Organizing, Redesign & Staging

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Organized Cleaning

Cleaning -- one of my favorite activities (NOT). Bottom line, the less stuff you have, the less you have to: handle, move, touch, clean, store, etc. Sounds obvious, huh? But “lean and mean is easier to clean” is true, and is something you can control.

One method of cleaning is called “Eliminate the Evidence” (ETE); it basically means to pick up as you go. By doing so, you avoid marathon sessions of cleaning up. It may be helpful to tackle chores in baby steps, by doing a small number in a certain time frame that is doable for you, like in 15-minute increments.

Another technique is, for all the chores or tasks you want done, create a master list. Walk around your house, and write done everything that needs to be done by room. Highlight or cross out task when done. You can also think of your home as a tree and each room is a branch of that tree. For each branch, compile a list of all the tasks you'd need to accomplish to get that room to be the way you want it to be. Cycle through the branches, one per week, and spend just 15 – 30 minutes per day in your branch.

Give yourself little mental races: do a task during commercials before show comes back on, or the microwave dings, or see what can get done before something happens (i.e. work on a drawer until laundry is done or Johnny gets home). You’d be amazed at how much you can get done, either in breadth or depth, when you are motivated by time.

One overall tip for teaching children to make clean-up part of their routine involves attitude. Go in with a positive attitude. If you assume the worst before you have even begun, your partner and children will pick up on this. Explain that all the junk and mess is making you feel stressed and grumpy and that isn’t any fun to be around, and that the good thing is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Be clear about your intentions and when you think the time is right, ask for help. (Remember not to nag or you won't get anywhere!!)

Show that you are making a big effort to be better organized and less stressed. More than anything else, this will influence your family’s response to your new commitment to a clutter free house. For example, if you are given something you won’t use or do not like -- or you have something that breaks, that you know you will never get around to or isn’t worth fixing –- show the kids that you have changed and throw these items away or donate them to charity (which ever one is applicable). So when a toy breaks or a tool doesn’t work anymore you will more than likely be able to get them to do the same.
Explain that by helping keep their designated areas tidy, and junk free, you will all benefit. For the kids, explain that this may mean you will be more likely to let them have their friend over to play, go to the movies, have their favorite dinner, etc. -- if they do their bit. For hubby, it may be to explain, that with a little more input from him and lessening the load of those boring mundane jobs we all hate, you will have a healthier relationship as a result of feeling more appreciated.

Initially keep up your own good work without expecting your partner to notice or even comment about it let alone miraculously do the same thing. Have your own "to do" list somewhere your partner can see it and over time start a separate one for them (don't make it overwhelmingly long or this may frighten them off!). The fridge is a good place to put this. Be prepared to help your partner go through their things with them and remember to help them be ruthless in the filing or binning of it all. Tick off the jobs for both of you as you go -- if your partner hasn't done theirs already. Remember that the habits your family has formed didn’t happen overnight and you won’t be able to change them overnight. It may take a month or more, but it’s worth making a start to get back on track and being happier people as a result.