Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gretchen Rubin and the Ten Minute Tidy Up

Tomas Carrillo- Flickr
My desk does not look like this
Have you checked out The Happiness Project yet? A few years ago, Gretchen Rubin decided to spend a year working on being happier. The book that resulted is a very worthwhile read and a New York Times best seller. The blog of the same name offers tons of tips for leading a happier, less stressed, more fulfilling life.

One of the recurrent themes in The Happiness Project (book and blog) is "outer order contributes to inner calm." If you look around the blog, there are tons of posts about getting neat and organized. This one is my favorite- it gives some great ideas for getting rid of clutter in small steps. It goes right along with my belief that doing one little thing is much less intimidating than trying to take on a huge project. And look, Gretchen and I agree that making your bed is totally worth the effort!

A suggestion presented often on The Happiness Project is to observe a five minute "evening tidy up" before going to bed each night. You push the chairs under the table, pick things up off the floor, stack up books, etc. It's supposed to create a soothing bedtime ritual and make your mornings a little better.

I don't practice the evening tidy up per se, but I do like to make sure that the kitchen is clean- dishes in dishwasher, counter tops clean, trash taken out- just before I go to bed. On the occasions that I skip it and leave a pan soaking in the sink overnight, its just a big bummer to have to deal with in the morning.

What I have been doing is a ten minute tidy up in the mornings when I'm off. The problem with having some weekdays off is that I'm at home when everyone else is at work. It's great to get errands done when things are less crowded, but sometimes I get myself in trouble with so much unstructured time. Given the choice between going out to pick up the dry cleaning and staying in my pj's to watch Office reruns on my laptop...well, let's just say that the dry cleaning hangs out at the store a little longer than it should.

When I find myself feeling overwhelmed with the chores that need to get done, I am making myself do a ten-minute tidy up. Five minutes is just enough time to get started, but I can accomplish a lot in ten minutes. I set the timer on my phone and work until it goes off. It seems like once I get though the ten minutes and feel like I have accomplished something (like locating my dining room table under the junk mail), I'm more motivated to get my day started.

I also agree with Gretchen's statement that tidy areas tend to stay tidy, and messy areas tend to get messier.  I notice that when I make my bed regularly, my whole bedroom stays neater, but when I slack off things tend to collect on the dressers and floor. I'm hoping that the ten minute tidy up will help my problem areas (dining room table, extra bedroom) get cleaner and stay cleaner.

Do you have any quick clean up rituals that keep your house (and you) from falling apart?

So long for now, KISS (keep it simple stupid), and try a little tidy up- see if you like it too.

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