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It’s Time To Get Real (and Painfully Honest!)

A few days ago over on the A2D Facebook page, I had a reader ask me how I stay so organized in such a small home. All I could do was laugh. Organized? Me? Not even hardly. Oh, I want to be. But I’m not. At all.

And that made me realize how easy it is to put forth a certain image online…one that isn’t necessarily true. When I need to snap a picture, I simply shove all of the junk over to one side so that it’s out of frame. Oh sure, that’s natural. But it’s gives a false impression…almost a lie. I mean, when all you’ve seen are pictures of my kitchen like this…

…then you probably don’t understand that lately, more times than not, my kitchen looks something like this…

Not quite the same “everything in its place” image, huh?

So why am I sharing this? Because I just felt like it’s time to be honest–not only with you, but also with myself. When all I post are the pretty pictures, I start to somehow believe this lie that everything is okay.

Well, it’s not. I took the picture above last night right before I went to bed. The other side of my kitchen looks like this…

And that’s only my kitchen.  The rest of my condo right now looks just about as bad.  A chair in the bedroom piled so high with laundry that the chair isn’t even visible…tools, paint, and other “DIY” items pushed up along the walls…projects EVERYWHERE…piles of laundry that need to be washed.

It’s out of control.

And even though I live in the midst of the mess, I don’t think I realized how out of control it was until last night. 

You see, I was over at The Inspired Room, having a lovely visit, when I saw an item on the sidebar labeled “How I Keep My House ‘Clean Enough'”.  It caught my attention, so I clicked, and I read, and I thought to myself, “Yes, these are great tips!  I’ll need to start doing these.”

But still in my mind, I was holding on to the lie that things were still pretty okay…until I read the first comment on that post that ended with…

“…I realised I would soon be living with CHAOS (can’t have anyone over syndrome.)”

C.H.A.O.S.–Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome!!!

Those words hit me like a ton of bricks, and immediately the lie was shattered.  That is ME!!! 

When I hear someone knock at the door, I panic.  When I open the door, I step outside to talk to the person, closing the door behind me so that they can’t peek in, and praying to God that the not-so-fresh smells from my days-old piled up dishes in the kitchen, and my hasn’t-had-a-bath-in-a-month dog, and the hasn’t-been-cleaned-out-in-three-days litter box haven’t wafted past the nose of the person standing outside.

It’s madness, and something needs to be done.

I’ve convinced myself that I’m just so busy…too busy. I have too much on my plate. I work so hard during the day. I deserve a break. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. No one person should have to do so much.   Poor me!! Pooooor me!!

HOGWASH!!

When I really get honest, I don’t have a lack-of-time problem.  I have a time management problem.  Plus, things are so out of control, and it’s such an overwhelming and monumental task to get organized (which, honestly, it REALLY IS when you live in such a tiny place and have tons of tools and stuff), that I just keep putting it off.

Well, not anymore.  It’s time for me to find a cure for my C.H.A.O.S.  Right now, I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do it.  They Flylady way?  The Pomodoro Method?  I don’t know.  But something’s gotta give.

But I’m starting with this…starting today, I’m making a committment to myself that I won’t go to bed until my kitchen is clean.  I have to start somewhere. Don’t they say you have to do something for 21 days for it to become a habit? That’s what Matt tells me, so that’s what I’m going to do. I’m committing for the next 21 days that I will not go to bed without cleaning my kitchen.

Now I just need to figure out how to tackle all of the other areas.

Do you have any suggestions for me?  We’re all super busy, so that excuse is certainly not uniquely my own.  What routines do you implement around your house to keep it “clean enough”?

Don’t forget! Your comment enters you into this month’s drawing for a $100 gift card to the home products store of the winner’s choosing. More info here.



