Thursday, May 3, 2012

Conquering Clutter

So, as I was making an effort to find the top of my desk, I unveiled a rather humorous printout I once made of a “how-to” for cleaning. This 2008 report was all about “a sparkling house in just 19 minutes a day”. It goes on to explain what you need to do in each room and the time it should take. For example you should be able to get the bedroom all spiffy in 6 ½ minutes. Ok. Right. It claims a neat bed will get you all fired up to straighten up the other messes immediately. Think how nice it’s going to be when you get ready to retire at night, what with the pillows plumped and yesterday’s clothes put in their places. Not to mention how your jewelry has been put where it belongs. Then there is the matter of the now tidy night table.

Off to the kitchen where in 4 ½ minutes you can have it company ready. Ha. This article didn’t mention that in some houses it would take over 4 minutes to find the ‘Swiffer’ let alone actually using it.
The bathroom….2 minutes. Give me a break.  

The living or family room should take 6 minutes. For me it would be give or take a couple of hours. Fluffing a couple of pillows, folding a throw, and wiping a fingerprint or two off the coffee table is not likely to get the living room ready for the photographers from House Beautiful to come by for a photo shoot.
All joking aside (really) I have stumbled onto a website that is there to help folks like me-the housekeeping challenged. It’s Obviously they know me (and maybe you, too). They make sensible suggestions for procrastinators like me. I have been a follower of the Phyllis Diller method of housekeeping. She advocated not cleaning your oven until all you could fit into it was a cupcake.  In my case that could be a butter tart.

I’m not sure where I learned the paper bag method of tidying up. It could have been from Phyllis. Evidently I was not the only one to use it. By the way the paper bag deal was not mentioned in the get-it-done-in-19 minutes program. For the inexperienced paper baggers the idea is to throw anything loose from the counter tops, floor, chairs, and stuff visible under the furniture (i.e. shoes, toys, pets) into a paper bag. I can proudly (ha) say that I taught my sons this technique when they were quite young. I would tell them to grab a paper bag and fill it. That was usually followed by an announcement that “Grandma’s coming”. Later I just had to say “Grandma’s coming” and they scrambled about filling bags. It worked like a charm. One of the big problems with the paper bag technique is that after a decade or so you have so dang many paper bags around stuffed with old report cards, newspapers, an occasional electric bill, broken shoelace, missing sock. The list goes on.
The program suggests that you de-clutter for 15 minutes a day. I’m up to 2 days now. That makes 30 minutes. Do you see where this is going? I just might, I repeat might, get control of the clutter in…let’s see at 15 minutes a day x 7 days a week x 52 weeks in a year….by the year 2014. I’ll give it my best shot. In the meantime if you hear me say "Grandma's coming" hand over the bag.