So this week on Organization Theatre, I buckled down to accept the reality of my kitchen cabinets. Remember how last time I said that my systems edge toward chaos? Well, in this case, replace ‘edge’ with ‘event horizon’.
Thank you! i've been dealing with chronic physical & mental health challenges that sometimes make anything that takes more effort than walking from the bed to the chair seem daunting. i'm also a 43yo college student living with a 32yo college student Husband, a college student son, and 14 animals!. my life is ultra-busy, my energy level is running on fumes most days, and this is the first blog of its kind i've seen that seems aimed at real people with real lives & real challenges to deal with.
Thanks to UFYH, I feel much less alone in cleaning being a huge trigger for me. I thought cleaning causing a breakdown was just weird. But growing up with a hoarder, having cleaning being used as a punishment and not even ever being really taught HOW to clean just being told to do it means cleaning makes me sick to my stomach. Now I did learn how to clean, thanks to my sister and gramma, but only in marathons. Thanks for letting me know things don't have to be that way. EVERYONE here rocks!
Pet owners: wash out those slobbery food and water dishes, and wipe down the area where your pets get fed, including any cabinet or wall surfaces that may get accidental splatter mess. Cat people, clean out your litter box. Gather up any toys and pet-related detritus scattered around the house and put them away. Wash your pet’s bedding. It smells. Trust me.
Throw away anything expired or gross (pay special attention to condiments), wipe down all shelves and surfaces (hot water and vinegar works well and is safe to use around food), take out the crisper drawers, wash them out and wipe underneath, clean out all the little egg holder divot things and bumpy door shelves, and generally de-crud the thing. Put everything back in, using some kind of system that makes some sort of sense.
I wish there was a better way (and if there is, please enlighten me) to thank the people that have responded to my posts and boosted my spirits. I fight with myself for posting; I am not trying to be an attention whore, but knowing someone (who I don’t even know, at that!) thinks I’m doing a good job, or gives praise, or suggestions, or kudos… that’s just such a confidence boost and is much appreciated.
By posting my progress, or venting, or stating my objectives, I am trying to hold myself accountable. Even if only to myself. To have someone respond and say Good Job, or Looks Great, or Good for You is kind of mind boggling! It gives me the warm fuzzies! So, because Tumblr isn’t as easy to respond to comments and such, this is a hearty Thank You Very Much to everyone that has boosted me up.
Finding and becoming part of the UfYH community has helped me in so many ways it’s hard to articulate. Knowing I’m not alone, knowing I’m fighting the same battles, knowing that others struggle with the SAME DAMN THINGS, knowing that I’m not a freak of nature… man what a rush! A big ol’ group hug to all fellow Unfuckers.
I strive to try my very best to pay back the gratitude I am feeling! :D
Re: those bathrooms/closets filled with random products that we had purchased or ended up with somehow but that don't like and never use, so they just sit there being all cluttery, but throwing them away feels wasteful. Solution: I put a cute little basket in the ladies' room at work and put all of the extra lotions, hair spray, etc. in there. And people use them. I've even heard comments regarding how much people appreciate the fairy who left them there.
Every time I post a challenge (or even a mini-challenge, or “Make your bed!”), a startling number of people are quick to reply or reblog with their “reasons” why they can’t do that particular thing. You’re not trying to convince me, or your fellow unfuckers. You’re rationalizing to yourself why you won’t take a step in a different direction. And honestly, for things like making your bed, in the time it takes you to type out your excuses, you could have already made your bed.
I’m sure some of you are just trying to be funny, and some of the more creative ones do make me giggle, but think of how much support Team UfYH gives to one another, and how maybe negative voices aren’t that helpful for someone who might be struggling to get started.
I’ve said a million times (well, a lot of times) that if a particular challenge doesn’t apply to you, or you’re at work or in a different time zone, either save the challenge for later or do something else. Your pantry is already unfucked? Do a couple of 20/10s on your bedroom. The challenges are suggestions, and (I hope) helpful for people who need a push in order to get started. But a chorus of negativity is counterproductive.
