Three Magic Words for a Clean Home and a Better Life

Not a natural tidying and organizing whiz? Take hope in one short phrase that can change your life forever.

Ask anyone who knows me well: For years and years, a passion of mine was cleaning and organizing. This might lead you to believe that our home was a bastion of tidiness and order, but the truth is, I was constantly fighting against chaos. Unfortunately it was more a battle of the mind: I read books and tried various plans; I studied my organized friends and family and thought about it incessantly. Looking back I can see all I needed to do was get rid of at least half my stuff, establish some cleaning routines and set up a few systems.

Half of you probably read that last sentence, pressed your lips together and thought, “Yes! Of course!” while the rest slumped across your keyboards and wept, “Why don’t we just climb Mount Everest while we’re at it, Alison!”

Hang in there, all y’all. I promise you, the three words are not “Just do it.”

To the first group, you know you don’t need my help. You have a place for everything, and you make darn sure everything is in its place, and yet you might be living with a person or two who can’t seem to understand this. Do you routinely find yourself, pillow in hand, stalking the house, intent on smothering your loved ones? Perhaps you could use a little support, after all.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll refer to our different camps as the Naturally Organized and the Not Naturally Organized, but both parties will be referred to as “she,” because I’m a woman and it’s easier.

When something is out of place — say, a piece of paper that overshot the wastebasket or a pencil that rolled off a table — a Naturally Organized person spies it instantly. Lights flash and alarms sound. She scurries to pick it up and immediately put or throw it away. This is reflexive; she doesn’t even think about it. She can’t help herself, and she can’t understand how her Not Naturally Organized loved ones are able to walk right by. Can’t they see?

The answer is yes and no. I’m sorry.

When a person who is Not Naturally Organized walks by something out of place, it’s not that she doesn’t see it — she probably does, but it just might not be consciously. Perhaps she is trying to stay focused on whatever task she is doing. She might see the piece of paper or the fallen pencil, and if she does, she tells herself, “I’ll get that later.” She almost certainly doesn’t hear herself think this. She will probably pass the object several more times, and each time she tells herself, “Later,” until she finally picks it up or — as is more often the case — one of her Naturally Organized family members does.

If you are struggling to organize your home, you may scoff at the suggestion that picking up one piece of paper or a solitary little pencil is really going to make a difference, and you’re right, unless it really is a battle of the mind and the only single thing is the pervasive thought “Later,” which never comes.

If you are Not Naturally Organized like I am, here’s my suggestion: Live your life and go about your day but try to listen for the “Later”s. It might take a while for you to hear them, but you will eventually, if you persist. Perhaps you’ll be walking down the hall headed for your bedroom, when you see it: a stray sock lying in the middle of the floor and — as clear as a bell — you hear, “I’ll get that later.” Normally you would walk right on by but you’re finally onto yourself. Order and mayhem hang in the balance of what you do next.

This is the time for the three magic words, and you must say them in the most upbeat tone you can muster: “How about now?”

I’m not kidding you.

It’s a sock. Easy peasy, right? Ho, ho, ho! No. Running underwater with cement shoes would be a stroll in the park compared to this. Just try it. Time will slow down, the air will grow thick and this teeny, tiny thing — the paper, the pencil, the sock, whatever — will feel like the heaviest thing in the world. Just remember, civilization is counting on you, and magic is on your side. Pick up the item and trudge to wherever it belongs — trash, desk, drawer — and put it in its place. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And your life will change.

It really is as simple and as arduous as that.

Perhaps you have never really thought about organizing. Maybe the only reason you’re reading this is because someone you love thrust it at you. This person is almost certainly Naturally Organized. Steal a glance: Does she appear to be in prayer? Check her breath; if she isn’t holding it, it’s almost certainly coming loudly and through her mouth. You are looking at someone in pain.

What’s the big deal? It’s just a piece of paper/pencil/sock/coffee mug/beer bottle/set of keys/wallet/pair of sunglasses/pair of shoes/sweatshirt/towel! Does it even matter? Multiply that by a hundred or a million, though, and it all begins to pile up — in every sense of the phrase. And by the same token, if you do this small thing — pick up, throw or put away — over and over again, all of it, the mess, the frustration and the strife — like magic — will disappear.


By: Alison Hodgson

Orson B.Klender,  Associate Broker

Keller Williams Realty Saratoga Springs
38 High Rock Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

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Cell: 1 (518) 588-2319 ~ Fax: 1(866) 588-6066


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About Real Estate Agent in Saratoga Springs

As an agent who's an expert in this local area, I bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise about buying and selling real estate here. It's not the same everywhere, so you need someone you can trust for up-to-date information. I am eager to serve you.

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