My Top Tip for a Tidy Home

posted by Andrea | 03/4/2016
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top tip for a tidy home

By now, most of you know that I am almost always in favor of an“all things in moderation” approach versus an “all or nothing” approach. I realize this is because I am a “moderator” and not an “abstainer”. I also have very little perfectionistic tendencies, which makes it super easy for me to strive for “good enough” and not worry about “perfect”.

Not surprisingly, that means most of the tips, tricks, ideas, and inspiration I share here on my blog stems from my moderator personality and good enough mentality.

I’m guessing this might be frustrating for those of you who are abstainers and anyone who has perfectionistic tendencies; however, I know that if I didn’t abide by “all things in moderation” or if I wasn’t satisfied with “good enough” I would NEVER be able to accomplish everything I do in a day, week, month, or year… so that’s why I keep sharing my tips with you!

Anyway, today’s tip is another one of those “good enough” tips that could be more difficult for anyone with perfectionistic tendencies to embrace; but it’s also one of MY top tips to keep my home neat, clean, organized, picked-up and tidy almost all the time.

My tip…

Leave every space better than it was when you arrived.

If you think about it, how many times do we walk in and out of various rooms and spaces in our home? How many times do we look through our filing cabinet, diaper bag, purse, wallet, pantry, closet, junk drawer, garage, etc? How many times do we see something that could be cleaned, picked up, better organized, thrown away, etc?

If you’re like me, you would answer “a lot” to every single question above.

I realize this is not possible to do in every single situation, or at every moment of the day… but for the most part, I am living proof that it is almost always possible (and reasonable) to take 5 seconds or less to do one thing that will better a space before you leave.

For example…

  • hang up the towel on the floor in the bathroom
  • straighten the pillows or fold a blanket on the couch
  • put the stray sock in the hamper
  • wipe down the counter around the kitchen sink
  • shake out the car mat on your driver’s side door
  • throw a handful of trash away
  • tuck the clothes back in the drawer and close the drawers all the way
  • open a new box of tissues and throw the empty one away
  • wipe down one shelf in the refrigerator
  • stack the boots and shoes by the back door
  • shove the chairs all back around the table
  • put the books back on the shelf
  • pull a weed when you’re walking to get the mail
  • refill the diaper drawer
  • wipe up a dust bunny in the corner of the room

I’m certain I could list hundreds and hundreds of examples (but I won’t bore you today!)

 

The point is even though your space will not magically be spotlessly clean, perfectly organized, or completely de-cluttered, it will be BETTER than it was before.

More importantly, if you start doing these quick little gestures on a regular basis, they will eventually become a HABIT — and once you develop that habit, tidying up will become second nature for you (and that’s when it stops feeling like “work”).

I know, I know, this might sound too idealistic — and like I mentioned earlier, it is definitely in-line with my “moderator” and “good enough” personality — but it IS definitely simple and easy and doable for almost everyone.

We are all capable of taking 3-5 seconds to do one thing to leave a space better than when we arrived (I sometimes even catch myself wiping down bathroom counters in public restrooms because it’s just how I do things!)

Also, in case you missed it, I said “take 3-5 seconds to do ONE thing”. 

I did NOT say, “do one thing, and then get side-tracked and do 15 more things, and then realize you’re running late and that you never actually did what you came into the room to do.”

Nope.

Just ONE thing and then you’re done… at least until the next time you come into that space.

What do you think… will you give it a try?

Today, whenever you leave a space, take 5 seconds to look around and do one quick thing to improve that space. It certainly can’t hurt anything!

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31 comments

  1. karissa

    03/10/2016

    This is such a great tip! I realize I do this some anyways. Now though I will make more of an effort to do this all throughout the day as I go in and out of rooms. I think it will make a big difference.

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  2. Rachel

    03/07/2016

    Andrea,

    I LOVE this tip! I actually do this all … the … time! I can’t imagine what my house would look like if I didn’t. Maintenance is the KEY!

    I have a question totally un-related to this topic. I just noticed in your pictures that you use a tablecloth on your kitchen table. I am thinking about doing that, too, because I’m finding that our newish Amish built table is getting quite scratched on the top … and I’d like to preserve it if I can.

    My concerns are … how often do you have to wash it? Do you have more than one & just switch them out? Do you wash it after every meal … or just once a day?

    I have some pretty messy boys … and I am hesitating because I’m not sure how it would work. I would be interested in any tips you might have.