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48 Comments

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Mrs. DeVore
    February 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Just found your blog through "Better After" and I love it! I'm your newest follower 🙂 Love the way that bathroom turned out and the light fixtures you've made are awesome. I have a thing for turning unusual things into light fixtures as well!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Chamallie
    February 17, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I have a 3 yr old and a 10 mth old and a husband. I live in an 1900 sq ft house. Everyday I clean …EVERYDAY!! When you do that your home basically stays clean. I don't clean twice a week or 4 times a week. I don't have designated cleaning days and that's why people always tell me they cannot believe how clean my house is for having 2 young kids. BUT there are days(almost everyday) when my house looks like a hurricane(aka my 3 yr old) passed through it. I clean and then it goes back to looking like that again and I clean again. The key is to make sure everything has it's place and it does..everything DOES have a place we just have to make sure we are not being lazy. I've had my lazy moments where I would pass by a shirt or toy on the floor 3 times and I either ignore it or kick it to the side. Then I say to myself "stop being lazy and bend down and pick that up. I hate putting clothes away..sometimes the laundry will sit in the dryer for 2 days but then I take a deep breath, get it out, sort it and put them away. YOu have designated places for all your stuff and that's where they belong. That's the simplest way to get rid of clutter and mess. Of course there are things we have that we just don't need. Throw them out..you know what you need and what you've will never use that you've been hanging on to for years. Good Luck 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Anonymous
    February 17, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    It's amazing how timely this post is. I had the same realization just last week… after I told the guy I've been seeing for about 2 months that he couldn't drop by after work. This was the *third time* I did this! I made up excuses as for why he couldn't stop by but it was really because I'd have to clean for hours before I'd actually let him in the house. And I could tell he was disappointed.

    My mother was the same way growing up. The house was never a complete disaster (and neither is mine) but it was enough of a mess to be too embarrassing to have people over. I mean, I'll actually clean up the living room (and by clean up I mean move the clutter to another room) before I'll answer the door for the pizza delivery guy. I decided enough was enough when I realized it was affecting my relationship. So I took a night and just cleaned. I dusted, vacuumed, organized, declutter, washed, put away, and anything else you can think of. I am now determined to put things away as I go, no more piles, no more clutter. At the end of the day if anything is dirty or out of place I take care of it before I go to bed. And I've realized it takes a lot less time to just clean up as I go than to let it become a disaster and then try to clean it all, all at once.

    So thank you for sharing, and letting me know I'm not alone. I know we can do this.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Anonymous
    February 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you,
    After seeing so many of your beautiful photos I kept asking myself – why can't I do that.

    I love DIY projects and have many (finished and unfinished). But everything is out of control.

    I am working on "weeding out" my "too full" life, but a lot of my "stuff" is good stuff. Paint, tools crafts, projects, and all the items that make those projects possible.
    Still, we WANT to live in the "after" photos and then next thing we know they are cluttered up again.

    I worried that I was a hoarder! In some ways I am, but this is NOT junk. It's useful. The biggest problem is the "everything in it's place" Good storage is important.
    I know this does not help much, but we have to continue to come together and discuss this. We have to keep doing our projects because those are the things that help us to become organized.

    We are busy and our lives today are different than those of years gone by. We need to reduce our buying habits and get rid of the useless things and then find a "place" for the useful things that we decide to keep.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ali
    February 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I am right there with you with the CHOAS! & about the this has to change NOW.

    My focus is on making things work for me instead of just liking them enough to keep them cluttering my place. Everything this is going to have to pay its rent in function or joy. Bye bye to all the stuff that I no longer need in my life.

    Also I joined in the 365 Days of Decluttering challenge. At a minimum I need to donate, toss or give away one things everyday to help eliminate all the "extra".

    Good luck. Honestly I don't think anyone normal has the 100% clean, perfectly organize all the time house. We all have at least the crammed up junk drawer or freaky, watch out as you open the door closet!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kim-A Creative Spirit
    February 17, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    OH MY Kristi, I loveyou even more now… Parts of my home look JUST LIKE THAT. I have been working the Fly Lady plan….taking my baby steps very slowly but I have been keeping my kitchen cleaner. NOT totally clean but cleaner. YOU CAN DO IT

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Anonymous
    February 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    We recently went from living in a 3100 sq ft home to living in an RV that has to be ready to move at a moment's notice, so I know how challenging it is to have everything you need organized in a small space.

