If you’re like me, you notice every spec of dirt in your house the second a guest walks in the door. Nevermind that when I go to other people’s houses I’m not inspecting the baseboards for dust, when I see it in my house, I immediately feel like a failure.
To me, a clean house is a sign of a healthy, balanced life, a life where everything is dealt with efficiently. Ditto for a car or any other inhabited space. In fact, some psychologists claim that the state of the trunk of your car is a direct reflection of your emotional health.
But if you’re like me (or at least like I used to be) and the rest of America, you probably feel as though you lack the time or energy to keep up with everything, what with a job or kids or any of the other of the million things we all have going on.
I’m here to tell you you do have the time and probably the energy, because following these three rules will help you stay on top of the mess. And, after the initial set-up, we’re talking a few minutes a day.
1. Everything has a place. Finding a resting spot for all items can help eliminate clutter from your life and also makes things much easier to find. For example, I keep all of our gift cards in a specific drawer in my office. I keep all important documents in the safe. I even have specific pockets in my purse designated for my phone and my keys so I never have to frantically paw through my purse looking for a ringing phone or think I’ve lost my keys (and look like I’ve lost my mind).
2. Handle it Once. Probably the best organizing tip I’ve ever had. This is a simple concept: you handle everything just one time. You come home and take your shoes off? Put them away right away. Going through mail? Either mail the bills right away or put them in the designated spot in your office until you can get to them. Eating in the car? Throw the trash away as soon as you get out of the car, clean out anything else that doesn’t belong. The point is, never, ever set something down with the thought “I’ll get to it later.” Because that? Is how clutter happens. Put it away the first time so it’s done and enjoy your clutter-free zone.
3. Fifteen minutes a day. I used to spend huge chunks of time cleaning on the weekend, which was not the way I wanted to spend my precious two days off of work. Now, I have a designated day for certain chores, and I find I’m not spending more than 15 or 20 minutes a day on chores, which makes keeping my house clean a manageable task. On Mondays, I clean bathrooms. Tuesdays, I dust. Wednesday is vacuum day, etc. Not only does this help me keep up on chores, but it ensures my house is always guest-worthy, so there is no chance of my house being a mess if someone randomly stops by (now, the chance of me actually being presentable or wearing a bra is another story).
The point is, you don’t have to spend hours to keep a clean house or car, you just have to commit to a few minutes a day, and to not putting off until tomorrow what you can deal with in the moment. The feeling of never having that build-up, of never feeling embarrassed by a messy house, is worth it.
image courtesy Flickr