I’ve long wondered how Tidy House People do it.
Do they, like me, live in a rough state of disarray and then ten minutes before someone comes over, tear around the house and throw sh*t into cupboards, light scented candles, fan their hands furiously above the wick hoping the scent will carry, and pray no one uses the bathroom?
Do they, like me, use low-level lighting to disguise dirt, then liberally spray Glen 20 above the front door so that, on arrival, guests enter a clean-smelling house, and their brain is tricked into thinking clean thoughts?
No, they don’t. They’re better than me.
I want to be one of these people so I’ve enlisted some house rules and astonishingly, they’ve actually worked.
This isn’t a plan to be Monica-from-Friends level neurotic clean. I’m not quite at the level of using coasters under drinks, vacuuming the vacuum cleaner, and sweeping under guests feet as they try to “relax”.
Instead, these are rules to eliminate that low-level anxiety and the irritable feeling that things are unravelling. Where your house feels nice to come home to, not another thing to deal with on your to-do list.
These rules that are basic, simple to follow and become habitual. And because they are the “house” rules, and not one person’s cleaning standards over another, it eliminates fights. You just shrug your shoulders and say “well, they’re the rules”.
Before you know it, hopefully you’re one of them. A smug, tidy house, smug-face.
#1: Don’t have kids.
Lol jks. But, this is an important disclaimer. I don’t have any kids or the detritus that comes with them. If you DO have kids and you still have a tidy house, tell us your secrets in the comments below, because I don’t want this tidy house run to ever end.
Listen to the explainer on house rules here. Post continues after audio…
OK but seriously.
#2: Make your bed every morning.
Captain obvious, yes. We’ve all heard the saying “messy bed, messy head”, but research says it’s true. Making your bed not only make us happier and more productive, if your bed is made, you’re setting a tidy agenda for the day.
Productivity expert Charles Duhigg calls it a “keystone habit”, something that kick starts a pattern of other good behaviours. And if that wasn’t enough of a reason, Gretchen Rubin, happiness researcher says in her podcast that it’s the number one most impactful change that people can make. I say: it takes one minute. Do it.
#3: Don’t go to bed until your kitchen is clean.
This is another keystone habit that has a domino effect. You’re cleaning the kitchen. You have dirty dishes in the lounge room/dining room/bedroom because you ate in bed again and you think, ah, I’ll do them too.
The kitchen is often the hub of a home. Clean that and it will radiate out. Experts say it saves you time and improves your mood. I say, this is true. When I pass the kitchen and see it all clean and nice at night, I’m like:
#4: A place for everything, and everything in its place.
Everything in our house has a spot. If it doesn’t have a spot, it gets a spot. It gets put back in that spot. Which brings me to:
#5: The ‘One Minute’ rule.
This is another Gretchen Rubin special happiness trick. It’s simple and brilliant: any task that can be finished in one minute gets done straight away. Hang up your towel. Wipe down the bathroom sink. Pick your knickers up off the floor and throw them in your laundry basket. Put those catalogues in the recycle bin. Because these tasks are so small, if you keep them under control, it eliminates that nagging feeling. And it also frees up time in the long run.
#6 Touch things once.
Very similar to above, this is a great tip for paperwork and mail. Don’t shift things from spot to spot in the house. Pick up your mail, open it, deal with it then and there by paying it, filing it, or chucking it. Donezo.
#7: The less stuff you own the less stuff you have to tidy up.
Japanese tidiness expert Marie Kondo sold eight million books with this message. Have less stuff. Let the stuff you have serve a purpose. Get rid of the rest.
I used to think people with tidy houses were boring and had nothing better to do than clean, but it’s had the opposite effect. It makes me happier, and we don’t waste a whole day on a weekend cleaning up – so there’s more time for the good stuff. The good, clean stuff.
What are your house rules? Share them below.