    The only way to do it neatly is to cull your belongings. Keep only the things you need in your daily or weekly life in your small home. Things you need only on occasion must be kept in storage. Here's the real trick – once you find a place for everything and have everything looking the way you want it to, that's it! If all your storage spaces are filled up, you simply don't allow yourself to add more stuff. The only way you allow yourself to bring other items into your home is by deciding what you will get rid of. It becomes a trade off rather than an adding to.

    You also have to get into the habit of looking a room over before you leave it, and if anything is out of place, put it in it's place before moving on. If you learn to pick up after yourself (and often, someone else, too) as you go, it never becomes a huge, overwhelming mess.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    courteneykay
    February 17, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    wow, so honest. I love it. It makes me feel like I am not the only one with problems like this.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Melissa @ The Inspired Room
    February 17, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    You can do it!!! 😉 Thanks for the mention! One step at a time!! LOVE your kitchen cabinet color!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sunny
    February 17, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I live in a 1300 square foot home, so I understand living small. Advice #1 get rid of anything you are not using or you only rarely use. DECLUTTER DECLUTTER! DECLUTTER! Start building your routines with the things that will make the greatest impact on your life. Realize that the first few weeks will take longer to clean, but as you get the house cleaned up, it will go quicker and easier. The biggest thing that has helped me is to get rid of the drama regarding house cleaning. Just do it. It takes almost as much time and energy to gripe about cleaning as it does to actually clean. Good luck. You can do it.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sarah
    February 17, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    I used to be a habitual clutterer. Then I read some article that suggested cleaning up for just 30 minutes a day. It doesn't matter where – just start and do if for 30 minutes. I've found that I don't even spend 30 minutes anymore… and once you have things under control if you skip a day or two it's not the end of the word. Things are a lot less overwhelming if you take them on in 30 minute increments!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Cammee
    February 17, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    One thing I found that works for me is, I don't have a "cleaning day". It's easier for me, with a busy life, to find a half hour to scrub bathrooms one day and 15 minutes to scrub my kitchen floor another day. Trying to get it all done in one day doesn't work into my schedule, but fitting things in each day does. I also try not to let a day pass without doing laundry. With 6 of us it piles up fast and then can feel overwhelming. That being said, my house is never perfect, but good enough that I don't panic when someone stops by or my teenagers bring friends home.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating
    February 17, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Sarah, I like that idea, and it actually sounds reasonable! I can always find 30 minutes a day.

    That reminds me of the Pomodoro Method. Perhaps I need to get myself one of those cute little timers to feel inspired. 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Liz
    February 17, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    I take 15 minutes every morning (after we take the older son to school) to pick up the house, make beds and make sure the house "looks" clean. I always make sure my living room is tip top incase someone stops by too. Since we have no front hall we have to keep it orderly.

    I also NEVER go to bed with a messy kitchen! I take 15 minutes before bed to make sure it is clean and out away. It starts the chaos of the day better knowing there is nothing to tackle in there!

    Then each day I tackle one room to really clean it (dust, clean, mop, vacuum etc). If I stay on that cycle the house never becomes "too dirty". Only when we are entertaining (which we do a lot) does the house get the "companies coming" clean! If you start a routine and keep it up, it is easy to keep it clean and orderly.

    My definition of clean is WAY different since having kids. If I think it looks orderly, it is clean to me now. Dust happens, and no one is that good to keep your house, no matter what size, dust free at all times.

    Good luck!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sarah
    February 17, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    THANK YOU!! I love seeing the real you, a you that I can really relate to!

    I also struggle with clutter and am working to change that…and teach my girls to deal with it as well!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristi
    February 17, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    You are being really hard on yourself Kristi, no body can do everything, something always slides.