So many people in different situations are using UfYH as a tool to help create order out of chaos. And if you’re having trouble getting started, you don’t really need much encouragement to do nothing. You need encouragement to do something. Anything. So maybe we try being supportive of our fellow unfuckers, and if a challenge doesn’t apply to you, maybe reply with what you did instead of the challenge?
Words have power, people, and excuses are lazy words.
Hello to all the unemployed, funemployed, underemployed, or people who just plain hate your job! This challenge has three parts. Pick the one that’s applicable to you, or do all three if you need to.
How’s your resume? I bet it could use a little work. Take half an hour and really polish that thing up.
COVER LETTERS. I know. They’re painful sometimes.You really should have a semi-generic one all set up to customize, so work on that for a half hour or so. Have a specific job in mind? Take this time to tailor one for that job. It’s really only a few paragraphs. You just need to get started.
Time to apply. Let’s give a goal of three applications/resumes sent out today. Three is easy. Three is doable.
Bonus challenge. If you’ve haven’t left the house in a while, go ahead and hop in the shower. I promise it won’t hurt. It’ll feel really nice. After your shower, put on something a step up from pajamas. Trust me, it helps.
I’m getting really bad at setting the timer. And yet it doesn’t seem to be affecting my productivity any, which is very nice! I bet that I’ll need the timer tomorrow, though, since the walk-in closet is a freakin’ MESS and there’s no easy way to go shelf-by-shelf or drawer-by-drawer like there has been for the others.
Like there was today! From this:
Each shelf now has a specific purpose and specific stuff that’s supposed to go on that shelf. Whoo-hoo! And I did cheat a little by just removing that big blue bin that used to be on the closet floor, but that’s okay. It contained assorted hardware and cables; the hardware is now in its own (smaller!) bin on the next shelf up, and I’m going to try to find a place for the cables in the walk-in if I can. And I’ve even gone through and sorted them; some will get recycled when I make my next get-rid-of-electronics run, and the rest are now neatly labeled, like so:
Ta-da! I do anticipate finding (many) more cables as I clean the last closet, but there is plenty of room for them in the bin now!
And I got all this done on a day when I had to work, too. W00T.
ok so is it good/bad form if I take a bottle of isopropyl alcohol and some cotton rounds to my department and go to town on the keyboards in the computer lab
because wow white keyboards + public computers = WOW GROSS CAKED ON FINGER GREASE I DON’T EVEN WANT TO TOUCH THESE THINGS
I mean is it good/bad form in general to clean up the public spaces in my department
I wiped off the microwave because it was so gross
the minifridge in my office is really disgusting and is2g I can smell it when I open the door (and the fridge is closed!!)
also my office as a whole smells funky
like I had to get up and spray down my entire desk because it just oozed grossness
when did I become the clean one
I BLAME UNFUCK YOUR HABITAT
At my job, we have phones and computers that are used by many different people. Everyone who uses them (and I blame myself) is in the habit of wiping them down with some alcohol before they start using them. Just slightly dampen a paper towel and give a quick wipe. Phones and keyboards are gross, y’all.
Anecdata: almost none of us get sick during cold and flu season.
Things I have accomplished in the last couple weeks, thanks to UfYH:
My bathroom is clean.
My bathroom shelf is organized.
My bathroom is well-stocked with toilet paper and I never have to text Mom to bring me another roll.
I keep a Magic Eraser in my bathroom. Emergencies, you know.
My kitchen is clean.
We’ve gone from eating fast food every night to eating it exactly once in 16 days, because I’m actually able to COOK in my kitchen again.
I scrubbed (with soap, water and bleach wipes) the cabinet that was once the central location for the horde of pests that drove me out of my own kitchen. (The exterminator was out here months ago, I have no excuses for why it took me this long to return the cabinet to functioning order.)
I returned our plates/bowls/glasses/silverware from the dining room table where they had been living since December to the cabinet and drawer where they belong.
I removed all the food from my cupboard, threw out the expired things, cleaned the shelves in the cupboard and replaced the food in orderly fashion.
I cleaned out the fridge (both in the “removing spoiled food” and “wiping down surfaces” sense).
I cleaned out the freezer (see above).
I cleared off the desk and readied it for Mom to go through the (tidy, organized) stack of unsorted mail and see what’s still relevant.
