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Monday, June 4, 2012

The Pick Five Rule of Daily Equalizing for Your Rooms

I have a rule that I made up in regards to daily equalizing. Equalizing your home is what brushing your teeth, washing your face & brushing your hair each morning is to yourself- it's just grooming to look nice & stay well-maintained. That's it. If the room ends up also smelling great, that's an added bonus! Well, to be fair, I have a couple of rules regarding equalizing. The first is that no room should EVER take more than fifteen minutes to clean up after every day, with maybe the exception of the kitchen, because that tends to be such a workhorse room in a home. My second rule is that when I'm running short on time, having a moment of brain fog, dead tired or under some kind of stress which makes me unfocused, I only pick three to five things to do for each room, to get it equalized beautifully. When I'm really dead on my feet, like if I get sick, I pick three things to do, and that's that. If I accomplish those things, I celebrate it, move on to the next room, and kick any guilt right out the door. If I do nothing else that day for the room, I do these things. In some rooms, other than a weekly changing of sheets or running a vacuum periodically, those few things may actually end up being all you ever have to do. You can choose to do the few things in one room, then work on some task that is totally unrelated to housework without feeling bogged down. Or you can do everything at once, room by room, and be done for the day. You may not get to every single room every day. That's fine- do what you can. Three times a week of straightening up a room is a whole lot better than zero times a week, right?

My first example to share with you would be my bedroom, also known as my haven. I allow nothing negative into this room, and that includes (especially) clutter. When every other room could go to pot, I will still keep up with this room, because it's my sanctuary. These are my five picks to keep that room beautiful every day:

1) Make the bed_
2) Spritz the bed & any other soft items with Earth Friendly Citrus Fabric Refresher_
3) Take the matching Pure Citrus Spray in Orange & spritz it once in the room_
4) Take care of any hot spots (sleep mask left out on the nightstand when it should be in the drawer, mini-blinds dangling crookedly, anything that needs my attention), which is just another way of saying straighten up the room_
5) Run my feather duster quickly over every hard surface_

I promise you, do these few brief things daily, and your bedroom will never, never, never look like a tornado went through it again. Keep the clutter off of your surfaces, and the dusting will go lightning-fast. It'll also smell delicious. If you're allergic to fragrance or dislike it, just eliminate any steps that include it. If the pick five rule is too much (and it's perfectly okay if it is), settle on another number. But try to keep it consistent in both the number of steps, the order in which they're performed & exactly what you do, because that is the way routines are built. And routines are the very foundations of our lives. Don't be afraid to set ground rules with others, and with yourself, insomuch as how far the clutter can go in any one room. If people beyond the age of two are consistently leaving out so much stuff for you that there's no way you can get a room clean in fifteen minutes, even if you work on it daily, something is not right. I'm not talking about special occasion chores that are going to take a bit longer, like flipping over a mattress. I'm talking about daily clutter, messes that people discourteously leave behind. I'm not saying that you have to be a nag- if it's a single dish & a sheet of newspaper they've left out, obviously it won't take you very long to get that stuff put away in it's proper place. I'm talking about heavy-duty trashing of a room, which kids especially can be great at. Don't raise your kids not to pick up after themselves. You're not doing them any favors- trust me. The sooner a person learns in life that they have to pick up after themselves, learn how to do laundry correctly & keep a clean home correctly, the better off they'll be in life. Their relationships, jobs & finances will all be better for learning this discipline now, if it's not innate to them. I say this as a formerly messy person who never had chores to perform until I was thirteen & couldn't stand the chaos I lived in anymore, too. I'm not naturally disciplined, and a lack of learning these tools early on did hurt me, even if it seemed like I lived on Easy Street growing up.

This can be a fun way of looking at things. The brain doesn't usually care too much for a list of things to be performed without knowing exactly what the numbers of things you have to do are in advance, or the time you'll be spending on the chores. It can lead to procrastination, perfectionism, frustration & not feeling accomplished. Life is too short to walk around feeling guilty about what you didn't get done that day. That changes when you say, "Only five (or three) things to do!", or "Only fifteen minutes in this room to clean it for today!"

