When I was a kid, I had the book "What to Do When Your Mom or Dad Says Clean Your Room" by Joy Berry. This book was part of a series of "how-to" books for kids, and let me tell you that I love "how-to" books. I don't remember the exacts of the book, but I do remember the basic steps that it gave for room cleaning.
- Clear everything off your bed and throw it onto the floor
- Make your bed.
- Pick everything up off the floor and place on made bed
- Sort items on bed and put them away.
And to this day, this is exactly how I clean my room. Almost every time.
I have always been kind of messy. Not dirty. I don't leave popcorn bowls next to my bed or half eaten sandwiches on the desk. I clean things often. But I am easily distracted, and so I tend to leave small piles of undone things around the house, leaving the whole place looking just a little bit like it needs a little tidying up. And it does.
Over the years, I have tried to figure out why I could spend an entire day at home, fully intending to clean, only to realize that it's 11 p.m. and I have spent my day reading old journals and magazines from 2007, looking through old photo albums, and changing my Facebook status. Twice. So here is what I have discovered.
First, cleaning isn't fun. I learned in one of my college classes that I am a Choleric-Sanguine. This means that I am bossy, but I am fun. I like to do fun things. In fact, I almost only like to do fun things. Cleaning is kind of boring. It takes time that could be spent doing other things. The other part of being Sanguine is that if I have to do unfun things, I would rather do it with someone else there to entertain me. I get basically nothing accomplished if I am alone. This is very unfortunate since I live alone. I don't need help, I just need someone to talk to. So, it turns out that I don't need a cleaning lady... I just need a talking one.
Second, I am not a perfectionist (if I were, my house would be clean), but I like for things to be done right. And the right way is my way. At least here at my house. So I like for the clothes in my "shirt" closet to be sorted by sleeve length and color. If that can't be done in the short amount of time I have to clean, I just don't do it at all. Right now I have two Rubbermaid containers of scrapbooking supplies that have been sitting next to my couch for three weeks because I have no idea where they would fit perfectly. And so they sit. If you can't do it right, don't do it at all.
As I write this, I am looking around at my apartment and thinking that it could probably be unmessy in about one solid hour of work. Only one. And yet here I am, sitting at my computer because it is more fun. But don't worry, I have about 20 books on how to keep a house organized. I know all of the Fly-Lady's cleaning techniques, even if I rarely implement them. I have an index card box on my kitchen counter that contains daily household tasks, though I will probably continue to ignore it. But here in just a minute, after I eat breakfast and have plenty of energy, I will plug my ipod into the stereo and play the funnest music I can possibly find. I will pretend that I am competing for a gold medal in speed cleaning (cause that's kind of fun, right?). I will get this place looking fabulous because it is my day off, and it is what a responsible adult should do.
But if you ever come over to see me, and you find a clean floor and a perfectly made bed covered with a mountain of clothing the size of Everest, don't judge. I am in the process of cleaning.