It seems to me that there are “truisms” about cleaning. Some of these I’ve discussed:
- Clutter is usually made of “stuff.”
- “Stuff” is frequently made up of pieces you can pick up with your hand.
- Hard surfaces are easier to clean than soft ones.
- The only way to get an area clean and keep it that way is to keep cleaning.
My new one is related to #4. That people who manage to get and keep areas clean don’t see cluttered or untidy as acceptable.
For someone in their 60s who’s trying to learn to live differently, that last piece is not easy. Even when I clean regularly, I just don’t have that muscle. I’m so used to mess and clutter that I often just don’t see it.
This creates an all-too familiar situation for me: that I clean/cull an area and within a week or so, it’s a mess again.
I noticed this because of yard work. I’ve been working on raking out the beds, specifically, the bulb bed. For weeks I’ve had piles of leaves in the yard. I’ve been pulling them up and taking them to the dump, when I can get to the dump, at a rate of about 8 bags a trip. The piles aren’t there forever, and I finally have one more trip and that’s it to finish picking up those leaves. (It will be 4 trips when I finish.)
I’ve restricted myself. I’ve been slowly, but surely cleaning out the leaves in the other areas, and piling the leaves into neat piles. If I keep it up, it will still be another month or so before I manage to clean up most of the yard. This is an acre and I’ve never done this before; we’ve lived here 20+ years. Lots of dried leaves!
My neighbor’s yard always looks neat. Both of them work on it, instead of one person. And, whatever yard work they do is entirely cleaned up, before they quit. It occurred to me that there are some reasons for this: they have more storage than I do (a garage and a basement) also, they ALWAYS clean up and put away whatever accumulated mess and tools before they quit.
Also, in this neighborhood, we almost all have wood piles. There’s a neighbor who has a wood-fired, exterior furnace, with large wood sheds, as you might imagine. His wood piles, even when it’s a grapple load, are rarely messy. The wood is almost always cut to size and stacked in the sheds. The neighbors with a garage and basement have a small pile of wood for power outages, it’s tidy. Us? We have the end of two cords in a pile in front of the porch — which just looks messy.
The difference is that the large pile and the mess is something we live with, and the others won’t, for whatever reason.
I’ve been pecking away at that pile, a log or two here or there. I’m very aware of my weakened elbow and the potential for permanent injury if I’m not careful. Otherwise, I would have tackled it long since . . . .
But my observations are what got me to item #5.
5. Keeping an area clean requires the attitude that a hodge podge isn’t visually acceptable.