Finishing tasks: The key to less mess in your home

In a rare moment of solitude a few weeks ago, I found myself stomping through my house being extremely frustrated. Wood puzzle pieces were strewn across the living room floor where my two-year-old daughter had been playing earlier. Dirty clothes and a wet towel were next to the hamper in my six-year-old son’s bathroom. A lone plate sat on the table in the kitchen from a snack my husband had eaten earlier. And MY makeup was left out on the bathroom counter from that morning. I was annoyed with the mess, and I was as much responsible for it as everyone else in my house.

After I calmed my inner-Hulk down to a constructive level, I immediately identified the problem. No one in the house was properly finishing anything they were doing:

  • Taking a shower isn’t finished until the towel is on the towel bar, the wash cloth is wrung out and hanging on its clip to dry, dirty clothes are in the hamper, the bathroom lights are turned off, in addition to all the other obvious post-shower activities like getting dressed and brushing teeth. For a shower to be finished, everything has to be reset and ready to go for the next time someone comes in to use the bathroom.
  • A snack or dinner isn’t over until all the dirty dishes are loaded into the dishwasher or washed and put away, cupboards are closed and ingredients properly stored, the table and counters have been wiped down, the floor has been swept, all leftovers have been put into the refrigerator, and there are no signs that anyone had eaten a meal there except for maybe a lingering smell. Dinner isn’t over when you stop eating.
  • Playtime isn’t over until all toys are put away in their proper storage areas. This one is tricky because it requires continuous planning — time has to be set aside for picking up before going to the next activity. Until a child’s age is in double digits (and maybe even after that), it may require an adult to give a five-minute warning to allow time for toys to be put away. Or, in the case of small children like in our family, adults may need to participate in the five-minute pick up process.
  • And, obviously, I’m not finished getting ready in the morning until my makeup is back into its storage container and my hair dryer is stored beneath the sink.
  • It seems so obvious, but making sure tasks are finished greatly reduces messes in your home. It’s not rocket science, but the simple shift in perspective results in much less stress and a less messy home.

    5 Comments for “Finishing tasks: The key to less mess in your home”

    1. posted by infmom on

      Now if I could just get my husband to actually finish reading a magazine instead of laying it down on any nearby horizontal surface to “finish later.”

      Later never comes.

    2. posted by KittyLuvr on

      This is such a brilliant piece! I have just discovered this thought process and have found that it’s the root of ALL the mess in my home! Interruptions, new directions and just not wanting to complete a task have left many of the messes in my home. Now that I am aware I am trying hard to change this habit in myself.

    3. posted by LaVidaMd on

      This is a big one for me; I’m pretty sure I have ADD. I will get distracted and temporarily forget about what I had been doing a few minutes ago. Using a timer helps me when I notice that I’m getting distracted too easily.

    4. posted by Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 on

      I struggle to finish thoughts, much less projects! I agree this is a critical piece to having less clutter in your home. I do find it is easier to finish things (one project at a time, put the things you used for it away, etc), when you don’t have so much stuff and you follow the place for everything/everything in its place rule. I have to work on those goals every minute of every day.

    5. posted by Cindy Serikaku on

      This is spot-on! And it applies to a broader context. In my former work-life (and now volunteer-life), I have been amazed by the rampant lack of follow-through. Whether it’s “I’ll send you that article/link”; addressing a card but never mailing it; borrowing and not returning tape/a book/whatever; and the ever-popular “”We’ll do lunch.” Closure can be very comforting, and it creates order and trust.

    Comments are closed.