    I did FLY Lady for a bit when my very close in age children were little, but what has ended up working best for me is to break things up, Monday & Tuesday are laundry day, Wednesday bathroom day, etc. Nothing is spotless but everything is picked up & company thinks its spotless!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    The Vintage Polka Dot
    February 17, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    My house is only 1200 square feet. I have a very small kitchen and very little counter space.
    How I stay out of CHAOS is I got real with myself and what I actually use in the kitchen. I got rid of utensils, gadgets, appliances and the like that I never use.

    I bought three large 125th anniversary Ball Canning jars for foods we use often like rice, beans and flour. I have these on my counter where I do most of my food prep. I get what I need, pop the lid back on and slide it back where it belongs and out of my way.

    I bought a large size trash can with a popup lid. I leave the lid open for easy "pitch it in the trash" access. Close it when company comes 🙂 I also have three stackable bins for recycling that I keep right outside the door in my garage. I keep the side lids open for easy access in particular large items like gallon size jugs that can be a pain to deal with.

    Brenda

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jennie
    February 17, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Dear Kristi,

    Oh how I know this feeling! I have tried flylady as well and she has many good things. For me it didn't start with the kitchen sink, it was my laundry that spilled out everywhere. I looked at my house at the main culprit and focused on that. My house is staying much cleaner now.

    Also, years ago I discovered a cleaning system called "Speed Cleaning" by Jeff Campbell. It claims to cut your cleaning time in half and it really does! I am not a perpetual cleaner, I can't be with 5 little kids (including new twins). I'd go crazy. But one day a week, I put the house back together and clean it. This system is so amazing!! It has really changed my cleaning life. And lowered my stress level.

    I just posted on my blog with before and afters and times. (Scroll past the gardening post) If you want to check it out *www.TheCouponBinder.blogspot.com. Also for Jeff's website http://www.TheCleanTeam.com.

    Good luck and thank you for all your posts. I check in everyday with you and love how real you are about everything!! Keep up the good work!

    loads of love,
    Jennie
    *p.s. I'm not trying to get anything from this. (My blog is not monetized) I have tried and failed at flylady for 9 years. This is the system finally worked for me.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    ~*~Felicia~*~
    February 17, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    My husband is actually very much a neat-freak, has time management down to an art, and is very organized. Me…not so much. He pushes me to make sure the house is clean all the time and things have their places otherwise he goes nuts when things are a mess lol He's a good motivation to make sure everything is somewhat presentable in case someone does drop by!!!

    I do agree that starting with the kitchen is a huge step. I try to always makes sure my kitchen is straightened up and cleaned before I go to bed. I hate life at night when I'm having to do it lol but when I wake up in the morning to a clean kitchen it makes it all worth it!!!

    p.s. we too live in a very tiny little place so the smallest thing out of place is magnified by a million!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    The O's
    February 17, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    I feel like I used to really struggle with this but just recently I have started to really implement my own plan to keeping my house from that "oh my goodness someone's at the front door every hide and pretend like no one's home" feeling! =) Basically, I just do a little bit each day. I try to always do one load of laundry a day and I've completely eliminated the huge piles of laundry that used to be spilling from my laundry room that were just TOO overwhelming to even tackle. One day I will vacuum, the next day I will dust, and the next I will do bathrooms,etc. So, basically I went from doing a FULL day of cleaning the entire house top to bottom and being exhausted at the end of the day, to just cleaning about 30-45 minutes a day, everyday. It's working for me! I feel SO much better about my house these days! (I'm married, with 3 kids, a dog and a 1500sq foot house)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ann
    February 17, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    I clean everyday too. I skip a day, and I can't stand it. But I have 2 dogs, a cat, a hubs, and 3 kids. So its never-ending. Laundry is on Tuesday. I do it all day until its done. Wed I put it all away. The absolute worst is the kitchen mess. I find it's a lot easier to clean if I clean as I cook. It drives everyone crazy as I say: Don't use another knife! Just wipe that one off! Clear up the crumbs as you make them! Wash the bowl out don't just leave it in the sink! But it has to be done. When I give myself a day off, its three times the mess the next day. Great post.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Becky
    February 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    My partner and I are just moving out of a house and into a new (to us) home that is smaller and a completely different lay out. With plans to start a family we have realized that we need to become grown ups and actually have an organized (for us) home. The first step we decided to do was to lay out a chore chart. Small things for each of us to do because otherwise we would fall back into the trap of "you never/I always" blaming of housework. We got it laminated and stuck it up on the Fridge for the whole world to see. So far it has been working. Our biggest problems are laundry and keeping the dishes done. We realized that avoiding laudnry is so silly because when we do it togehter, we actually have a good time talking with each other as we hang up and fold the clothes. We made a little theme of 'new house, new life, new beginnings' and it is working out so far for us!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sammy
    February 18, 2011 at 2:56 am