I no longer have a floordrobe of any sort. Clothes are worn until they’re changed; clothes still wearable are put in a designated area to be put on again tomorrow, dirty clothes go straight to the hamper.
I can see the floor in my closet.
27 boxes of tea have been consolidated and moved from my desk to their rightful place in the kitchen.
I never have more than one drink glass/can in my bedroom at one time (unless there’s someone over and actively drinking from the second glass/can at the time).
When I wake up in the morning, I don’t run the risk of destroying objects as I paw around trying to find my glasses as there’s no longer anything to paw through; the only thing on my bedside table are my glasses, one drink, my tissues, my phone and the hair tie I removed just before laying down.
My bed gets made on a daily basis—sometimes “made” means the sheets and blankets are tucked in, sometimes it means they just get pulled up and straightened, but by god I’m purposefully manipulating those sheets in some fashion every morning.
And tomorrow, spine willing, I’m going into the back room and I’m not coming out until the deep-freeze in there has been cleaned and organized.
Eventually, I’ll get around to taking the “after” pictures to post with my “before” pictures. Even I didn’t expect to have made so much progress in such little time, but it’s insane how easy it is to accomplish things when someone jerks the kinks out of your thought process when it comes to doing chores.
Impressed? Don’t be. You too can achieve this state. Go check out Unfuck Your Habitat and learn how to successfully complete your to-do list, too.
Hi, I love this site so much! Nothing else has ever made me actually CRAVE cleaning--not even close. I think the cussing and the verbatim repetition is what changes my thinking patterns, and then action follows (incredibly!). Anyway, I have a fairly new cultured marble vanity top. I keep encountering contrary opinions on the Web about whether it is safe to clean cultured marble with vinegar. The naysayers state that the cleaner must be PH balanced. What may I clean it with, if not vinegar?
Since marble is such an investment and the vanity is new, I’d play it safe and use a made-for-marble cleaner. Vinegar is almost certainly too acidic, and you want to stay away from anything abrasive or gritty. I’m sure you could make something at home that would work, but if you’ve invested in the marble, I’d spend the few buck on something you’re sure won’t harm it.
Our “Downstairs” (we live in a split-level house, so there’s both a “Downstairs” and a basement) has been a disaster area for most of the four years we’ve lived here, and it’s almost entirely my fault, because most of the disaster is because my “craft area” is down there, and I FAIL at keeping it organized and unfucked.
The used-to-be-a-closet area where we keep Chrsitmas gift wrap, camping equipment, and sundry other stuff:
The camping equipment was sitting in the middle of the floor because this area was too fucked to put it back properly. Now it’s all neatly stored where it’s supposed to be. And the cat has her bed back, too.
Second and Third 20/10
My “craft area” AKA The Dump Zone:
Not only is everything now put away neatly in plastic storage boxes so that I can find it, but I also culled a bunch of stuff into “trash” and “recycle” and “donate” piles as well, so there’s less stuff than when I started - score!
Dear UFYH- Alright, so I got myself into a bit of a predicament. My friend is letting me crash on her couch (more or less) and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to buy Hawaiian punch and drink it while sitting on the floor. End result: bright red stain. I tried to get it out, but not luck. It's on brown and tan carpet. Any ideas?
A) Sippy cups or drink in the kitchen from now on.
B) Mix a little lukewarm water, dish soap, and vinegar. Dab at the stain a few times, then use a clean cloth soaked in the solution and let it sit. Blot up with clear water. Repeat until stain goes away.
Have a car? Grab a trash bag, some tape or a lint roller, and a vacuum (if you can) and get to cleaning. Throw away trash, shake out your floor mats, vacuum up dirt, and lint roll or use tape to clean the seats. DO NOT TRY TO CLEAN THE WINDSHIELD. THAT PATH LEADS TO MADNESS.
OH MY GOD THE PILES OF MAIL. You have ‘em. I have ‘em. They’re OUT OF CONTROL. We’re dealing with them, folks. We’re dealing with them. Those of you with paper shredders, fire ‘em up. No shredder? Get a box or shopping bag at the ready. Sort, file, shred, toss, DEAL WITH YOUR MAIL. This is a big job for many of us, so let’s go a half hour at a time (make sure your shredder doesn’t overheat, OK?), then take a break and go back in again.
