Wednesday, August 21

Tidy by Numbers

This means almost nothing coming from me, because I'm a terrible mess all the time, but few things feel as good as having your home significantly cleaner.

Although I kind of imagine a Weetzie home to be adorably cluttered, I also see it as a certain kind of tidy.
There are probably a lot of things, definitely, but I'm sure almost all of those things have their place, and I really can't imagine Weetzie stepping over mountains of dirty clothes and towels to make her way across her bedroom. Witch Baby, maybe, but not Weetzie, nor some of the other creative FLB characters.

So even when I'm busy like crazy, I yearn for a lovely, moderately tidy home, even if it's covered in decor and comfy cushions. They should at least look a little tidy.
Because I'm effing lazy as hell, I rarely do full cleaning sprees, but I've picked up a few little things that help me feel better when the dust and dirty dishes are piling in on me and making my head spin.

1. Empty your small wastebaskets.
Seriously. It doesn't seem like much, but any small trashcans sitting around with trash in them are a hinderence on your cleanliness, and your state of mind. It's practically miraculous how instantly cleaner a room is when there isn't a pile of trash heaped in the basket by your desk, bed, or toilet. And it only takes like 30 seconds!
Empty it!
I get vanilla scented mini trash bags from the dollar store, and use those for all our small wastebaskets. It adds a touch of happy freshness to the process.

2. Have two minutes? Clear something off.
When I just finished reading, writing, or watching something, before I transition to something else (regardless of what it is, as long as I have time) I try to un-clutter something. Whether it's my coffee table, my kitchen counter, the tray I keep on the foot stool, or just the pillows and blankets on my sofa.
The first thing your eyes settle on that's more cluttered than it should be-- be it a desk, shelf, table, counter, whatever!-- fix it!
Put books back on the shelf, throw out the little bits of paper and plastic wrappers, stack the coasters, put the remotes back where you prefer them, wipe off the dust with a wet napkin. Even if part of this process is piling paperwork on your desk to file/throw out later, just focus on one space at a time. I mean, don't just move the mess somewhere else; put as much stuff as possible wherever it actually belongs.
Two minutes, that's all it takes, then you're off to do whatever you actually wanted to do.
Later, or tomorrow, do it again.

3. Put things back.
It seems like a simple enough thing to do, but we just can't seem to put things back where we got them!
Makeup from my (over-the-door) vanity pockets always seems to settle onto the bathroom sink, where there really is no room for them. Snack bags sit on end tables until the chips are stale. Remotes rest on the couch, eventually migrating to inside or behind the couch. Mugs stay on the counter, instead of the sink or dishwasher. Towels are abandoned on the floor. Books and notebooks always find themselves deserted on every possible flat surface.
If only we could put things back when we were finished with them, even if only for a while, the mess wouldn't add up, and the clutter would slowly but surely disappear.
The easiest way to avoid all that extra clutter is simply to put things where they belong. This both applies to after you've used it, and also that junk we always set down or pull out of our pockets as soon as we walk through the door. Don't let it happen. Either put it away immediately, or have a designated Junk Space where you can pile things to be sorted later.
If you can't seem to drop the habit, use those two minute clutter clean-ups to put everything that isn't in its proper place away. Not things that need to be cleaned, but just put in the proper place. Put all the laundry on the floor in its basket. Put all the mugs around the room in the sink. Put all the lost books on the shelf. One item at a time, or one room at a time. Only spend a few minutes on it, then move on with your day. This way, you won't feel like you're really cleaning at all, and -- hopefully-- it will simply become part of your transition from one activity to the other (even if those activities are watching tv to getting in the shower to watching more tv).

4. Clean as you do.
Generally, this phrase is 'clean as you cook,' meaning that as you make a meal, clean (or put in the dishwasher) each piece of kitchen equipment immediately after you use it. At the very least, rinse it and put it in the sink. This keeps your post meal cleaning a little simpler by cutting down on clutter.
But I think this applies to pretty much all activities. Working on a project? Put away everything you're done with as soon as you're done with it. Having a DVD marathon? Make sure the DVDs actually go back in their cases instead of sitting on the player. Have afternoon tea? Rinse that pot and put the settings away immediately after your finished. Sewing a new dress? Put away each piece of fabric, yarn, ribbon, or string away whenever you're not using it so it doesn't pile up around you.
You get the idea.

5. Use resources.
Check out websites, pinterest boards, and apps that encourage you to clean and help you get ideas. I know people who swear by "unfuck your habitat", and there are plenty of apps that help you manage your time between work, play, and chores.

6. Designate days.
Too busy to do more that a quick spree all week? Plan out one or two specific areas to do for each day of the week. This can be by cleaning type, by room, or however you feel helps you the most. For example, doing all the dishes on Mondays, cleaning tables and counter tops on Tuesdays, collecting all the trash (and taking it out) on Wednesdays, sweeping (and possibly mopping) the whole place (or just the dirtiest rooms) on Thursdays, and getting a load of laundry done on Fridays. For the weekend, do whatever is left to be done, like cleaning the bedroom, organizing your cluttered desk, or picking up laundry off the floor.

Honestly, my favorite way to clean, at the moment, is to put some music on and get started on the first simple thing I need to get done. Then, as I go, I just let myself get distracted by whatever mess catches my eye. I go for at least half an hour, but if I can do more, I just do it, keeping my stress level low by letting myself roam from task to task and back again with no pressure to finish a whole thing right away. When I lose steam, I do something that is more relaxing, like folding clothes or reorganizing my bookshelf until I feel like I can either go again, or just stop. No pressure, low stress, but a nice productive feeling.
It doesn't work all the time, but it's a good start to getting things done.

Have you tried any of these? What do you think?
What are your favorite quick and easy cleaning methods?

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