    Oh yes, I know the feeling. My house is 720 square feet, and it's me, my husband, and our 2 year old. Yeah. Haven't exactly mastered that "everything in it's place" mantra yet, but we're trying. Slowly but surely we're weeding out the stuff we don't need and winging it in the meantime!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Laurie
    February 18, 2011 at 3:15 am

    Oh I hear you- I have a rule in my house (that only I do, but that's another story). If I walk by or have to step over something that is not where it is suppose to be 3 times I have to pick it up and find its home.

    My problem was, I will get to it later…So now I try really hard to clean as I go. I also try to set times limits- like the laundry, after it is folded needs to have a home the next day. No I don't get everything, but it is getting better. I have gotten to the point that messy is not as messy as it use to be. Try and get a good cleaning and then work from there. It just takes time. Ha, I talk as if I have my house together- Nope laundry on the sofa in in the upstairs hallway. Good luck and thanks for sharing.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    nebula
    February 18, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Thank you so much for your honesty! I just found your blog today and after reading I feel inspired and its nice to know that I am not alone! No more excuses and no more putting it off! 30 minutes and a load of laundry a day.I'm going for it starting right now!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    kelsey
    February 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    This post made me laugh 🙂 Its life!! I am a single parent with a three year old and have found something that works. Of course this doesn't involve cleaning up after dinner and laundry, but we, mostly I, spend 10 minutes every night putting things away. I always feel so much better when I wake up in the morning and the clutter and toys, and little things are put away. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kim
    February 18, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Oh wow! Thanks for this post!! I am still laughing about the C.H.A.O.S! I'm using that for sure. All too often bloggers post such pretty pictures all the time. After a while you start to think, "Gee … crafts with the kids, wonderful meals, creating home decor and still an organized home? What the heck is wrong with me??". My house looks a lot like yours but I'm working on it too. I think organization is the key – everything has a place. Thanks again for your honesty.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sindy
    February 18, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Ah, Kristi, I do a modified Flylady. After I clean something up, I say to myself, "It doesn't have to be perfect; it looks better than it did; I did the best I could in the time I had with the tools that I had" or some variation on that. I am so tired of beating myself up about how everything isn't perfect and what I should/ought to be doing to make it so. I don't do spotless and PERFECT. I like things tidy and clean and pretty because it makes me feel peaceful and happy when I come home. "Good enough" does the job for me!

    Having said that (heheh), I don't always want too much reality therapy! When my room/s look good, I take a photo. Then when chaos takes over, I look at the photo and say, "I am only 15 minutes to an hour away from this" and go for it :).

    I wasn't planning on leaving a comment, but when you dangled that $100 gift card out there again, well, I couldn't resist!
    Blessings,
    Sindy

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Anonymous
    February 18, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    I use to have this problem. I was a single parent for 17 years. I often worked 10-12 hour days and lived in a very cluttered home. Then I met a man who is very routine. It's a natural tendency of his.

    I learned that my work commitments were not the problem — I was the problem. My mother was not a good housekeeper. It wasn't dirty it was just cluttered. I modeled her.

    Here are some tips that I learned from this man who is now my husband. I'd say I do them 90% of the time now. There is no such thing as 100%. So don't be too hard on yourself as you work to improve. Strive for a clutter free home not a perfect one.

