Unfuck Your Habitat

You're better than your mess.



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This week, we’re going to deal with our invisible corners. These are the little piles, stacks, or collections of random things that have settled into odd spaces like the corner of a room, under a table, at the end of a counter, etc. that have become so much a part of the everyday landscape of our homes that we don’t even notice them anymore.

Walk into a room. Take a critical look around and see if you have a bunch of crap that your eyes and brain have been tuning out for a while. Deal with that crap. Do at least one 20/10 each day, getting to as many of your invisible corners as you can.

This week, identify your worst, most mess-attracting surface (dining room table? kitchen counter? coffee table?) and deal with it once and for all. On Day 1, do a few 20/10s to clear it off (it may take less time than you think), and then each day, make sure it’s cleared off and reset to clean at least once during the day. Mess multiplies, so don’t give it anything to build on.

Remember, when you clear it off, don’t just relocate the mess. Put everything where it belongs, or find a place for it to belong.

This week, we’re back to basics with “put it away, not down.” Take the extra few seconds to put things back where they belong instead of just down on the closest surface.

Collect all of the dishes from around the house and put them in the dishwasher or sink. Bonus: wash them.

Find ten things that are on the floor that shouldn’t be. Put them away. The internet will still be there when you’re done.

Take a few minutes, clear everything off of your bathroom counter, wipe it and the sink down, wipe the toilet down and give the bowl a quick scrub, and give the floor a once-over with a broom or dry sweeper (such as a Swiffer).

Or possibly a phone or a tablet, but close enough. Move your eyeballs away from the screen and look to the closest flat surface, whether it’s your desk, your nightstand, the coffee table, or your workspace. It could be the very surface that your computer is on! Clean it off. Come on, you can survive away from the Internet for a few minutes.

Look up from your computer, tablet, or phone. Find five things that aren’t where they belong. Put them away. Resume your regularly scheduled screwing around on the internet.

Look up from your computer (or phone). Find five things that aren’t where they belong. Put them away. Resume dicking around on the internet.

Pick one shelf or surface and clean it off. Sort, throw out or recycle, put away anything that doesn’t belong there, wipe down the surface, and replace any items neatly. 

Put away anything on the counter that lives elsewhere. Wipe down the countertop, sink, toilet lid and seat. Sweep/dust mop all hair off the floor. Pour a little all-purpose cleanser into the toilet bowl and give a quick scrub.

This week, challenge yourself to putting things away instead of down. Does that packaging belong in the trash and not on the coffee table? Throw it away. Should that spoon go in the dishwasher (or should you just wash it)? Do that instead of leaving it on the counter. Taking off your shoes at the end of the day? Put them back where they belong instead of leaving them where they fall.

Put it away, not down.

You have a bunch of clothes sitting around. I know you do. Whether they’re clean and piled in a basket, or dirty and on the floor, or probably a bunch of both, they aren’t where they belong. Take 20 minutes to put that shit away. Clean: in drawers, hung up, or folded and put away. Dirty: in the hamper (or even better, in the washer). Vanquish the floordrobe.

Or possibly a phone or a tablet, but close enough. Move your eyeballs away from the screen and look to the closest flat surface, whether it’s your desk, your nightstand, or the coffee table. It could be the very surface that your computer is on! Clean it off. Come on, you can survive away from the Internet for a few minutes.

Pick a kitchen counter. Clear off anything that doesn’t belong on it. Wash any dishes, throw away trash, and put things back in their correct homes. Wipe down the counter and any appliances or items that stay on it full-time.