    Thanks 🙂
    Rachel

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    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Rachel,
    I sometimes have a tablecloth on, sometimes I don’t. I go in spurts 🙂
    I have a couple tablecloths that fit our table, but I usually don’t use one in the winter time because the kids do more crafts, coloring, art projects, etc. in the winter and the tablecloth gets in the way.

    When I do use the tablecloth, I can easily leave it on for a couple of days before washing (just get a dark color!) Another idea is to push it back when you eat — we sometimes do this for really messy foods.
    Hope this helps!

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  3. Sabrina

    03/06/2016

    Hi Andrea, my comment isn’t totally related to this blog post, but I read a library book to my kids today and thought you might enjoy it. It’s called Mole Had Everything, by Jamison Odone. It fits your blog theme: simplifying what you have, not comparing with others, getting rid of things you don’t use or have attachment to. Nora would love it. 😉 You should check it out.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Sabrina! We actually just got back from the library, I’ll have to look for this book next time!

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  4. Alicia @ Turquoise Grace

    03/05/2016

    See, this is why I read, and love to read, your blog! My mind just does not naturally think this way. I am a perfectionist by nature trying very hard to become a moderator. My perfectionist nature can be debilitating if Im not fully aware. And I must say, slowly but surely, over the years, I’ve let a lot go. Thank you for this simple, needed reminder !

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  5. Rebekah

    03/04/2016

    You’re my housekeeping twin! I have a blog (on which I have not posted even an single photo since December of 2014, but whatever) called “Good Enough.” Tagline: Sometimes “good enough” is more than enough. 🙂 I didn’t even know this behavior had a name. It’s just how I keep busy as a SAHM. I’m a Moderator! Who knew!

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  6. Emily

    03/04/2016

    Hi Andrea, I just discovered your blog about 2 months ago, and have loved following along with you. After trying to be perfect for so long and never reaching perfection, I finally gave up and now have a “everything in moderation” mindset as well. Your tip is what I call cleaning up as I go. Whenever I leave a room I make sure to take something that needs put away with me, or I straighten the couch pillows after getting up from the couch. It makes a huge difference in the tidiness of my home!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Emily! Good enough is way more fun than perfect!!

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  7. Pam

    03/04/2016

    My grandmother taught my mother, then my mother taught my siblings and myself, and then I taught my kids that it takes more effort to step over something or walk around something than it does to actually pick it up. We were also told that if you are going to another room, glance around the room quickly and see if anything needs to be taken to the room you are going to. My mother learned this in the late 40’s, early 50’s, and this is something that still holds true today. It is amazing how much this little step can keep your home kept up!

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    Andrea Reply:

    great minds think alike!!

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  8. Dawn

    03/04/2016

    You know, I AM that perfectionist, and I think this is awesome! I am an only child, so the perfectionism isn’t going away I don’t think. But this tip could really help me. I, of course, have a tendency not to start something if I don’t think I can finish it to perfection. I am encouraged to try this and see how much pressure it relieves when I simply CAN’T get to the whole big job.

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    Andrea Reply:

    how can you possibly be a perfectionist and have 12 kids??? I wouldn’t have thought this would be possible 🙂

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  9. janet

    03/04/2016

    So good! I had to smile at “pulling a few weeds on the way in the house.” I do that all the time! … and putting the blankets and pillows back in order on the couch, and wipe the counter around the sink–and do that in public places too.

    Those little things really do make a difference. I also have the 3yo put away all the toys with me before naptime. Then we’re not tripping over toys after naps.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, Nora always says “mom, we’re supposed to be playing, not pulling weeds!”

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  10. Kathy C

    03/04/2016

    I really like this one tip. It’s so practical, and I loved your examples. I think about how many times I have seen something hanging out a corner of a drawer and just ignored it. My latest example is I had 3 small blankets in the trunk of the car and I cleaned out my trunk and brought the blankets in to wash. Then they sat on my laundry counter for over two weeks!!! Just yesterday and I put them back in the car trunk, and you are right, it only took seconds. Why did I wait so long!

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    Andrea Reply:

    i’ve had similar things happen so often — I’ll put something off for days or weeks, only to realize that it took me 2 minutes to do and be done with. sigh…

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  11. Nayu

    03/04/2016

    Love these types Andrea! I’m trying to implement doing something whenever I’m in an area, and it does work and is so worth what currently feels like ‘extra’ effort. Soon it will be normal and I’ll wonder how I coped before doing the tip.

