One of my favorite I Love Lucy shows is when Lucy’s mother-in-law comes for a visit. Lucy’s pretty relaxed about the preparations until Ethel scares Lucy about persnickety mother-in-laws who demand for everything to be clean. Even though Lucy’s television-set home looks fine, she decides to do a deep cleaning just in case. Of course, that means turning her house upside down so her house is a mess when her mother-in-law arrives.
I sympathize with Lucy. 😀
I’m not good at organizing. Scrubbing, polishing, scraping, washing, dusting, vacuuming–all good. Deciding how to handle years’ worth of accumulated clutter, not so much. I’ve tried all kinds of tips and tricks over the years, and I’ve come up with one solution that works whenever I have to get serious about cleaning:
I take a clipboard, pen, and paper, and I sit in the middle of each room. I look around and write down everything that needs attention. The only rule is that whatever needs to be done must be visible. So, for example, “clean under the bed” doesn’t count unless I can see under my bed. 🙂 I put down everything, even teeny things like “charge my phone” (true story) or “put trash in wastebasket” (even if there’s only one food wrapper on the floor). I repeat this in every room until I have a gigantic list (today, 62 items…so far).
Then I take one of two approaches.
1) I take 3-5 highlighters and color each item according to how long they will take (i.e., pink for tasks that will take fewer than 5 minutes, yellow for 5-10 minutes, green for 10-15 minutes, and blue for 15+ minutes). Then I go through and do all the pink tasks…it’s fun to cross all those items off the list very quickly! Sometimes I put items on the list just to be able to cross them off–such as hang up my car keys, shake out the welcome mat, or dump dirty clothes into the hamper. That’s three items right there. It feels good! I move on to each color, and by the time I get to the hard tasks I’ve built up enough momentum to power through the list.
2) I number all of the tasks and get a random number sequence from random.org. (That’s today’s method.) Just like my cleaning lottery (a topic for another day), the surprise of randomness helps to keep me motivated. It’s especially nice when I finish a big task, check my list for what’s next, and find something easy like “put away plastic bags.”
Either way, the hardest part is usually making up the list in the first place. But since I don’t do any work at that point (just writing, no cleaning), soon I find that I have a good, comprehensive list.
I’ve heard of people who tape a strip of bubble wrap alongside of their list, and they pop a bubble for each item completed. That’s too much work for me, but I do enjoy taking my pen to draw a thick line through my finished task.
I’ve also set out a range of boxes (one of my tasks today was to break down and take out cardboard boxes, but they might as well get used first). One for each room in my house, plus three more for give away, throw away, and keep but don’t know where it should go. When I have to do a hard job, like sorting through my closet, I line up my boxes so I can toss misplaced items into their assigned room-box. It saves me walking back and forth (and getting distracted) while clearing up the clutter.
I hope I’ll be ready for company by tomorrow night, but in the meantime…my worst fear is that they will arrive a day early. 😀 Funny how any cleaning method includes making a gigantic mess first. Hmm, that sounds like a metaphor for writing…or for life.
Nah, let’s not get deep today. Random.org tells me that my next task is to straighten the magnets, coupons, and papers on the fridge. Back to the grind…
What are your cleaning tips?