Systems for straightening up your home

I am easily distracted, so I have to use little tricks to keep me on task when doing my 30 minutes of picking up around the house each day. If I’m straightening up a room, I’ll close the door to the room so I don’t wander off into another part of the house. If the room doesn’t have a door, I’ll set something in front of the entrance — like a trash can or a chair — as a visual cue to stay in the room until I’m finished with my work.

I also usually have a laundry basket with me where I put things that don’t belong in the room. Then, after I’m finished straightening a room, I’ll walk through the house and put the things in the basket back to their proper storage spaces.

This past weekend, I decided to embrace my distracted self and try a new method for picking up stray items around the house. I named it my “Wherever I may go” system.

I started in the bedroom and worked in there until I found one of my son’s socks under the bed. I took the sock and carried it to the laundry room. Once in the laundry room I noticed the trash needed to be emptied, so I took the laundry room bag of trash outside to the big trash can. When I came back inside, I washed my hands in the guest bathroom and noticed the toilet paper supply was getting low. I retrieved extra rolls of toilet paper from the linen closet and put them in the toilet paper holder in the bathroom. Then, I went back to the linen closet and took a quick supply inventory to evaluate if I need to buy soap or paper towels or any similar items the next time I’m at the grocery store.

I bounced from room-to-room all morning, tending to whatever caught my attention. I’ll admit that the “Wherever I may go” system took significantly longer than my usual method, but it was nice to switch things up a little and see how another style might work for me.

When straightening up around your home, what is your plan of attack? Do you go room-by-room, or are you more of a “Wherever I may go” type? If you go room-by-room, do you work in the same order of rooms each time? Do you work in the same way around each room? (I do. I move clockwise from the door, focusing from the ceiling to the floor, and then tend to the middle of the room last.) What method do you use every day for picking up around your home?

63 Comments for “Systems for straightening up your home”

  1. posted by writingallthetime on

    I do both methods. Every time I go from one room to another, something gets returned to its rightful home.
    For cleaning rather than de-cluttering, I focus on one area, starting at the top and moving down most of the time.
    When we expect guests, the public parts of the house – living room, bathroom, entry – get the most attention in terms of cleaning and de-cluttering both.

  2. posted by Vicky on

    I always thought I was the only one who needed to mark there space with visual cues. If I start laundry in the morning before work, I always leave the door to the laundry room open to remind me to put them in the dryer.

  3. Avatar of

    posted by suzjazz on

    I’ve addressed the problem on several fronts.
    I get rid of clothes and old household items regularly, with a couple of bags that sit on the stair landing–I just throw stuff into the bags and take them to Goodwill when they are full. Slowly but surely we are reducing the amount of stuff we own. As far as picking up is concerned: I have a place for everything and try to consistently replace items after using them. (BF isn’t as good at this as I am but is learning) Getting into this habit reduces clutter, although when I am tired I tend to just let things pile up. Then when I have a day off I go from room to room picking things up and putting them away. Like other people who have posted, I keep a basket of cleaning supplies in the bathroom under the sink and have kitchen/dusting cleaning supplies in a kitchen cabinet. I wipe off surfaces every day because I am squeamish about stickiness and germs. I leave post-it notes in prominent places to remind me to put laundry in the dryer, or I will stick a note on BF’s computer. I have paper recycling bins in several rooms and consolidate them in one large bin in the office before taking it out to our curbside recycling bin. I tend to be obsessive about keeping things clean and neat because I can’t focus and work at home when things are in disarray.

  4. posted by Letitia on

    I really need to avoid the wherever-way of doing it. Before I started working on organizing and decluttering I always used this method. With a guaranteed 150% clutter raise with every cleaning session: e.g. I start to organize the wardrobe, empty some shelves on the bed, in baskets and on the ground, then: I find a single sock that I know has a mate in the laundry room, so I go there, find the sock and start pairing all the other socks. Phone rings, I find myself in the office and see a stack of books to organize, one of the books should go on the shelf in the living room. I go there, find the order of books is not nicely arranged by colour, start doing that etc. 3 hours later, every room is a bigger mess than it was.

