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Tidying Hack: Invite Guests Over

May 9th, 2010

Have you ever started cleaning your house only to find yourself exhausted hours later with little to show for your efforts? The biggest problem I had with cleaning is that to do a good cleaning job takes a really long time and it isn’t appreciated. When you have guests over do you think they’ll notice if you dusted underneath the plant on the shelf? Or if they’ll check to see if you vacuumed underneath the couch? Unless they’re slightly crazy they won’t care and my guess is that 99% of the time you won’t either. So the question that comes to mind is why bother?

Trim n' Tidy Cleaners Sign
Photo by Pixeljones’

Spending a full day a week cleaning is pointless when a couple hours tidying will do

Instead of cleaning like a maniac every so often, why not tidy a bit more frequently? The idea is good in theory but unless you like to clean its not fun! We spend way too much time in our attempt to clean when tidying would be much faster. Just so that we’re clear what I mean by spending too much time is devoting 4 hours to get your place say 90% clean when a single hour got you to 80%. That extra 10% of cleanliness for 3 times the effort is what drains us from wanting to clean (or tidy in the first place). A tidy house isn’t necessarily spotless and clean everywhere, it is clean and neat without clutter and crap all over the place. The reality is that most of us would be quite happy with a tidy house.

The ultimate Tidying Hack!

What is the one thing that you inevitably do when you have company over? You tidy the house a bit so they don’t have to kick your dirty socks off the couch to sit on it. You don’t spend countless hours cleaning but you make an effort so that the place isn’t a disaster area. It provides the necessary motivation for you to get the proverbial pig sty in order. The best part is you’ve got a time limit! Once you add in the inevitable procrastination you’re probably left with only a couple hours to get the place in order (if you’re lucky). If you hate cleaning but want to get your place somewhat tidy, have some guests over. It’ll get you into gear and force you to get a simple surface cleaning in and getting stuff out of the way.

While not a solution to getting organized it does make your place look better and at least tidy, the net result is that you feel better about it (at least for a bit). I actually found that by having guests over once in a while we managed to get the place tidy fast without going overboard trying to make everything perfect. Inviting guests over is a great way to get your place tidy fast without going overboard.

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Preparing Your House for Winter

November 11th, 2008

Now that fall is upon us there are a bunch of things that you should consider around your house to prepare for the winter months. Unless you happen to live in a warm climate there’s a good chance that you’ll need to ensure your house is ready for winter.

Items to check for:

  • Eaves
  • Cleaning up leaves
  • Check your windows and doors
  • Do you have the supplies you’ll need?(salt, shovels)

Why do it?

By maintaining your house you increase the longevity of the outside items – over time it’ll save you money on repairs and help maintain the value of your house.

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Keeping Trash

October 2nd, 2008

One of the most absurd things that you can do is to keep trash yet this is exactly what most of us end up doing. The first thing most people will do is deny the fact they keep trash but they do, I know I do from time to time. Now before I go any further I should quantify what I mean by keeping trash, I’m not refering to actual garbage that ends up in the dump (though some of it should). What I’m referring to are items that are no longer useful; they’re broken and should be taken out with the trash.

What kind of trash people keep around?

When an appliance like a toaster stops working as well as we would like it too or worse still breaks we get a new one to replace it. A lot of the time that appliance or item gets put into the basement or tucked away somewhere just in case. This stuff is now junk that clutters up our lives and it doesn’t just include toasters but pretty much everything. For years I kept an old printer around that still worked but I never used it because it wasn’t very good. I had gotten a replacement and was using that.

Take a good look at your stuff and pick out the trash

Next time you’re in the process of cleaning out your garage or basement look at all the stuff you’ve kept just in case. When a new piece of furniture comes into the house the old one gets kept for emergencies that never come up. Granted some of the trash we keep has potential value but for the most part these items are nothing more than trash.

Trash forces us to buy bigger homes.

My wife and  I recently moved into a larger home and I’m starting to notice a lot of items are being kept around even though they have no real purpose anymore. These items are trash or they will be soon enough. Once our house becomes overly cluttered we’ll start thinking we need a bigger home when in reality we need to get rid of stuff.

Getting rid of the trash

We become attached to our possessions for some reason and we have difficulty throwing them out. How many people keep their old cell phones just because there’s a ring tone we used to have on it or a phone number we’ll never call? You have to be ruthless with your trash, if there is no reason to keep an item get rid of it; don’t let it clutter up your life.

