A new stance on cleaning… one new thing.

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Front entry tour

This past week, I’ve been in a bit of a funk about the topic of cleaning.

A typical clean spree would have me focusing on one thing, then pushing hard until it’s done.

Here comes the issue though… a focus generally takes a whole lot longer than anticipated. Suddenly, your entire space has been ripped apart, turning a 10 minute tidy job into a week long event that requires a trip to the dump.

Not a bad thing. Until it becomes the ONLY thing you accomplish.

Hello eating out once again…

This is where I fall short. I have this zone mentality, where once I’m driven in one direction, it’s hard to switch gears, doing other needed things.

Sure, that one space gets knocked out, but then I lose my cats in the rubble, (picture one cat eye staring at you from underneath a pile of clean, unfolded laundry… it happens here) while the the entire rest of of the house jumps up and down, screaming for attention.

Thanks, one clean space. You’ve single handedly trashed the rest of my house…

A tad counter productive.

So… I’ve tried something new this past week. And I do see it somewhat effective.

One new thing a day.

I’ll (attempt to) keep up with the house daily, but then I’ll push for one tiny new thing to add to the day as well. 

ONE thing. That’s the key.

Gifting myself with new cutlery AND a clean drawer! Cleaning advice on funkyjunkinteriors.net

Gifting myself with something new post

It could be cleaning a drawer. Or getting rid of a pile of something. Or hanging up coats where they REALLY belong.

Thing is, keeping up with the rest of the house takes bigger priority. But it quickly loses lustre for me, because it feels like I’m just on repeat, doing the same things, not getting ahead.

Then I don’t want to do it any more.

And that’s when things really roll downhill.

The one new thing changes all that. You feel accomplishment BECAUSE it’s new. And as long as you are moving forward, that’s the goal. Albeit small.

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Living room tour

Yesterday, by the end of the day after tidying up, I was so done. I was ready to pour myself a glass of ginger-ale and park in front of the TV for a spell, but then PUSHED myself back up, reminding myself I needed to get that one new thing done first.

So I turned around and stared at an eyesore that has been begging for attention for MONTHS. A 3 tiered basket at the top of the stairs (collecting crap that needs to go downstairs but never does) finally got gutted AND put away.

Oh my goodness… the after effect is so worth it, isn’t it?!

 But here’s where cleaning gets tricky for me. I felt inclined to clean something else. I was officially ‘in the zone.’ So I chatted with myself before I drowned in tasks all night long… 

“Add one more thing, but then stop. You deserve some fun after a long day of tasks too. Don’t you DARE make yourself feel resentful here…”

I personally have to schedule in nice things to do. Can you relate? 

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Summer home tour

So I vacuumed the stairs, ended up washing them as well, (whoop!) then cleaned the front entry floor. We’ve had snow like crazy lately, so it really needed it.

But then I did stop.

It was 10:30 pm after all.

So I went upstairs, enjoyed a couple of shows, then woke up to those newly cleaned spaces, feeling accomplished and fulfilled that my evening wasn’t just filled with tasks.

messy office before
(In my defence, this was during tax time…)

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Whiter blog office tour

One new thing is a small thing, but it has made an impact on how I do and feel about things. I’ll never have that perfect Instagram house 24/7, but at least I could take photos of one corner by the end of each evening…

If I wasn’t busy watching a show or two. 🙂
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And in case you’re needing a little more before and after inspiration to get you started… these are DRASTIC.

The front entry GUT

From junk heap to pristine paint studio

Major mayhem to dream workshop
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Any tips to share on what helps motivate you to keep up?
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WhereW


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Categories: Blog Series, From Crap to Clean, Junk Drawer
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  1. First off, I have to tell you that the photos of the inside of your house are always so beautiful! The natural sunlight you get in your house is AMAZING! I know what you mean about cleaning and keeping rooms tidy. Whenever one major cleaning job needs to be done it does trash the rest of the house! Know that you are not alone – lol. Fun things need to happen – shows need to be watched – like the new season of Walking Dead last night (we got into it because my son was watching it and we wanted to spend more time with him and now we’re hooked). Give yourself permission to enjoy something every day, you deserve it!