NOW, BONUS CHALLENGE: If you’re in the U.S., to help make sure those piles don’t get out of control again, let’s get your name and address on these anti-junk mail lists:
(both of these are links from the FTC website. I have used them both, but have no official endorsement or knowledge blah blah blah.)
BONUS BONUS CHALLENGE:
For those of you who don’t have a paper shredder, Google “community shred [your state/town/area]” and you can often find collection spots and dates where you can bring your boxes of stuff and they shred it, free, right in front of you. There’s probably one coming up soonish. Mark your calendar.
OK, this one was TERRIBLE. I’m sorry. I hate it, too. But did you make some progress?
Daughter of mine, with the sharp eyes, pointed out that I had started, but not finished, tidying up nearly every room in the house. She’s right too. (of course she is, she’s 13, she’s always right, about everything, you just go ahead and ask her)
There’s possibly some deep psychological meaning to this, which if I wasn’t crosseyed from reading pedagogic philosophy and psych textbooks in preparation for classes that start next week, I would go and dig through those very same psych books and find out what it is.
Or it’s also entirely possible it’s an artefact of the whole memory thing. Out of sight, out of mind has rather a different meaning to me than most people (but I try to have fun with that, rather than let it get me down.)
But most likely it’s just a combination of being a) lazy and b) easily distr….ooh shiny!!
But it doesn’t matter! I am perfectly happy! Because the sum of things is: Every room (except the two small bedrooms upstairs) are looking substantially better, if not perfect. Since my usual aim is “perfection” and my usual reality is verging on getting myself on one of those tv shows where people come in and clean out your house for you, having a reality that is “hey, not perfect, but not too damn bad either” is a massive improvement. And having my target and my reality sort of in sync makes both actually feasible too!
So, just reminding myself of that. Publicly, because maybe someone else needs to be reminded too.
I suppose I could have started on the linen closet tonight, but I didn’t feel like I’d get far enough to merit a photograph. And as we all know, the point of this exercise is PIX LOTS OF PRETTY PIX PLS.
So I decided to do what I usually think of as a “small surfaces” clean; I’ve got a couple tables in the main living space, a sofa, a chair, and a piano bench. The chair is currently home to the bag of clothes to donate, and the piano bench has my gear for tomorrow laid out on it, but the rest were amenably photogenic:
Sofa table (and a bit of the sofa), before and after:
(The roll of toilet paper is because I haven’t bought Kleenex for a while, okay?)
Big table, before and after:
I did get rid of all that crud in front of it, too. Now all that’s left is the monitor (needs to be recycled but it’s too heavy to carry myself. It will require a friend with a car), several storage containers that will be used in this week’s closet organization, and (quite frustratingly) the pieces of the towel rack from the bathroom. See, I attached it to the wall again and everything was peachy until I tried to hang an actual bath towel on it. *clatter* *sigh.* Oh well. I’ll have the landlord look at it once the place is clean, I guess.
But that’s not important! It’s the *pictures* that are important. Look, pretty, pretty pictures. happy pictures. pretty pictures…
I can’t find the UfyH post, but someone referred to pinterest, http://pinterest.com/pin/22588435601658943/, which looked so interesting. So today I just couldn’t help but try it, and all my drawers are now pretty, and the shirts, shorts and pants all much easier to find, because you can see all of them. Oh, and there is extra space! Must be magick….. :-)
Not much else of note, but laundry done, more nibbling at the melange on the dining room table, and after the massive job necessary yesterday — happy. :-)
The vertical fold! That and the roll are my favorite ways to store T-shirts.
Can you help me unfuck my laptop? This is gonna sound weird but: I used one of those air cans to get gunk out the keys, and now the keyboard has a weird taste to it. I work from a computer all day, so when I touch the keys and then grab some food or otherwise touch my mouth, I can taste the air car stuff. I've tried baby wipes but the taste is still there. What can I clean my keyboard with to remove this foul taste that won't damage the laptop?
