Try starting with the cleaning checklists to get you on a good schedule.
Not embarrassing! I operate from the assumption that lots of people were never taught this stuff, and how could you ever know if you don’t ask? I guarantee at least 20 other people out there have the same question.
As far as wiping down countertops, whatever you have on hand. All-purpose cleaner and a rag, a damp paper towel with half a squirt of hand or dish soap, vinegar and a towel, pretty much anything will do. You shouldn’t need any special tools to do basic maintenance cleaning, and even most in-depth stuff can be accomplished with what you have handy. If you’re stocking your cleaning supplies from scratch, just get a multi-purpose cleanser (there are a million kinds; pick one you like the smell of and you can afford), some cheap dishcloths (or repurpose some otherwise discardable clothes or towels into rags), some sponges, some dish soap, a bottle of vinegar, and a mop. You can use your bathtub as a mop bucket, and there’s very little that can’t be cleaned with multi-purpose cleaner, vinegar, or dish soap.
Sure, I advocate certain products for certain jobs (Magic Erasers/melamine foam sponges are sorcery for a lot of things), but there’s a whole industry built on making you spend money to keep your house clean, and it’s just not necessary.
Currently, I am super frustrated with myself. It isn’t that I don’t want to live in a clean home. It isn’t that I don’t want to have nice things. I do. I want that so very much. But I just… don’t know how to go about it. I have read the UFYH welcome packet. I followed them a while ago, and I have read everything that they post, as well as following the UFYH/Team UFYH tags. And I know, I have seenthat this works for people, that things get done, things get cleaner, more organized, and it doesn’t drive them crazy.
That is what I want. Every day I wake up and tell myself that I am going to do something, anything, even if it is just making one small thing better than it was the day before. I spend a lot of time at work making plans, trying to break them down into easy steps so that it is easy enough for me to do things and not end up being overwhelmed, but then I end up overwhelmed by the amount of steps that I have created for myself.
I am trying to give myself a break, and a fresh new start, but every day that I make plans to get things done and then end up doing nothing, I lose a little bit more hope. I’m afraid that soon there will be nothing left, and I will end up like someone on an episode of Hoarders. Or just someone who can’t invite friends over, can’t have anyone in my apartment. That isn’t who I want to be!
I don’t know what to do, or where to start anymore.
OK. Start by stopping with the lists and the steps. They’re useful for some people, at some stages, but they are clearly not serving you here, so let go of that tactic for now. Here’s where I want you to start, either right now (if you’re home), or the moment you get home from work, before you change your clothes or anything.
Set a timer, any timer, for five minutes. Wash dishes for five minutes. If you don’t have dirty dishes, then spend that five minutes on the first surface you see that needs cleaning. When the five minutes is done, stop. Go get changed, do whatever you do after work. Once that’s all done, set a timer for another five minutes. Do five minutes again, either on dishes or your surface. When time’s up, stop. That’s it for today.
This week, do two five minute sessions each day. That’s it. Will your apartment be clean at the end of the week? Nope. And that’s OK, because it will be cleaner.
Next week, up your timer to ten minutes each time. And don’t forget to stop. Then up to 20 when you’re ready, but not before that.
Take pictures before you start, because as you’re working in the midst of all of it, you might not be able to see improvement. You never have to post or share those pictures, but you should have them for yourself, so you have solid proof that you made things better so you can make your brain hush when it tells you that you aren’t making progress.
You can do this. You are not beyond help. You have a whole bunch of Internet strangers cheering you on. You just have to get started.
Help! (That’s not too original, but it succinctly expresses what I need.)
I have severe ADHD, which isn’t an excuse, but an explanation. I think. Sometimes I can’t tell anymore. One of the worst aspects is that I don’t have the ability to organize. Everything ends up in piles and I’m easily frustrated. I can sort and I have no problem getting rid of stuff, but my bedroom looks like it belongs to a hoarder because it seems no matter how much I sort and trash, I’ve never been able to figure out how to arrange my space in a workable way, and before I know it, the piles are back and I’m miserable.
My current issue is that I have piles upon piles to work with, and no clear space to sort anything. My walk-in closet has piles almost to the ceiling, my dresser drawers are crammed, and I have a pile of clothes 3 feet high in front of the dresser, so even getting to the drawers to clean them out is problematic. I can’t clean or sort because I have no where to sort and no where to put anything because it all needs to be done. I am so overwhelmed and don’t even know where or how to start.
To make matters worse, I’m on a deadline. I love the idea of taking things slow and gradual, because the all-or-nothing thought process that comes with my ADHD makes cleaning even harder. But in less than 2 weeks, my boyfriend is coming for a visit. We are a long distance couple (he’s in England, I’m in the US), and our visits don’t happen often. Last time he was here, my room was so bad he had to sleep on the fold out couch in the living room. I don’t want to do that to him again.
At this point, I don’t even care if it’s perfect, but I’d like my room to look like a normal person lives there, not a hoarder. So I guess my questions boil down to these: how can I sort/put anything away when every part of my room is fucked up, how can I get my room somewhat presentable for my boyfriend’s visit?
I’m motivated to fix this because I’m tired of living this way, but I just want to sit and cry because I don’t know how to start.
I’m going to guess, not counting the time it takes to do laundry, you can have this done in no more than 3 20/10s a day for the next two weeks. I’d actually be surprised if it took that many.
Flat surfaces first. Dresser, nightstand, table, counters. Then dishes if you have them. Then your floordrobe, random shoes, finish unpacking, put your luggage away, and then move methodically through each room, taking breaks as you go.
Ooh, I’m qualified for this! I work ten hour days in a stand up and be busy industry (although not food service). I find on days that I work, I need to do a 20/10 or two AS SOON as I walk in the door. Once I change or sit down, it’s exponentially harder to get back up.
