A plan, a deep dark secret, and a challenge. Intrigued?

My house is a little out of control at the moment. It happens to me too! But I have a plan …

No not that plan!

Not that plan! (Although it’s often a good one) …

Not even that one either ....


This is the plan!

It helps that I genuinely cleaning up, and when my house is tidy I feel relaxed and content. When my home is less than sparkling I feel overwhelmed, confused, repulsed and deeply uncomfortable – on some occasions I’d even say distressed.  Clutter makes me want to wrap my arms around myself and stand very very still in the midst of the chaos before launching into a spectacular decluttering frenzy (obviously not in anyone else’s house!). In fact, even if I loathed cleaning and tidying, I am so reliant on the calm and structure that an orderly environment brings me that I’d do it all the time anyway.

I can't bear to look.

The thing with having an organised home is that when things get off track and bit messy, you just need to correct it rather than start from scratch. For example, if I have some stuff lying around on my coffee table where it doesn’t belong, because everything already has a designated home it’s as simple as me taking it back there. I don’t need to engage in long discussions with myself about where each item should go, whether I need to clear out a new space for it, what else needs to be ditched to make room, or if it’s just easier to leave it there.

So here’s my plan for when I get home this evening to have a sparkling clean house by dinnertime! (I should note that Buzz will be working tonight; this is not a household in which women do the cleanin’ and the cookin’ while the menfolk do the drinkin’! We also try to have an hour each weekend when we clean at the same time to get on top of things, but with wedding preparations in full swing our recent weekends have been chockablock full of dance lessons, fittings and meetings, so we’ve had to let it slide).

This is our equal opportunity (to do housework) household!


Let’s get to it!

  • If I have laundry or wash or a full dishwasher, I put these on first so they can do their thing while I’m doing mine – I like my house to multitask with me!
  • As everything I have has its own home, a first step to cleaning up for me is always to do a walk-around. I simply move from room to room, picking up things that don’t belong and replacing things that do. Sometimes it takes me a couple of laps of the house to get everything back in its home if I can’t carry it all at once, but it’s a simple and quick process to scan to room, identify what doesn’t belong, pick it up and when I reach the room in which it should live, pop it back in its place.
  • Next I like to do specific tasks, such as emptying the dishwasher, taking clothes out of the washer or dryer or collecting clothes that need to be put away. Doing these things first allows me to clean last with clear surfaces and everything in its place – I run cleaning cloths and dusting cloths over surfaces including benchtops, tables, window sills and furniture – and anything that is dropped on to the floor is lastly picked up by a sweep or a vacuum (vacuuming is Buzz’s special job – I really, truly hate this task. I traded him the grocery shopping, which I love doing and he can’t stand – now that is marital cooperation at work!). I rarely have to thoroughly clean the kitchen as I do it every night, but I like to give the microwave a little attention and maybe even wipe down the fridge and empty out the crisper.
  • Finally – I tackle my clothes. This is my deep dark secret: I am terrible at putting my clothes away. I can’t go to bed until I’ve cleaned the kitchen, but a pile of clothes on a chair doesn’t keep me up at night. This is totally my problem area and one that I am constantly working on! I quite like folding the clean washing (creating order from chaos etc; very soothing!) but I have a real mental block about returning clothes to their place. I am really quite surprised by this as I love my clothes and I love seeing them all hanging up neatly and ready to be worn, but my treatment of them doesn’t really reflect this.

Multitasking is the name of the game!


And here is my challenge to myself: Every night for a week I will make sure that clean washing is folded and put away, and that any clothes that don’t need to be washed are also put away before bed. They can stay airing n the bedroom chair for a few hours, but if I’m in bed, they are too!

And I’m going to challenge you too! What is your ‘mental block’ task? What can’t you quite bring yourself to do? Will you challenge yourself to make it happen this week?


6 thoughts on “A plan, a deep dark secret, and a challenge. Intrigued?

  1. My mental block is clearing out the “in tray” at my desk. Shocking! I even have drop files sitting there so I can move stuff that has been dealt with from the in-tray into a specific file, but sometimes it just seems too hard! Because I now work at home most of the time, keeping our study/office area tidy is a real imperative. Not just from an aesthetic point of view, but to ensure that I’m organised in my working life!

    • Oh interesting one Sass! Do you have a mix of completed and uncompleted items on your inbox? Is it just a matter of moving them once done, or actioning them at all?

      I think the system you have is just not working. Systems need to complement that way you work, not the other way around. So time for a new one!

      – Could you clear five minutes at the end of the day (or even week) to file and do the whole lot of filing at once? This is what I do, using the Landing Pad in the kitchen (where I open and action mail, keep bills and invitations etc) to store things that are ready to be put away until there is enough to make it worthwhile to get the files out. Or you could apply a Two Minute Trick to it, which is just doing as much as you can in two minutes – not long enough to feel you can shirk it but enough to get a surprising amount done!

      – Do you pick paper up, deal with it and then return it to the inbox? If so, I suspect that your drop files are what is blocking you from putting it away in the correct place, because you’re returning it to somewhere, just not the right somewhere. You may prefer to ditch the drop files altogether. Personally I dislike them because they are like little vertical crevasses of death! Would you prefer filing that is easier to see, like a folder?

      – Is it because the inbox isn’t complex enough to deal with your To Dos? One solution is to have those stackable trays. One is In: stuff you have not yet read. Two is Action: things you have to do. Three is Urgent: Do it right now! Four is: Done; to be filed. This helps your Inbox work a little harder to help you identify what’s what in there, and you can also see exactly what you need to put away.

      Alternatively, a good way to visualise how often we are handling things (and therefore how much time we’re wasting with it) is to put a little sticky dot on the top of the page every time you touch it – this might be a shock tactic for you!

      Happy filing!

  2. I need those mop thongs *laughs*. I totally agree that it feels better when the house is sparkling and organised, but sadly I can never seem to keep it that way 24/7. I blame my housemate (otherwise known as the fiance).

    I have a mental block with vacuuming. The noise, the moving of furniture, the smell (?!), and the fact that it feels a little bit too much like working out. The boy came with his own vacuum, which is very efficient but it is also heavy and sucks so hard that it’s difficult to push. So I have effectively played the weaker vessel and now it’s his job *evil grin*

    I need to follow your lead on all of this organisational stuff.

    • I am also a vacuum-o-phobe! I love having a vacuumed house, but hate the process … and with two indoor cats and a dog, plus my hair, our house is always on the verge of needing a thorough vac. I like your tactic of assigning the task to the boy (as I have done the same) and I actually think this is quite a good way to keep a well-run house, as it makes accountability clear and also increases the likelihood that it will be done because the person who hates it most isn’t assigned to it!

  3. I’m still going strong! Today is 15 August so I’m 6 days into my Clothes Away Challenge and no fails so far! Well maybe one bra but that’s it. It’s been easy if I just remember! How are you going?

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