    I adapted it and use a new way:
    I only clean with a timer on 10 minutes, so when it beeps I am reminded that I started something 10 minutes ago… Then if I catch myself going to another room, I place the item there, promising myself that my next 10 minutes will be spent in that room. Then I will return to the original room that I need to finish in 10 minute increments, knowing that soon I will have a 10 minute “break” in the form of that other room.

  5. posted by elizabeth on

    when my intention is to clean, i am a room by room … but i am a wherever i may go when i am just tidying up …. and then it is just as you describe … oh, a stray sock… to the laundry room … oh, need more detergent … make a list … oh, kitchen counter is cluttered, tidy … might as well wipe down the counters …. let’s do the kitchen table too … i bet the coffee table could use a wipe … and the mantle … oh, what’s this doing on the mantle, i’ll go put it away ….

  6. posted by JC on

    Our family of four lives in a large house. The house is larger than we currently need because when we built it we had planned on adopting more children. The emerging special needs of our daughter put a permanent kibosh on bringing any more children into our home. We are staying here until the housing market recovers and then will downsize- could be 5-10 more years.

    Not every chore needs to be done every day so I have sorted the work and have a different check off list for every day of the week. If I use the lists consistently, the house stays in pretty good condition. When my cleaning time gets annexed by family emergencies, things aren’t quite so neat and I have to simply do the minimal basic cleaning with what little time I have at that moment.

  7. posted by Natalie in West Oz on

    Which method of cleaning I use depends on which room I start in! If i start in my youngest childs room (he’s 7), I will have a lot of things to put in other rooms as he tends to collect things that arent his to play with.

    If I start in my room, its the same as we tend to drop things in our room as a quick fix to tidying up when only given short notice of impending visitors.

    Surprisingly enough if I start in my ADHD son’s room, I can stay there as he doesnt ‘borrow’ other peoples things, he just doesnt put away his own!!!

    I enjoy the wander from room to room thing though. I put on a a pedometer one day and had done half my daily steps requirements just pottering around the house.

  8. posted by Jess@minimalistmum on

    I often wander about picking up as I go, but I get little satisfaction from multiple rooms that look only marginally better than they did, and the mileage required? Bleah! I’d rather work efficiently and use any extra energy in washing windows or something.

    Check out my Baby Central method at http://minimalistmum.blogspot......yself.html

  9. posted by katrina on

    I use a combination of 2 methods. Generally, every time I leave a room I take something that belongs in the room I’m going to (if there’s something that needs returning).

    When I clean, I take the laundry basket with me and any stray objects are put into the basket. Then when I’ve finished tidying/cleaning a room I deal with the items in the basket.

  10. Avatar of

    posted by Maura on

    I call your “Wherever I May Go” method “puttering”…. Or, “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie-Syndrome”.

    I CONTINUALLY strive to become more focused, and complete tasks from start to finish. But, alas, I often have too many balls in the air at once.

  11. posted by Ann on

    I also call the “Wherever I May Go” method “puttering,” as does Maura. Puttering is sort of recreational for me, and can take expand to take up large quantities of time. To try to keep the time limited, I sometimes give myself a certain number of things that I plan to pick up per session, such as, “Pick up seven things, wherever I may go deal with these seven things.”

  12. posted by dandyrose on

    I do both methods. I tend to do “wherever I may go” as maintenance, but if I am having company I will do a clean sweep of the common rooms.

    I tend to integrate “wherever I may go” into other activities. I’m watching TV and want to go get a glass of water, so I grab anything from the living room that belongs in the kitchen or dining room, and deliver it to its rightful place before getting water. Going back to the TV, I will grab the dirty kitchen towel and drop it in the laundry room on my way.

  13. posted by Leszek Cyfer on

    Room by room, followed by photo session – I make photos of all rooms, then sit and watch the photos. It’s funny how looking at a room it appears perfectly fine and shiny, then looking at a photo of the same room it is as if shells have fallen off from your eyes and you see all the things to fix.

    Then i fly around in ADHD manner, from time to time looking at the photos again :)

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