I feel like my apartment’s neatness comes and goes in waves. Right now, I’m on the upward swing towards neatness.
I have found that there are a few things that I can do to increase the likelihood that my apartment will be clean.
I call these my foundational habits for tidiness.
I think that we all have foundational habits, though they likely vary from person to person. Foundational habits are the things, when done, that drive us to take an extra few seconds and walk something back to it’s proper resting place or to throw something away rather than piling it on the table.
These are my foundational habits:
1. Emptying the dishwasher of clean dishes. If I don’t remove the clean dishes from the dishwasher, then I have to pile dirty dishes in the sink. When the sink gets full, I have to pile them on the counter or table. Any new dirty dishes don’t get rinsed, as the sink is full, so they require more work before they even make it into the dishwasher.
When I see the dishes piled on every kitchen surface, I’m also less likely to put away groceries or anything else that might have found its way to my dining room table. Finally, when I see my table piled high, I’m less likely to allow books and papers to pile at my “spot” in the living room.
2. Taking out the recycling. I don’t struggle with taking out the trash: it gets smelly before it gets full. But the recycling is another thing. My kitchen recycling bin can fill with recyclables in less than a week. Additional recyclables then are piled on the recycling can, table, chairs or on the floor. This adds to the clutter from above and makes me not want to do anything about straightening up.
3. Putting away clean laundry. I grew up in a house where laundry was done in an orderly fashion. It was collected regularly, sorted in the laundry room, promptly done, then folded/hung immediately out of the dryer and stacked in piles for each person in our house.
When I first started doing my own laundry in college, I was equally orderly in my laundry. But somehow in the last few years, I got in the habit of piling my laundry instead of folding it. This got worse when I hung it to dry instead of using the dryer: now it tends to hang on the line in my bedroom until I wear it or I have more laundry to hang two weeks later.
If my laundry is hanging in my bedroom, what drive to have to put away anything else in there?
These are the three habits I’ve found to be foundational, so they are the things I work on first when I tidy up (ideally 10 minutes a day). What habits are foundational for you? Are there any changes you can make to make these less of a bottleneck?
In a couple of weeks I’ll share one way I’ve learn to make laundry less of a hindrance to tidiness.