty of this myself. As stated before, we all have been born into a era where we are taught that the person with the most toys wins. Unfortunately these toys create a mountain of mayhem in our homes. While it is always nice to buy something new, make a habit of asking yourself the following questions:
- Is this an impulse purchase?
- Why do I need this item?
- Where am I going to store this?
- How long will this item continue to interest me?
Asking these questions regularly will not only keep you from purchasing things you don’t need, but will also save you money in the end. Beware buying tiny gifts for friends you do not see everyday as well, while the idea behind purchasing gifts is a sweet one, often in the few instances that we do see our dear friends we forget to give them these gifts, and they simply become more clutter in our own homes.