    You may already do some of these things – I don't mean to be "too elementary". It's just focusing on some simple things that I found made all the difference.

    Make your bed every morning. Once you are doing this everyday then you can work on the kids to do the same. (if that applies). Be what you expect – first.

    Kitchen garbage. Use a bag in a can – not one on the floor. Take it out when it's full. A big bag on the floor is clutter too. While it's better in the bag then on the floor or counter it's not a strong enough limit. So say to yourself "In the can til full – then out the door".

    Put your dirty laundry in baskets not on the floor in the closet or the laundry room floor. Any improvement in using order and routine will breed the desire to do more. Just using baskets may be a big improvement – right? Believe me I know.

    Because laundry is such a time intensive task consider having it done for a month or so while you develop new routines in other areas. I did this for 7 years when I worked. The local laundromat would do it for $4.50 a basket. Nicely folded. It was wonderful. Probably more than $4.50 today, but it's something you may not have even considered.

    Buy some baskets to store a few common household things. You'll be amazed how it will help you develop similar storage solutions in other parts of the house when you are ready. Don't try to organize every closet and drawer throughout the house. Start small. E.g. A separate basket for each

    Light bulbs
    Batteries,flashlight, matches, small candles
    Tape/glue/staples/scissors/envelopes/book of stamps

    These are basic things that we often need or might need in an emergency. When you can get your hands on these simple things quickly — it reinforces the benefit of staying organized.

    And finally learn to purge. Get some big boxes from uhaul or your local grocery store. Go thru one room at a time. Don't try to do the whole house in one day or even a week. The goal is to learn to let go. Say to yourself – "when in doubt throw it out". Give the items to the goodwill or Google your local Veterans organization. They often pick up for free and they don't sell the stuff.

    Good luck. I'm sure you'll do great!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Rachel Cross
    February 18, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    I see a lot of recycle and organic stuff. I realize we have a one level 1300 sq ft house but we had to work to get our recyclables under control. In Robinson we don't have curbside recycle pick-up so we have to sort everything ourselves. So we put a plastics/boxes can next to the stove, a paper recycle in the office, two larger separate plastic and cardboard cans outside and a compost can next to the back door outside. The reason we have the large outside cans is because our inside combo can is pretty small. Using hot water to wash out and flatten milk jugs at the same time helps, and we also flatten cereal boxes. We realize we pay the same in garbage based on our water consumption regardless, but only 1/3 of our kitchen/office waste goes to the landfill. We even recycle toilet paper tubes. Once a month we load everything into the back of the truck (except for the compost) and take it to the recycle center near the HOT complex. I hope this sparks ideas for you.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Dana @ Bungalow'56
    February 18, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Check out FlyLady.net She has daily things to do to create the new habits.
    Good Luck.
    My house is looking pretty much the same right now, and I definitely suffer from CHAOS!
    Dana

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jessica
    February 19, 2011 at 7:19 am

    I also have found some of Flylady's tips useful:
    Set a timer for a few minutes at a time to tackle one task;
    take a 15-minute break once an hour if you're "crisis cleaning;"
    and, housework done wrong still blesses your family!

    Thank you for your honesty! I love the family sign.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Anonymous
    February 19, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Hello. I've come from Inspired Room, this is my first visit here. :-)Here is what I find helpful in keeping our place in relative order constantly (and I haven't really read all of the previous comments, so please forgive me if this is repeating smth. already said):

    First of all, make a list of all the cleaning activities necessary for the whole place to be/look clean (dusting the window sills, dusting the living-room, washing all windows, vacuuming all rooms, washing curtains, etc.). Then decide on the frequency with which each action should be performed. You would only wash the curtains once a …. (fill in), you would clean another area every day, you would vacuum once or twice a week or whatever… You get the idea. Then simply make some cards based on this info, with stuff to be done each day, once a week, once a month and so on. On the card corresponding to the day of the week, you write what needs to be done on that particular day, every week. For things that must be done once a week, you figure out which day seems to be less busy for you and then that's the day you assign for that activity. And so on. For things to be done once a month, you choose on which week in each month to do them. And instead of having this overwhelming mountain of things to do, for which you'd have to set aside at least a whole day for mega-cleaning, you have broken it all into small 'chewable' and doable bits. It works fine with chores for children as well, having a small thing to do each day to keep the room clean. For us this is really helpful. I hope it will at least give you an idea you can use. 🙂

