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Keeping Your House Picked Up

{Not mine, but love the baskets.  From Woman’s Day.com}

I follow the Flylady system, kind of.  I pick and choose what works for me from her system.  Many of the tips she gives are steps to keeping things picked up.  The following tips are inspired by her system, they are ones that have worked for me.

** Be Intentional**
Because I am not a natural born organized person, I had to train my brain to think like one.  I have to be purposeful and aware of things I naturally would not see, and think about things I normally would not think about.  Here are some things that are working for me:
 1. Look around.
When I walk in a room, I do a quick sweep with my eyes to find anything that does not belong in there or is out of place.  I try not walk through my house without being aware of what belongs where and doing something about it.  By being aware, I can grab a comb that is in the living room while on my way to the bathroom and put it away.  If I am walking through the living room and a couch pillow is out of place, I notice and straighten it.  If I am going upstairs, I grab something on the stairs that belongs up there to put away.  I’ve been doing this for so long that now it is just natural and I don’t realize I am doing it.  
2. Make a home for things
If there is not a specific home for something, then ‘picking up’ just becomes a useless game of shifting objects around from place to place.  There needs to be an intentional place for everything, especially
things that often get out of their place.  Most things only need ONE place.  If not one, as few as possible, for example–pens.  Pens should have one main place where the bulk of them live, and then a few intentional places around the house that you would normally need one.  Think about where the home for each object, makes the most sense.  I have a small bathroom upstairs that has great shelves.  They would be the perfect place to keep cute little baskets to hold all the hair accessories for my girls, but I don’t keep them there. The reason – they never do their hair upstairs.  It would make no sense and waste our time walking up the stairs just to get pony tail holder, so I keep them downstairs where they are accessible and easy to grab.  Keep objects ‘homes’ close to where you would use and need them.  This is efficient and will save time and steps.
3. Notice what is making the mess.
  If mail is constantly a mess, that is a clue to have a place and system for mail.  If child school projects/papers are creating clutter, create a place and system for them.  If you have plastic grocery bags coming out your ears, only save a few and recycle the rest, there is no need for more than 10.  If unfolded blankets are what is making the mess, find a basket to put nearby to place them in.  Magazines scattered?  Basket.  Books?  Book shelf or basket.  Husbands things taking over the counter?  Give them a container.  Look for things that are constantly out of place and creating mess, and find a place for those things.  Don’t know how to create a system for mail or school projects?  Google it!  The internet is full of great ideas.
4. Pick up after yourself!  
If you get it out, put it away.  Best kept secret to keeping a clean house.
5. When you think it, do it. 
 If at all possible, when the thought enters your brain, do it right away.  If you can’t, write it down.  If you think, “ugh the chair is not pushed in again”- then push it in.  If you think “I need to return that phone call” -then do it asap.  If you think “I should change out the laundry”- stop and do it.
6. Put things in time perspective.
  Lack of motivation is often because we think it will be too hard or take too long.  Changing a load of laundry only takes a minute.  Folding one takes 5.  Emptying the dishwasher can be done in 3-4 minutes.  Making your bed, 60 seconds.  
4. Get rid of clutter.  
If you don’t love it, and you don’t use it, get rid of it.  CLUTTER ATTRACTS CLUTTER!  
5. One thing at a time.  
One project at a time, one room at a time, one job at a time.  This keeps me from getting overwhelmed.  Small steps.  
6. Move it!
Work fast to get the job done.  Set the timer for 5 minutes and see what you can get picked up in that amount of time.  Set the timer for 15 minutes and tell the family “we are going to have a family 15 minute house pickup boogie”  Blast the music, show them how to move fast, make it fun.  We have picked up an entire house in less then 15 minutes by doing this.  I resort to the “15 minute boogie” technique whenever I feel the house starting to come unglued with things out of place in every room.  These are happening less and less as we have established homes for objects, and routines to keep those objects in their homes.  The kids do not mind them, because they know it will be over in 15 minutes.
I’ve conquered most of the clutter in our home, and keep it picked up most of the time.  I am now working on the whole ‘deep cleaning’ part.  That part does not come as easy for me, but I am encouraged knowing 3/4 of the battle is getting clutter out and establishing habits to keep it picked up.  I’m sure I’ll be posting my progress (or lack of) in future posts.  If you have any tips that work for you, let me know!

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  • Clean Mama
    March 17, 2013 at 3:09 am

    Great tips Amy! The clutter creates visual noise and once they’re taken care of the cleaning is so much easier!

  • Kim
    August 14, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I’ve never heard of this system. But I need it bad! I try really hard to keep things organized, but like you, it’s not a natural thing for me, I have more of an artistic mind. Thanks for the introduction to this interesting system!

  • Anonymous
    May 23, 2010 at 5:18 am

    I have just come across your web sight and I absolutely LOVE IT!!! I mean a lot of the stuff is so simple and I just kick myself for not thinking about it but I’m so happy you have because who knows how long it would be until I would if ever!!!! So thank you!!! You’re helping make life easier and more organized!!

  • Melissa McMommy
    April 13, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Great ideas! Hubby’s mail & papers tend to be the problem in my house…I keep giving him paper trays, and he fills them til they are overflowing and then starts a new pile somewhere else! Maybe I should try the 15 minute thing and just assign him the task of throwing out some old papers during that time.

  • Christine (iDreamofClean)
    April 9, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Clutter, clutter, clutter! It’s a never ending battle. My hubby and I live in 740 square feet and are minimalists but there still seems to be cutter everywhere! Great tips…I will implement some of them immediately!!

  • Our Lives
    January 23, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Good post on the FLYlady’s system, Amy.
    One thing worked for me from the FLYlady’s system was that she challenged us to time the task and see how long it ACTUALLY takes to accomplished it. I used to have a hard time making my bed in the morning after I got up. So I took the challenge to time the bed making task and it was under two minutes!!! I make my bed now every morning because I know it really only takes a couple of minutes to do so.
    I modified my control journal to fit my family’s schedules. When you think of it, it is with everything we do. If we like certain idea on tackling a chore, we will modified it to become ours and the job(s) gets done.
    Housework/ Home management is an on going progress. We will always have it with us and always will try to make it work to fit our life styles.

  • Meghan
    January 22, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Great tips. Numbers 4 and 5 (the simplest ones!) are the hardest for me to stick with even though I know I need to do them. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Anonymous
      October 13, 2015 at 5:13 am

      One item at a time… even if it’s only one a day, Find a ‘home’ for it… put it away, give it away, or throw it away. The day-to-day accomplishments add up to success.

      • AmyNewNostalgia
        October 16, 2015 at 9:17 am

        Yes, yes and yes! Thanks for your comments.