Like most people, when it comes to housework, I do it when I have to. I vacuum when clouds of cat hair rise from the carpet as I walk on it, I dust and I put stuff away. I’m not, obviously, what you’d call a happy homemaker. I never was and probably never will be. But, of course, I like a clean and tidy house. Ah, the dilemma.
I read an article recently which suggested taking 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes before bedtime to tidy the house – you know, pile the strewn papers, empty the bathroom trash, put away the ‘stuff’ that appears from nowhere on the kitchen counter. All of that. Morning and night.
Well, if you do that, only fifteen minutes, the first day you’ll see a whole lot of things you could put away, and feel overwhelmed, knowing it would take much longer than 15 minutes to do it. But stick to those fifteen minutes. Do it daily and soon – since you’re tidying before bedtime, too – by morning, there’s not much to tidy. What then? Pick up a dust cloth. Spend the fifteen minutes doing that. No? Then organize a bookshelf. In the evening? Vacuum or pay the bills. I know, I know. I said those 15 minutes changed my life, how is that? By making me a happy homemaker after all?
By organizing and energizing me.
My routine used to be to get up at dawn, feed the cats and get to work (from home, writing). Before the rest of the house stirred, I’d take a break from working, get on the treadmill, shower make breakfast for all then head back to work… taking a serious break again only for lunch and dinner.
Each morning, my sleepy eyes would scan the mess that was my home. I knew I’d have to spend an entire day each week cleaning it and sorting the mail that had piled so high it was falling over. But I had work to do so I kept putting off that day of cleaning. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.
By forcing those 15 minutes into my morning and evening routines, the mess was gone. Once everything was in its place after a couple of 15-minute tidy sessions, it was easier to clean – and the clean was more noticeable – and lasting. I could go to work and not worry if someone came to the door unexpectedly. 😳 My bills were paid on time and papers were filed where they were supposed to be. Knowing the chore would be limited to 15 minutes made it manageable. It also awakened the worker-bee in me. I might lag when it comes to home chores, but when I work, I work hard. I looked at it as a job and a challenge. How much can I accomplish in this 15 minute block?
Something about it was energizing. It also didn’t hurt that I could scan the house and see how pretty it actually was.
The added bonus? The life-changing effect? My mind feels clearer. As if that has been tidied, too. Decluttering my space decluttered my mind, seeming to clear a path for the muse to come out and play. I picture her now, as she had been, like a hoarder trapped in her own space, tripping and climbing over clutter so she could come to rest on my shoulder all day. The more clutter there was, the longer she struggled to get through. The harder it was for me to work.
Fifteen minutes in the morning. It takes ten for the coffee to brew. Five for it to get nice and hot on the warming plate. There’s my fifteen minutes. In the evening, on the way to the bedroom, make a quick stop here and there to pick up things in the way. The incentive? Waking early and seeing everything – mostly – in its place. Of course, no matter how diligent you are, there will always – always – be that one dirty dish in the sink that no one ever recalls placing there even though the dishwasher is two inches away.
Fifteen minutes. It made the air cleaner in my house – I have cats, you know.
Fifteen minutes. It decluttered my space and, by extension, freed my muse. Fifteen minutes. It makes unexpected company less unwelcome (ha), clears the dust from the muse’s eyes, and has, honestly, changed my life.
Great blog. I applied this lesson years ago and it’s made such a difference to my entire attitude. I still don’t like housework but at least now it feels like it’s a manageable chore. Keep up the good work.
Thanks, Linda! You’re right – it doesn’t change the attitude but it does make the chore more manageable. And, somehow, the first 15 minutes are like a jump-start to my day making me feel more productive. Such a simple thing but it works so color me happy.
I wish I were this disciplined
Oh, trust me, I’m not disciplined. 🙂 I must have read the article about this a year ago. There was no way it would have worked out for me if I’d tried it then. Timing was right now, though. I actually felt the need for some type of change and this seemed like a good option. So far, it’s working. You just never know.
There are so many unfinished tasks around my house and the clutter’s building up — I’m seriously going to give this a try, Debbie. Usually I just vacuum the daylights out of everything and that makes me feel better, but it’s definitely not helping my office space, i.e., my writing. Thanks for the helpful direction!
You’re welcome! I hope it works out for you. The secret is not to do too much at once. Seriously – stick to the fifteen minutes in the am and pm. In just a couple of days you’ll be impressed by how much you can do in that small amount of time – and, if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself doing more with the rest of the day (because you’ll have breathing space. 😉 )