    • Haha! Oh Sharon….

      My home is actually like a dark cave. I open the camera shutter WIDE open and photo edit like crazy so the photos look somewhat good for the blog. Certain times of day and certain rooms are nice and sunny, but many areas don’t ever get on the blog due to how dark they are. If I ever move, I want a glass house! haha

      Walking Dead… I got into that crazy show for the same reason you did. I refused to watch it for the first 2 seasons, but when my son begged me yet again during the 3rd, I finally sat down and was prepared to hate it. Well… the storyline caught me and I turn away to the stuff I still do hate, but yeah. We watch it too! We started at the beginning again on Netflix for my benefit. LOL

      Glad you agree… fun needs to happen during our busy lives so don’t deprive yourself! The mess will always be there tomorrow… 🙂

  2. Yea for you!! I’ve been making myself pick up after myself…. right then, or before I go to bed. Good Grief ~ I live by myself. It does feel so much better getting up or coming home to a picked up house. 🙂

    • SUCH a big difference if you can wake up to tidy surroundings! I actually assign myself a major cleanup hustle timeframe after dinner to pick up everywhere, so I can run the vacuum over the floors. But our late night snacking and what not is not helping the cause… haha

  3. I don’t know if this will motivate you but when I find something not in its right space, instead of saying okay I will put it away later. I put it away right then and there. As soon as I get out of bed in the morning, I make it immediately because it kind of sets the tone for the rest of the day. I load the dishwasher and run it every night. My husband unloads it in the morning and every time I have a dirty dish or cup or whatever I can put it in the dishwasher immediately. I also hang up my clothes immediately instead of putting them on a chair in the bedroom. These things really help me to have more time to clean up the cat hair and dog hair that is ALL over the house.

    • YES! I do try that too, but my issue becomes when I get locked into a project or task, that’s all I actually see! 🙂 I lose my peripheral vision when I’m ‘in the zone’. Something I started doing which was really enlightening was dump my purse after each shopping trip. If all those receipts get filed right away (for tax purposes) it’s so much easier to handle year end! Touching something just once really does make a huge impact on tidiness for certain!

    • Patty, do you run your dishwasher before you go to bed? The reason I ask is, I used to do that ~ turn it on right before I went to bed. Years ago I was reading a blog and their dishwasher caught on fire. Thank the Lord they all made it out safely. I never thought of a dishwasher catching on fire. After reading that, I make sure that I run it while I am up…. and it’s a good thing because one Sunday afternoon I had turned it on and went about cleaning the rest of the house and went back into the kitchen and stepped in water. 😮 If I had let it run all night while I was in bed ~ that would have been a disaster.

      • I’m the same way, Reenie. I never run a machine if I’m not there nor awake. Dishwasher, washer, dryer…

        I’ve had a toilet crack while in town one time, coming home to water running down the hallway! So I feel like I’m risking my home even with water in the tank at this point. haha

  4. Good morning Donna, my friend. I had to leave a few words after reading your post on cleaning up furiously, not at all or in small daily doses. I (met) you at a very low point in my life, laid off from a 19 year career I loved. I felt anchorless, worthless, purpose-less. I found a beautifully simple garden photo on line of someone’s yard who loves junk, beauty and home. I just knew I could recreate a similar scene in my yard and got out of bed and got to work, taking a lot of frustration and anger out on weeds and overgrown bushes in the front entryway. It has become my metaphor for a new life of peace and beauty (with a bit of junk). This is a long-overdue thank you Donna!

    Fast forward a few years and I am on a quest to learn how to maintain a peaceful, somewhat clean space for my family to enjoy. You put into words how I have always acted and felt about cleaning up. I love a big project and to heck with the rest of the place, meaning I am not going to open my home to friends and family. Or I put myself on a cleaning regime and I AM BORED and quit. I think you have hit the perfect balance in this post: some daily routine, some time on a project, and some time for fun. Yikes. I just turned 70 years old and I think I am going to learn how to live a balanced life, thank you again my friend. You are an encourager for all ages…

    • Oh Bev… I had questioned my own sanity writing this post. I thought… well, this stuff is just obvious. But when this little aha moment worked for me, I was hoping it would work for others that needed a little encouragement. Your comment alone made this worth it!