Take it one square foot at a time. Don’t look at the entire mess, just pick a spot and start there. You may want to treat the cat mess first; an enzymatic cleaner like Nature’s Miracle or Simple Solution or something like hydrogen peroxide can help.
For the computers, find places near you that will recycle electronics. If you’re in the U.S., start here. Many big box/office supply stores also have programs in place.
Good luck, pace yourself, take your breaks, and keep us posted.
So when did my house get away from me? Let’s see, it was the start of the restatement project at work and the 60-80 work weeks. Combined with the starting of meds for fibro, which also made me realize that my CDO* tendencies were rooted in anxiety. So not only did my pain levels get depressed on an antidepressant, so did my give-a-damn.
Basically, we are talking, um, years. Like 2008. So 2 years of work hell followed by career path change which meant full-time to eventual part time work while in school full times, and then hello, new baby on top of all of that.
When I say my life/house/everything is fucked, I mean it.
And it has bothered me. But that just made me freeze more. Add exhaustion of the physical and mental variety, and I’m sorry, but I am not getting out of my comfy green chair. Internets, entertain me! Distract me from the pit that is supposed to be my home. Lalalalala, I can’t see you.
So I must finally be feeling better. Because, shit, I can see this crap. Big time. But omg, where do I begin.
I figured a little light reading of the humorous variety: one year to an organized life. I’m still laughing. Only, whoa, maybe it isn’t so overwhelming. If you pace yourself, think about organizing, think about your spaces and what you want them to be, you can take it on, bit by bit. This is what I need. And, she wants you to journal the process. Journal what you want to accomplish (hey, this tumblr will actually get used!), where is the disorganization coming from (hello, depression and illness!), and what can you do to shift your thinking, your habits.
Works wonderfully with the humorous and yet encouraging unfuckyourhabit.tumblr.com. Oh, yeah. Thank you Stephanie for giving the internets that link one Sunday. I mean, the smalls burst of 20 minutes one/10 minutes off is nothing new, but the pictures, the stories, and the creeping sense of motivation that began to fill me, that’s what I needed.
Last week, before I brushed my teeth, the disaster of a bookshelf next to my bed was cleaned and organized so I now longer feel the hovering doom of I’m-A-Lazy-Slob watching me as I sleep. And in the same burst, the tile in the shower got scrubbed. I can now keep my eyes open when I step in there.
So here I am on a 10 minute break in the middle of overhauling the mudroom/laundry area. Because seriously, do I have to store paper towels and toilet paper down stairs? Can’t I keep it up where I can get it quickly (as I chase a toddler) and yo, that shelf above the washer is just a mess. As is the utility closet opposite it. Chop, chop! Take some bites out of the project. Think of how awesome it will be to walk into your house and be faced with Clean and Pretty and Neat!
I won’t get it all done overnight, but I now know that small bites are okay. After all, how do you eat and elephant but one bite at a time.
(and yes, I totally did not do before pics. But I will do after pics, because this is gonna be purdy!)
*OCD for those not afflicted to the point of keeping the damn letters in alphabetical order
OK. You need to start slowly. Major changes too quickly are not going to be helpful or healthy for you here. I’m going to give you some steps, but do not try to do them all at once. It may be a day or a week or two weeks in between each one. That’s fine. It’s been four years. You can take a little time here.
The first thing I want you to do is make your bed. I know. But here’s why: it’ll give you a home base to go back to if you get overwhelmed. Start by stripping the bed and washing your sheets. Re-make the bed once it’s done.
Your next step, whenever you’re ready to take it, is to clear out any dishes that are in your room. Take them to the kitchen and put them in to soak in the sink.
Next, again, when you’re ready, grab a trash bag and throw away obvious, actual garbage. Food wrappers, price tags, dryer sheets, empty shopping bags, whatever is clearly and undeniably trash. You may need two or three or five bags. That’s fine. When you’re satisfied that you’ve gotten the obvious trash, take the bags out to wherever your trash goes.
Next, pick one surface. Your nightstand or dresser or desk. Just deal with that one surface. Find a place for every item on it (even if that place is the trash), clear it off, give it a good wipedown, and organize it.
To continue, you’re going to work your way methodically around the room, dealing with just a square foot or so at a time. Give yourself time to get used to the changes. See if you can pinpoint how you feel when you look at a cleaned area. Is it anxious? Relieved? Proud? If it’s anxious, give yourself more time. If it’s relieved or proud, you’re probably OK to keep going. Work around the room systematically, making sure to work slowly and take your breaks.
You’ll get there. I know you will because you want to. Check in here, get support, get ideas, whatever. But you can do this. You wrote to me because you want to do this, and so you can do this.
Deal with one box. Find a home for all of its contents (even if it’s the trash/recycling/donation bin). Break down the box and take it out of the house. Take a break. Do one 20/10 somewhere else. Then another box. Repeat as needed, but not so much that you get overwhelmed. And stop looking at the big picture for a while. Focus on one box, or one surface, or one small area of one room at a time.
Start in the worst room or the room you spend the most time in. Work in 20/10s or 45/15s, whichever you’re more comfortable with. Work in small sections (one surface, one piece of furniture, etc.) at a time. Make sure if you’re throwing out/recycling/donating things that those items get out of the house and to the appropriate destination. Don’t let them linger after you’ve dealt with them.
Always start with the step that’s going to result in things being thrown away. I’d say clothes first, then room, one surface/piece of furniture at a time, and then books, in 20/10s or 45/15s.
I don’t love the “empty everything out” plan, if only because it’s way too big of a chunk of project to take on at once. Work your way around the room. Start with one surface or one square foot of floordrobe, deal with that, then move on to the next. That way, when it’s break time, you don’t have a mountain of stuff somewhere else still left to deal with.