I like the word “homekeeping, even though my auto-spell-corrector wants me to hyphenate it. It’s akin to housekeeping (incidentally not hyphenated), but more personal.
If you don’t have a housekeeper, whom we generally think of as hired help, then someone or several someones have to “keep” things running in your home. In the organizing world, we know it’s all about the systems and processes.
Those of us who struggle with perfectionism–which ironically almost always results in an inversely-proportionate level of actual “perfection” in the home (i.e., the greater the perfectionism, the messier the house)–often grapple with the implementation of said systems and processes essential to keeping a tidy, functional home.
So to encourage you to get creative to overcome your own perfectionism–or just to give you some amusement at my expense if that’s not your struggle–I am sharing with you 7 crazy things I do to overcome homekeeping perfectionism. I almost guarantee you’ll feel better about yourself after reading this, for one reason or another.
#1 I dust in the dark.
Okay, dusting is not technically a part of organizing but is usually the first thing you do when a room is tidy. When I am cleaning in a hurry (hahahahahaha!!…as if there has ever been a time when I was just leisurely dusting along…) I sometimes dust in the dark.
No, not by candlelight (hmmm, although…), but I sometimes intentionally don’t turn on every light in the room or even pull up the shades to properly illuminate my work–which is normally a MUST for me.
But I purposefully “dust in the dark” to avoid fussing over every stray speck of dirt.
It takes me about half the time as I blissfully swipe a dust rag or feather duster over the furniture, knowing I’ve at least “visited every surface,” but don’t find myself hours later prying the dust out of all the groves of the piano with an old toothbrush.
(Some of you are laughing your heads off right now at the idea of stressing out over dusting, but the struggle is real, people!!)
#2 I use a timer for anything and everything.
Procrastination is a close cousin to disorganization, and nothing fuels the fires of procrastinators as much as the internal argument, “it’ll take forever!” The timer proves to me over and over that cleaning the bathroom or going through the mail or putting away the laundry indeed does not take forever.
I’m repeatedly amazed at how much less time most tasks require than what I imagine. Furthermore, the timer sets a limit on tasks that I just can’t get excited about. I can see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
Even for lengthy, ongoing tasks, I can chip away at them with bearable snatches of time, all thanks to my handy-dandy timer. It often tricks perfectionists like me into thinking I’m not doing a chore that I dread, but instead playing a delightful little game that involves a race against the clock.
(Some of you are shaking your heads now, going, “I knew she was crazy!”)
#3 I start with the smallest/easiest room.
If things have gotten a little bit out of hand in my home, and I don’t know where to start (i.e., my house looks like a bomb went off in it) I start with the smallest room.
In my house that happens to be a small guest bath/powder room. No matter what’s happened in there, (What could possibly happen in a guest bath/powder room, you ask? Well, I could go into detail about the time our new kitten had to be quarantined in there and had explosive diarrhea, but I’ll just let you use your imagination…) it only takes a matter of minutes to do a complete reset of the room: everything in place, tidy and clean.
It’s kind of the concept of grabbing the low-hanging fruit first to overcome the “I-don’t-know-where-to-start” syndrome. From there I move on to the next smallest room in the house and repeat.
By the time I get to the larger, more difficult rooms to maintain, I have confidence and momentum from having conquered several rooms quickly and easily, and I usually don’t hesitate to go on and finish “resetting” each room to a semblance of its optimum condition. If I start getting bogged down, I layer on method #2.
#4 I do tidying separately from cleaning.
Cleaning seems to be what I procrastinate doing in my mind, but I find when things are tidy, I don’t want to leave them dirty.
As an organizer, I don’t do serious “cleaning” for clients (best leave that to the cleaning experts!), but I always have a dust-rag handy in my toolkit, because as you organize and tidy, you almost can’t resist cleaning a little as you go. Once everything is sorted out and straightened up, it seems a shame to not knock the dust off.
So for me, tidying or resetting everything into its place is not a job I dislike. In truth, what I dislike and avoid are tasks that seem impossible. And cleaning a room that is a hot mess does seem impossible, until you tidy it. Then the actual cleaning is not hard at all.
So I often begin by tidying all rooms before I ever clean a thing. Do I love it? Well, let’s not go crazy here. (By the way, if things have really gone South here at Kelly Cottage, I combine methods 4, 3 and 2.)
#5 I use toilet paper to clean my toilets.
Maybe TMI, but I clean my toilets with toilet paper. (The outer portion–no, not the bowl). And different pieces for different parts.
I use a homemade spray made of rubbing alcohol, water, and sometimes some essential oils. I spritz, then wipe with toilet paper. And then flush it.
I’m actually by far not the worst germaphobe in my house, but my perfectionism worries me to death about cross-contamination and overrides my need to be green, pretty much convincing me I’ll never get the toilet bacteria out of reusable rags or sponges.
I know, I know, there’s probably even more bacteria on the kitchen sink (don’t get me started)–still don’t wanna wash those rags in the same washer with my dish towels or keep using the same sponge all over.
So I keep a bottle of spray near every toilet and can freshen them up any time with the t.p. that hangs conveniently nearby. That’s my “system” and I’m stickin’ to it.
#6 I Have company over occasionally.
This one only seems crazy if your house looks like mine does
sometimes often. No I don’t regularly use my company as an impetus to get my act together, but I’m just sayin’… having an external deadline to get things moving along is sometimes just what the doctor ordered.
If hosting a gathering finally motivates you to pick up that underwear out of the floor, it’s sort of a win-win, no?
Much like the timer phenomenon, where previously there was a conundrum of where to start, next steps suddenly become amazingly obvious.
The idea of someone else coming into your home often gives you fresh perspective–(or panic)–as if you’re viewing each room through the eyes of your prospective guests.
#7 I use fun, gimmicky apps on my phone and tablet.
Again, this one may not seem crazy to many of you, unless you’re as un-tech-savvy as I am. But seriously, embrace 21st century technology to make things fun.
Any time I can take the focus off of my never-ending, albeit delusional quest for perfection, and have a little fun, I’m already on my way to overcoming the perfectionism.
Several months back, while surfing other organizing sites (yes, I do that for kicks…) I ran across an app that I now use all the time to keep up with daily home tasks that tend to slip through the cracks.
There are dozens out there, but this one is as simple as it gets, so it’s right for me. There are bright colors, cute icons, and customizable alarm sounds.
Fun. Again, it makes mundane tasks seem more like a game, helping me focus, while at the same time keeping me from forgetting to do important items that I don’t want to write down day after day, but which haven’t yet become ingrained as a habit. Who knew those new-fangled things could be so useful?
In reviewing my list, I realize that I have literally done all seven crazy things at once, usually starting with #6 (I also realize that I apparently love ellipses… and parenthetical editorializing). I’ve heard it said that “necessity is the mother of invention.” I think in my case, it’s more like “hospitality is the mother of desperation.” Now you know all my dirty little secrets… then again no, not all…
Are you feeling better about yourself, yet? Feel free to share your own crazy homekeeping antics in the comments. Unless I’m the only one…