      My next post is going to be about how I segment my day for better productivity too. Bundle it all up, and it all helps!

      Thank you for your very kind and insightful comment. I’m so very glad something you saw triggered a change to help better your own life! It is NEVER too late to have a good one at that!

      • I think for those of us who have a personality that wants a big result, a wow!, everyday cleaning, tidying and cooking is just meh. 24 hours later and there is likely no evidence it was even done :/ A decluttered space, work in the garden, or time spent on a project give me a wow moment that I can look at over days and sometimes weeks and still feel the sense of peace, beauty and accomplishment. But when the routine tasks don’t get done, it is just chaos. Chaos. My latest attempt at a list of daily tasks isn’t working too well, I cannot wait to hear how you segment your time during the day. I can see how it would be crucial to a system that could someday become a habit! Thank you for having the courage to share your personal struggles, small and large, they are so encouraging. ps, Happy Valentines Sweet Donna!

  5. Loved your thought of one new cleaning job! I’ve just finished cleaning the silverware drawer which then led to dusting the floor?!@!*#! Wait a minute….I see what you mean! Ok-just ONE new thing each day, isn’t that right?

    • Haha! Well, if you have time for more, by all means keep going! My issue is I tend to give ALL my time to one task, which makes the rest of my home (and life) suffer. p.s. good for you on your pretty new silverware drawer… and dusted floor! 🙂

  6. Sunday-Dust
    Monday-Laundry and Floors
    Tuesday-bathrooms
    Wed.-appliances, sofas, windows (do about 5)
    Th.-Laundry and Floors
    Fri-bathrooms
    Saturday-deep clean on closet, cupboard, pantry, or fridge

    Every single night I don’t go to bed until kitchen is spotless and clutter in every room returned to original places.

    Works for me. This way I never have more than an hour to do in a day.

    • Sometimes I do that Kathy. And then when I come upon an item again…. and I realize that I haven’t used it in some time, I pitch it. 🙂

    • Kathy, the key for me to getting a room I actually love is to first gut it, then bring in only the things I want in there.

      It’s tough love, but it does work.

      Cleaning generally results in shuffling the same stuff around over and over again. But a GUT, then restock is completely different. You end up with a different set of eyes and a fresh take when you start all over again.

      Try room by room. Gut it, then move back only what you love. Things that can be good for other rooms get placed into a storage area of sorts so you can shop from it later.

      Maybe that’s the key too… if you like changing things, have a small storage area for this reason. Mine is way too big, but then I decorate for a living. But it quickly gets out of hand, so once a year I have to purge that too! haha

  7. My sentiments exactly. If it is just one thing, little as it may be, it can be a great boost for your spirit. At times I have to push myself to do that one little thing, but am surely glad afterward. Your way of using words to describe life and the way my mind thinks is cool. Thanks.

  8. Hi Donna

    I just *had* to let you know that I follow and LOVE your blogs! You have really inspired me; especially the Crap to Clean idea (yes, I’m a hoarder – don’t judge!). I have been using “Just enough, and nothing else” as my mantra as I do my spring cleaning. I have decided that if something is no longer useful and doesn’t bring me joy, it’s time to let go.

    So…I gave my daughter my set of 24 place settings (plus serving pieces) of Corelle since we all go to her house for holidays, and bought myself a new set of plates that make me smile. I’ve been looking at my silverware and wishing I could replace it, also, when I realized that I had forgotten about a real silver silverware set I’d picked up a few years ago on a yard sale as an investment. Why shouldn’t we use the real stuff all the time instead of “saving” it? I polished it all up today and wow! It’s so shiny!

    Anyway – I just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration and for all you do.

  9. I find if I make a list I do pretty well. The problem is my list gets very long sometimes and that overwhelms me and as you mentioned some of the smaller tasks turn into bigger projects and then I don’t get anything crossed off my list!