I used to be really messy. I used to also be really stressed out all the time.
I’ve found that as I’ve gotten older, wiser and more organized, I really developed a real appreciation for “clean and orderly.” Why? Well, it all boils down to less stress. I find that when I come home from work and my place is messy, instead of wanting to sit back, grab a beer, a book and relax, I find I feel compelled to take care of things.
I really like to have my place be nice and tidy. Not spotless by any means, but not distracting. This means no dirty dishes in the sink or on counters. No piles of anything and no clothes left out in the open. All of these things remind me of things I need to do and intrude on what should be a space and time for me to relax.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, as I’ve recently gained a new roomate; my fiancee, Staci. She’s pretty clean, but quite a bit less organzied and we’re in a space that is simply too small. (Especially with all the wedding gifts starting to come in — argh.) It really brings to light some things I was taking for granted while living alone and it’s made me go back and think creativley about how I keep my spaces clean and organized.
h3. Some of my best tips on keeping things clean
* Be cleaning constantly. I really try my best to keep things as clean as I can and I spend at least a few minutes every night cleaning up. I try to take care of messes when they happen. For example, I clean and put away dishes as I’m making dinner and I file and sort my mail when I’m opening it. Working smarter, not necessarily harder.
* Hire a professional. I have a cleaning service come once a month to do a deep clean. It’s easy to want to let the place get out of control before they come, so I really have to exercise discipline to keep things up, which also helps quite a bit. It’s been totally worth the money.
* Do pre-vacation cleaning. I make sure and do a thorough clean (laundry, dishes, etc.) before I leave for any extended period of time. It’s soooo much nicer to come back to a clean house.
* Get good storage. This is one thing I’ve had in the past, but don’t have now. (Mainly because I have too much stuff — a story for another day) Having places to file, discard or simply remove from sight things that aren’t used every day is key.
* Throw things away. Getting rid of old, unused items can be a very liberating feeling.
* Don’t pile! I swear, piles of anything (dishes, clothes, books, mail, paperwork) are probably the most stress-causing things I can think of.
* Practice the 4 season clean. Spring cleaning isn’t enough. I try and do something similar every other month. It always amazes me at how much crap I can accumulate in such a short period of time.
All in all I’ve found that the cleaner my environment is the less stressed I am and the more I’m able to meet the challenges of the day. Now if I can only get Staci on the same page. But I’ll leave that for another day, as it’s an ongoing issue I’ve not yet sorted. For now, let’s just say I’m pulling a bit of a double duty. ;)