How to Be Tidy Without "Life-Changing Magic"
I'm gonna tell you a secret about picking your stuff up: It's not any harder when you do it right away.
If you hate
You don't have to become a whole new person. You just have to pick up one thing. And then, a little while later, one more thing. And so on.
Don't Put It Down, Put It Away
When you clean up a spill, you start at the source. To tidy up, first stop leaving things out. When you get
You don't have to go crazy. You don't have to be one of those monk-like ascetics who washes the dishes immediately after dinner. Just pick one thing that you hate picking up, and start putting it away instead of putting it down. Now you never have to pick it up again.
Don't Step Over It
My mom kept a five-person
You don't have to be the world's garbageman and carry around a little bottle of Purell like I do. Just refuse to trip over your own shit. Pick it up instead. Feel bad for yourself. Do the whole Paul Rudd dramatic routine . Really explore the space. Seriously, it'll feel great.
Don't Leave a Room Without Bringing Something
It feels schoolmarmish to write these out! But have you ever seen a schoolmarm who doesn't have her shit together? Anyway, whenever you go from one room to another, bring something to put away.
This is an exceptionally good way to clean up your car. Once you've done this two or three times, you'll get greedy and try to see how many pieces of garbage you can take into the house at once, as if you're carrying in the groceries. Good.
Embrace the Junk Drawer
If you leave shit out because you don't know where it "goes," relax. You don't have to find a special home for everything, or buy it a home at the Container Store. Just shove it in a big ol' box or drawer or closet.
Your junk drawer won't be a fun place. But at least it's just one place (or two or three), and not your bedroom floor. That's still better! Maybe someday you can clean out your junk drawer, but if you don't, who cares? Just keep it dry, keep it from overflowing, and don't store anything that rots or molds or smells.
Have Company Over
If you do want to shock-treat your home, give yourself a reason. Invite some people over, with a few days' notice. If you're good at cleaning -wiping up spills, washing dishes-but not tidying , then you can even host a party. (Some of us find it easier to vacuum and throw out forty beer bottles than to pick up our pile of shirts.)
Otherwise just have one or two people over for dinner, people who are fancier than you, people you want to impress. People you're likely to tidy up for. Either way, this gives you both a deadline and a reward.
If that won't get you moving, have a friend over for the cleaning. Let them sit there while you pick everything up. Complain to them the entire time. Then go buy them dinner.
Accept that Tidying Sucks
No one likes cleaning up. That's why the people who do like it become millionaire gurus. As Deadspin's Albert Burneko pointed out in his pep talk "Clean Up Now," cleaning will always be drudgery. (If you'd rather skip all my baby steps and clean up all at once, read his piece to get motivated.)
See, being tidy doesn't mean enjoying to clean. It just means breaking the work into tiny steps so it can't overwhelm you. It's a cheat. And as they say, cheaters always win.