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    Andrea Reply:

    exactly! Just keep doing it!!

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  12. Linda Patti

    03/04/2016

    Just curious about the photo display in bottom photo…is it something you purchased or made?
    I’m thinking a yardstick and some clothes pins? Thanks!
    PS I am a grandma and love your blog!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Linda! Grandmas are definitely allowed to like my blog 🙂

    And yes, the photo display in Nora’s room is just a yardstick with clothespins glued to it. Here’s the blog post I did about it.

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  13. Debbie

    03/04/2016

    I need to make it a habit to shake out the mat on the driver’s side of my car. Every thing else on the list I pretty much do. Thanks for the list! By the way, I like the picture of your back porch. It’s very cozy and private.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, the car mats always bug me when I’m looking at filthy dirty mats every time I drive.
    And thanks, we love our new back deck — and we have a clear shot of the kid’s swingset from it too!

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  14. Jennifer

    03/04/2016

    Great post! I try to do this as well….. And now trying to teach the little ones to do this. Which is a bit harder, but they will learn :). The biggest thing for us is toys being left out.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jennifer!
    We don’t have a perfect system for kids helping out, but there have been many occasions when we ask them to pick up, they blatantly disobey, and those toys are mysteriously gone for the next few days 🙂
    When we give the toys back, we explain that they were taken away because they weren’t taken care of… and we remind them of this the next time they put up a stink about helping to pick up. This has been working very well with Nora 🙂

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  15. Marisa

    03/04/2016

    “do one thing, get side-tracked, do fifteen more things…”

    This is so me!

    I always try this tip, then get side-tracked by all the other 5-second things that need doing, and wind up spending 15 minutes organizing my purse and then being mad at myself because I meant to be cleaning the kitchen. And then I feel frustrated because the “do one thing” tip doesn’t seem to be working.

    I have distinct perfectionist tendencies & naturally tend to focus on one thing at a time. It’s really hard to start something & leave it undone (which is what “do one thing” feels like). Maybe I can somehow reframe it so that it doesn’t feel that way?

    Any ideas, anyone?

    [Reply]

    Julie S-H Reply:

    Maybe try to just to stop beating yourself up at all 😉 So, if you did your purse instead of the kitchen, say “I guess I decided to do my purse- cool!” We should all practice being kind to ourselves. Also, use a timer to make it fun. 15 minutes on the kitchen, then to the purse! I think the point of the day should be to healthfully enjoy yourself and make progress on things you need to- working hard, yes, but joyfully in the moment. It is much more sustainable that way. Hopefully work and play (and parenting!) are all fun along the way, not headaches or chores. When I try to tilt my thinking in that direction, it is much more fun and meaningful as I take care of things. And of course I am more fun to be with when I talk nicely to myself and enjoy myself! At least I think I am! Ha ha

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    Andrea Reply:

    Love this advice — thanks Julie!

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    Andrea Reply:

    You are not alone Maris!
    Unfortunately, I don’t have great advice for you — or at least nothing I can say “works from experience” with because I don’t know what it feels like to have those perfectionistic tendencies. I’ve always been a “do it as fast as possible and move on” type of person 🙂
    I agree with Julie though — it’s definitely not worth beating yourself up over; especially since you are still accomplishing something positive by organizing your purse. You can work on the kitchen next time!
    Also, as far as “leaving something undone” I wonder if you just think of the initial project as one quick thing. So the whole project would be to wipe down one shelf in the refrigerator (and then you’re done). The next time you can choose a different shelf. So instead of your ultimate goal being “to organize the refrigerator” your new small goal is “to wipe down one shelf”. Do you think that would help at all — because then you would technically be finishing what you started, but not wasting valuable time.

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  16. Paulette

    03/04/2016

    GREAT tip, Andrea! It works!!

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  17. Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life

    03/04/2016

    I totally agree! If you come over to my house it might not be spotlessly clean, but it will be picked up because I’m in the habit of picking up as I go throughout the day. It makes a really big difference. When I get off the couch, there’s usually something on the end table that needs to be thrown out or put back in it’s place. Easy-peasy! It really does only take a few seconds.

    I will say that it can be frustrating when your spouse somehow doesn’t see things like that. The more I ask him to help, the better he gets at noticing. I just don’t like feeling like I’m cleaning up after his tiny messes all the time. 🙂

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