    Brindusa

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jennifer M
    February 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Visiting today from the Inspired Room. It's so refreshing to read when a blogger is also a real person. 🙂 I read Julie Morgenstern's book: Organizing From the Inside Out. Very readable. Not preachy. And it has changed my world! I've loaned it out a couple of times, too and the results are fantastic! Worth buying, but you could check out your library first. Julie and Flylady are helping me to make my house peaceful, so I can play, too!

    Love your kitchen color, btw!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    hmweeks
    February 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    It's nice to see a blogger being painfully honest. Sometimes I spend too much time READING blogs and end up getting behind on keeping my home "clean enough" AND feeling worse because all the pictures on the blog are so picture perfect… speaking of which, it's DEFINITELY time to go clean up from breakfast=)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Anonymous
    February 19, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Flylady helped me quite a bit – that's where that C.H.A.O.S. acronym comes from! 🙂 Start somewhere and soon the cleanliness of that area will spread throughout your whole house. And, btw it really takes 30 days to solidify something as a habit.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    ~~Rhonda
    February 19, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Kristi, thanks for your honesty! Good for you! Here are a few things that help me hobble along…

    Don't put it down. Put it away.

    Never leave a drawer or cabinet door open.

    You can do anything for 15 minutes. ~FlyLady

    Mt. Vernonize it. – I think this is from one of Pam Young and Peggy Jones' books. This is the way Washington's Mt. Vernon home is cleaned. Pick a 12:00 point and move around the room, from 12 to 1 to 2, etc., until you get back to 12:00. I find this especially helpful when I am decluttering surfaces in a room. It keeps me on track. If I have to leave before I'm done, I know right where to start when I get back.

    I'll be watching your progress. 🙂 Now I'm heading off to clear my counters…you have inspired me…

    ~~Rhonda

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    thimblecottage
    February 20, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Kristi. I have one rule that I follow all the time .NEVER HANDLE THE SAME PIECE OF PAPER TWICE!!! Store it ! Trash it! File to pay. It will change clutter forever..Mary [email protected]

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Antiques
    February 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Hi Kristi,

    I think the simple solution to your dirty house may be a house cleaner. Everyone thinks they are so expensive but they are not. I have one come every two weeks and they clean my whole house for under 150.00. I love it. Just when I think I am going to CHAOS they come clean all the spaces I have missed between work, kids, pets, foster pets and a traveling husband who drops everything once he comes back from a trip. I can then relax again in my own house and more importantly I can continue to be pleasant to all those dwelling underneath its roof. Its wonderful and I recommend it for maintaining your sanity.

    I love your blog thank you for such interesting and entertaining reads.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Cassandra
    February 20, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Thank you for being honest. My kitchen looks like that too. And, I will be deep cleaning it soon! You have inspired and motivated me to track the progress of my home cleaning/decorating progress! Now, once it's clean and I have photographic proof, I will know that it is possible to have a clean house!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jamie
    February 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    One of the most helpful cleaning tips I know was picked up in my days as a caterer – "full hands in, full hands out". If I'm walking from one room to another anyway for any reason, I always look around to see if there's anything out of place that needs to go in the direction I'm headed and put it back where it belongs. It sounds silly, but it really saves time and helps keep things picked up!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Antiques
    April 10, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Hi Kristi,

    I think the simple solution to your dirty house may be a house cleaner. Everyone thinks they are so expensive but they are not. I have one come every two weeks and they clean my whole house for under 150.00. I love it. Just when I think I am going to CHAOS they come clean all the spaces I have missed between work, kids, pets, foster pets and a traveling husband who drops everything once he comes back from a trip. I can then relax again in my own house and more importantly I can continue to be pleasant to all those dwelling underneath its roof. Its wonderful and I recommend it for maintaining your sanity.