Photo by Mugley

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Destroying Magazines to Declutter

September 10th, 2008

photo by iamhannah

Magazines and newspapers can take up a great deal of space if you let them. There was a great post over at Productivity 501 where they suggested destroying your magazines. Personally I think this is a great idea – keep only the stories that you need and just get rid of everything else. I know this doesn’t work for everyone since people sometimes share magazines or want to keep them, but in general the practice can really help keep down the clutter of magazines.

When you get a new magazine go through it and tear out the stories that you want to read then get rid of the rest. Once you’ve read the stories you can decide if you want to keep them or get rid of them. Most of the time the information can be found online so you’re safe getting rid of the magazine. Keeping a few magazines isn’t a bad thing but when you have dozens of them littering your house you end up with clutter.

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Donate Your Old Clothes

September 4th, 2008

One of the big things that clutter up a house is clothing. Even if you keep your clothes organized and neat in your closets there is a good chance that you’ve got a bunch of clothes that you no longer use or no longer fit. A great way to declutter your house is to go through all those old clothes and get rid of the ones that you don’t use or don’t fit.

Be ruthless

I know I’ve made impulse purchases in the past where I bought clothes and never wore them. It was a good idea at the time but I ended up wasting money on something that now takes up space in my closet and my dressers. Get rid of this stuff, even if there’s a tag still attached to the item. If you’re particularly attached to your old clothes have a friend help you sort through the clothing. Reducing clutter can really simplify your house.


Rather than simply throwing out the clothing donate it, most cities have charities that accept clothing as donations. If the clothing you’re getting rid of is in pretty good shape give it to one of these charities. By doing this you can help while clearing out clutter.

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A clean slate

July 3rd, 2008

The main reason that I wanted to start this blog was to write about my experiences in simplifying our new house. I started this site before we got into our new house in hopes that I would be able to get a jump start on the process. Unfortunately life doesn’t always give us the time to do what we would like. We’re in our new house now and we’re starting to get things organized.

We, my wife and I, have a clean slate for the simplified house and a great deal of stuff that we need to do. There are more things to do than I would like but the most important part is that we’ve got a fresh start and some extra space to get ourselves organized. The first project that we’ll be undertaking before we unpack everything is painting the walls – though this will have to be done around working schedules. A significant chunk of this will happen over the weekend and I’ll post about our experiences early next week.

Keeping a house simple shouldn’t be hard but I find that our lives are inundated with stuff and clutter that are totally unnecessary. We buy all sorts of new things and when it comes down to it there’s no reason to spend all that extra money or keep all that stuff. I tried to declutter as I packed but inevitably a lot of stuff came along for the move. After the paining it will be time for another round of decluttering.

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Need to Clean? Invite Guests

June 3rd, 2008

One of the things I remember most about Rita Emmett’s book The Procrastinator’s Handbook is a suggestion she gives when trying to motivate yourself to clean. The suggestion is just as the title says – if you need to clean invite some guests over. The reason it struck me so much is that its very true. I know personally I don’t like to clean but when I know I have someone coming over I will make an effort to get the house de-cluttered and organized for their arrival.

The benefit here is that we don’t have to clean the place from top to bottom when we invite our friends over; we just have to make it neat and tidy. This is a great way to get yourself into gear and it works quite well, at least for me because by inviting someone over we set a deadline for ourselves and we don’t have the luxury to be half done when they arrive. It also prevents us from making more of the job than a quick tidying up is.

Another thing to remember is this quick clean is a great starting point for keeping your place neat and organized all the time. Maintaining a clean house or a clean kitchen is less effort than doing a mass cleaning once in a while (and mentally less draining). If you need more ideas on motivating yourself especially if you’re a procrastinator check our Rita Emmett’s book: The Procrastinator’s Handbook.

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Start Small

April 30th, 2008

Getting organized and simplifying your house can be a daunting task especially if your place is a small disaster area. Don’t get overwhelmed and quit before you begin. Start small – even 5 minutes a day can make a huge impact. That 5 minutes a day ads up to 1825 minutes a year or 30 hours and 25 minutes. If I haven’t gotten your attention yet this is almost a full work week (actually almost 4 work days). Imagine what you could do in that 30 hours of time.

By starting small you can start making a dent right away in organizing your house. Understandably 5 minutes doesn’t allow you to repaint the walls or refinish the floors but it’s enough time to pick the dirty laundry off the floor and put it in the hamper or washing machine. Just to get you stared here’s a list of 5 minute ideas that you can start with:

  • get a load of laundry going
  • pick up dirty laundry and put it in the hamper
  • take out the trash
  • start a folder for your mail
  • pay your bills and file the receipts away
  • load your dishwasher

Remember start small, each and every 5 minutes makes a difference however small. This is what I’ve done to get the decluttering and organizing process started.

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