Monday, August 17, 2009

Clean as you go

In our church we have a scripture that talks about not procrastinating the day of our repentance until it is everlastingly too late. The idea is that you are better off if you repent immediately after you discover you have sinned.

In the realms of home organization, this principle transfers over nicely into the principle of not procrastinating cleanup. Life is messy. Life is chaotic. You can keep it from getting out of hand if you build the habit of cleaning up after doing each thing. Work to train your family to do this too.

If you're a chronic leave-it-out-er, this will take a lot of effort until you realize that you can work cleaning-as-you-go into your life just by changing some really simple 5 second things.

Cleaning as you go means the clothes end up in the dirty hamper (if dirty) or back in the closet/dresser drawers (if not dirty) as soon as you take them off. The thing that you can change is to always stand next to your clothes hamper while taking off dirty clothes and then drop them in. And always stand next to your dresser or closet while taking of clean clothes and then put them away while you have them still in hand.

This practice is both efficient and organizing. It is efficient because you have just saved yourself the effort of having to pick your clothes up again later. It is organized because you have put something in the correct place. (Yes, that is what organizing is.)

We are all at various stages of development and it takes time to form new good habits. Even those of us who think of ourselves as organized are still trying to improve the way we do things.

One change I recently made in my own life on the cleaning-as-you-go front was to make the effort to keep my kitchen sink and counters clean of grime, stains, and crumbs. For me this meant that I had to add a few small steps to my cleanup after meals. I'm already in the habit of loading the dishwasher immediately after meals, so after I do that, I take about 3 minutes to wipe down the kitchen sink and the counters. So far I really like how this has saved me from mad scrubfests over a dingy sink to remove 3-month layers of grime. I like my clean sink and counters.

Some things to which we can apply clean-as-you-go:
  • Pay bills as you get the mail
  • Close all documents and windows as you leave your computer.
  • Record all purchases and do the subtraction as soon as you complete a financial transaction.
  • Put away the craft supplies when you are done with your craft for the day.
  • Put the books back in the shelf when you stop reading.
  • Put the newspapers in the recycling bin (or trash) when you are finished reading them.
  • Put the tools back when you are finished working with them or when you stop working on a project for the day.
  • Put the hose back when you are done watering the lawn or washing the car.
  • Put the game away when you're finished playing.
A wonderful thing happens when you commit to cleaning-as-you-go. The more I clean-as-I-go, the easier it is for me to recognize how I can make storage more efficient. I hate having to go five different places to put something away. I start thinking of ways that I can store things together that get used together.

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