    I love your blog thank you for such interesting and entertaining reads.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    thimblecottage
    April 10, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Kristi. I have one rule that I follow all the time .NEVER HANDLE THE SAME PIECE OF PAPER TWICE!!! Store it ! Trash it! File to pay. It will change clutter forever..Mary [email protected]

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jennie
    April 10, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Dear Kristi,

    Oh how I know this feeling! I have tried flylady as well and she has many good things. For me it didn't start with the kitchen sink, it was my laundry that spilled out everywhere. I looked at my house at the main culprit and focused on that. My house is staying much cleaner now.

    Also, years ago I discovered a cleaning system called "Speed Cleaning" by Jeff Campbell. It claims to cut your cleaning time in half and it really does! I am not a perpetual cleaner, I can't be with 5 little kids (including new twins). I'd go crazy. But one day a week, I put the house back together and clean it. This system is so amazing!! It has really changed my cleaning life. And lowered my stress level.

    I just posted on my blog with before and afters and times. (Scroll past the gardening post) If you want to check it out *www.TheCouponBinder.blogspot.com. Also for Jeff's website http://www.TheCleanTeam.com.

    Good luck and thank you for all your posts. I check in everyday with you and love how real you are about everything!! Keep up the good work!

    loads of love,
    Jennie
    *p.s. I'm not trying to get anything from this. (My blog is not monetized) I have tried and failed at flylady for 9 years. This is the system finally worked for me.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Anonymous
    April 10, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Hello. I've come from Inspired Room, this is my first visit here. :-)Here is what I find helpful in keeping our place in relative order constantly (and I haven't really read all of the previous comments, so please forgive me if this is repeating smth. already said):

    First of all, make a list of all the cleaning activities necessary for the whole place to be/look clean (dusting the window sills, dusting the living-room, washing all windows, vacuuming all rooms, washing curtains, etc.). Then decide on the frequency with which each action should be performed. You would only wash the curtains once a …. (fill in), you would clean another area every day, you would vacuum once or twice a week or whatever… You get the idea. Then simply make some cards based on this info, with stuff to be done each day, once a week, once a month and so on. On the card corresponding to the day of the week, you write what needs to be done on that particular day, every week. For things that must be done once a week, you figure out which day seems to be less busy for you and then that's the day you assign for that activity. And so on. For things to be done once a month, you choose on which week in each month to do them. And instead of having this overwhelming mountain of things to do, for which you'd have to set aside at least a whole day for mega-cleaning, you have broken it all into small 'chewable' and doable bits. It works fine with chores for children as well, having a small thing to do each day to keep the room clean. For us this is really helpful. I hope it will at least give you an idea you can use. 🙂

    Brindusa

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Andrea
    September 4, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    I love you… I just met you, but I LOVE YOU man! (er woman) 🙂 Thank you posting that positively horrid pic (ha ha) of your unkempt kitchen… I love you for being honest- and HUMAN!!! YAY! Your projects are awesome (just found you- not sure how- I think through a pin on Pinterest?) Your site is truly inspirational. But the photo of your kitchen in disarray tickled me funny… Now back to your site to explore every corner. 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Laura
    December 15, 2011 at 5:36 am

    THANK YOU for posting this. I found your blog through a search for DIY tufted headboard- which I am starting on this weekend! I love your honesty in this post. It is so easy for us “normal” non-interior designer type people to feel so inadequate when we see design blogs. I loved seeing your kitchen messy. But honestly, I was just admiring your turquoise cabinets…I love turquoise. 🙂 Am going to subscribe to your blog right now!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    My (Latest) Outrageous DIY Procrastination Story
    January 10, 2012 at 9:46 am

    […] Two days ago, I was talking to Matt, lamenting about how I feel like I’ll just never be one of those people who (seemingly effortlessly) maintains a clean and organized home.  I mean, I’ve shown you how out of control things can get around here. […]

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