Try wiping the keys down with rubbing alcohol. The taste is likely from a bittering agent they add to canned air to keep people from huffing it. It goes away in time, but alcohol can speed up the process. Just slightly dampen a rag or paper towel; not too wet.
Have you ever considered adding a health/fitness componenet to UfYH, like a "get off your butt and go for a jog" thing? You do such a great job with the site and reminders, I was just thinking how awesome it would be if that sort of thing existed for those of us who lack the willpower to attend to our fitness needs.
I’ve been asked this several times, but I have no intention of getting into the health/fitness arena, and here’s why:
It’s deeply personal. There’s so much variation on what’s “healthy” for people that no one system could possibly be right for everyone.
It’s potentially triggering in a number of ways, and I don’t want to get into that.
It’s far too easy to give bad advice. And unlike bad advice here that really only results in stuff around your house not getting clean, bad health advice is potentially dangerous, and I care about Team UfYH too much for that.
The principles of UfYH (20/10s, doing what you can while working within your own limitations, celebrating your accomplishments instead of beating yourself up for what’s still left to do) can all be applied to many things, health included. I want to leave it up to each person to do what’s right and healthy and best for them.
Basically, I don’t want to fuck around with people’s health. There’s too much potential for harm.
ETA: This is a general answer because I’ve been asked similar questions a number of times, and is no way meant as any kind of dig at the asker, whose intentions were nothing but good and who asked respectfully and who is a valued part of Team UfYH. I just want to be completely clear about that.
So I just moved in with a few roommates and all of their old kitchen appliances and utensils from there last place makes me never want to eat again they're so disgusting. What is a way that you can clean them? I.E. toasters, microwave oven, pots and pans..
Toaster: UNPLUG IT, shake it out thoroughly, wipe down all reachable surfaces with a slightly scrubby sponge with some vinegar and water, followed by a dry towel or paper towel. Use a toothbrush or unused disposable mascara wand to get hard-to-reach spots.
Microwave: Fill a microwave-safe container (Pyrex if you have it) with water and some vinegar or citrus. Nuke it for 3 minutes or so. Steam will result (so be careful when opening the door). The steam will have loosened up some crud inside, so wipe it down using a sponge and the hot water mixture in the container.
Pots and pans: Bar Keepers Friend. Make a paste. Let it sit. Scrub it off. Wash thoroughly. Cook with confidence.
My Habit Streak app informs me that I made my bed 28 days in a row. It did this by saying CONGRATULATIONS YOU DID IT FOR A MONTH or something. I even did it while staying in a hotel for five nights because a made bed is a useful surface.
All my other habits went to hell, but that one stuck. And actually the clearing the table before bed thing stuck pretty well too. UFYH meant there was far less chaos than we’re accustomed to, so we caught our train home with plenty of time to spare.
And home was clean enough that I spotted tiny blood spots on the floor, wiped them up, and found out which of our three cats was hurt and got him brought to the vet to be checked.
Stuck at work and far away from your pantry, closet, and grody bathroom? Take a few minutes and unfuck your emails. Delete what needs deleting, make some logical folders, and get that horrifying “unread” number under control.
Your work doesn’t involve email? (Hey, mine doesn’t. I don’t even have Internet access at work!) Take five minutes and unfuck your immediate workspace. Put stuff back where it belongs, deal with the sea of Post-its, and (this is my favorite) do a quick wipe or dust of your workspace surface. It’ll be gross, I bet. Totally worth it.
I was sitting here trying to persuade myself to toss a load of clothes in the laundry (all those clothes that I picked up from the floor of the closet) so that I could play the Toss/Donate/Put Away game afterwards. I wasn’t having a lot of luck…
But then I realized that not only did I clean the entire closet today, down to vacuuming it, but I also already took out a load of trash which included cleaning out the fridge, the dishwasher is nearing the end of its cycle as I type (there has not been a SINGLE dish left out on the counter since I started this project), and I had actually WIPED DOWN the kitchen counter and microwave today, not as part of a 20, but just because they were getting a little sticky and I thought it should be done.
I… I don’t even.
I think I’m okay with leaving that laundry for tomorrow.