No one should ever say that simplifying, equalizing, organizing or cleaning has to be utilitarian & strict. You don't have to just tack up a Post-it note somewhere, especially in a room you want to keep pretty. Make use of your innate creativity. Print up your list in a big, beautiful font, in your favorite color, maybe with a favorite symbol (a star, butterfly, rose, etc.) or a photo of someone you love on it somewhere. Hang it up on the wall after putting it in a pretty frame, and behind glass, then put it somewhere that you'll never miss seeing it, for example. Over your bed, next to your desk on the wall, across from the loo, wherever it works. :)

Here's my list, room-by-room in my house, to help you gather your own pick three or pick five rules together. My second bedroom usually gets the same treatment daily as my own bedroom.

Each Bathroom (I have two full baths in my home, no half-baths):
1) Wipe down mirrors, vanity, toilet tank & the floor around the toilet with a cleaning cloth & Earth Friendly Window Cleaner_
2) Clean the toilet bowl w/ a gurgle of Earth Friendly Toilet Cleaner & a toilet brush_
3) Spray Citrus Meadows Lysol Disinfectant on faucet handles, toilet flusher, toilet brush handle, doorknob & light switch_
4) After my shower, wipe down the shower tile/tub with a clean white hand towel, then put that wet hand towel in the hamper set aside for dirty towels_
5) Remove full trash bag, if needed, and put in new bag (also, replace facial tissue box & toilet paper, right as they are used up)_

Computer Room:
1) Clean out the litter box (this room where the box is kept; I keep a small bin of strong plastic grocery bags for this purpose right next to the box, then just toss the grocery bag into the larger trash bag in the kitchen)_
2) Dust my computer desk every other day_
3) Spritz Earth Friendly Citrus Fabric Spray on soft surfaces_
4) Spritz Pure Citrus Spray in Orange once in the room_
5) Remove the trash from the room, if the trash bag in the can is full, and put a fresh bag in the can_

Living/Dining Room (it's all one big room):
1) Brush down upholstered furniture with a firm-bristled brush to remove hair, fur & dust off of it quickly
2) Quickly feather-dust hard surfaces_
3) Spritz Earth Friendly Citrus Fabric Spray on soft surfaces_
4) Spritz Pure Citrus Spray in Orange once in the room_
5) Remove the trash from the room, if the trash bag in the can is full, and put a fresh bag in the can_

1) Unload/load/run the dishwasher, as needed_
2) Wash any dirty pots or pans (after letting them soak, if needed)_
3) Wipe down the countertops & stovetop_
4) Shine the sink & faucet_
5) Replace the kitchen hand towel & dishtowel_

I've also created a free, downloadable & printable version of this in PDF format for you:

Make equalizing really easy on yourself. Every single item in your space needs to have a home, and that home can't be relocated all the time. The more times you put something back in it's proper home, the easier it'll get, until it's just second nature to put it there every time. If you don't have room for it, you have to find some way to make room for the item or let it go. Otherwise, you'll never be able to quickly equalize a room each day. Purchase a caddy to hold your feather duster, Febreze sprays or any other supplies you need, both for carrying these items around, and for the actual permanent storage of them. You may find out that you were never actually the problem behind your clutter at all- it may be a problem with not having found the storage solution you needed. People can spend years believing that they're chronically messy only to realize it was their environment that was the problem, not them! Until I got a good caddy for my living room items, for example, I could not keep my end table by my favorite chair neat. Once I got my caddy (which had to be big enough & organized enough to hold all of my supplies easily & distinctly) & designated a home for each item in a particular slot, my perpetual clutter problem on the end table disappeared forever. If you have steps in your home, put a basket on the stairs that you can carry back & forth to haul items up or down in. Get your filing system in order so that the papers coming in every day have a place to go. Toss unneeded papers from those files so there's room for the new papers that arrive. Keep a trashcan in every room, even if it does make the room look less "beautiful"- as long as it makes the space more functional, that's what really counts. Just putting one trashcan in the living room, instead of forcing everyone to take every bit of trash into the kitchen (like already-read newspapers, used paper napkins, unneeded envelopes that came with a bill, etc.)- that right there can stop other people's paper clutter problem dead in it's tracks forever. Eliminate excessive furniture, knick-knacks & things up on your walls if it's taking too long to dust, vacuum or otherwise clean. Take back your house!

Here's to being an organized minimalist,

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