I love clutter. I know you’re not supposed to say such things, but spotless spaces make me uncomfortable.
See this house? And how it’s clean and clear and spotless and there’s nothing on the table and it looks like no one has ever run though it, or made a mess or laughed really hard or scraped a knee or learned a life lesson in this space? This is my idea of hell.
See this space? See all the tossed-about pillows and the couch it’s OK to put your feet on and the surfaces for putting mugs of tea and talking with your friends to talk till 3am and not having to be meticulous about it even though it’s kinda very messy? This is how I like to live, and the kinds of spaces in which I feel most comfortable.
See this space? This is the happy medium I aspire to. There’s space to make stuff, and be messy about it, but it’s also organized and you don’t have to spend five minutes looking for absolutely everything or step over piles of “are-these-clean?” clothes to get from one end to another. But it’s got personality, and all the stuff’s organized.
But going from clutter-bug to organized-enough is going to be a long journey. So here’s what I do, and it’s called
“The 5 Song Clean-Up”
and it doesn’t have very many rules.
Rule #1: Make a playlist of 5 songs that you like. I make a new one each morning after waking up. Or just pick an album you enjoy.
Rule #2: While the 5 songs are playing, you must clean. If you need to use the washroom or something, pause the music. You should only be playing music while you are actively cleaning.
Rule #3: After the 5 songs have played through, you can stop cleaning. And you do not have to clean again for the rest of the day. A well-organized home requires daily care, and you have fulfilled the bare minimum requirements for caring. If you want to clean more, you certainly can, but upon completion of the 5 songs, you will have tidied just enough that you can legitimately claim progress towards your goals of being a well-organized house-person who over-hyphenates.
That’s it. I made up these three rules when I woke up one morning and had to kick through a pile of 114 inflated balloons (don’t ask) and dubiously clean laundry to go to the bathroom. I realised that I had crossed into the dark side of my messiness, but the thought of spending a whole day pushing through balloons and godknowswhatelse was overwhelming. So I made a deal with myself- commit to cleaning for just the time it takes to listen to 5 songs and then I’d be off the hook. And you know what I discovered? What I thought was a full-day painful clean up job actually only needed 20 minutes of determined, but ultimately painless, focus. Further, the fact that you’re off the hook after a set amount of time makes the task seem more concrete/do-able, as opposed to being some giant ambiguous and amorphous beast that’ll take you an indeterminate amount of time that feels like forever. Most cleaning tasks can be done well within the timespan of 5 songs, and an entire house can be brought up to snuff (not spotless, but up to snuff) in the span of one play though of Daft Punk’s Discovery. And that’s how The 5 Song Clean-Up became part of my daily routine.
It’s also how I was able to write my first blog post for 2013 after suffering through the most gut-wrenching episode of writer’s block I’ve had in a while. Just try for 5 songs, and if it doesn’t work out, well at least you tried. And who knows, you may actually be able to complete the task eventually.
Good luck with your mess,