Over the past few months, as I’ve gotten to the point where many areas of my home are under control more than they ever were pre-blog, I have started cleaning up and organizing areas that are particularly difficult. Areas where getting started is the hardest part.
Like the Laundry Room.
Or the playroom.
If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably noticed that my newest self-talk phrase is: “Do the Easy Stuff First!”
I thought I would put this concept into its own post so I can link back later for new readers.
I’m pretty sure that this is a “duh” concept for normal people. Most likely, they don’t have to repeat it to themselves over and over to keep from hyperventilating.
Not that I would know, since I’ve never been normal.
I’ve shared my steps for cleaning up a very messy house. Part of that process is not worrying about the areas which are out of sight and out of mind. But my heart desires that ultimately, this deslobification process will include the out-of-sight places, They are MY places, so they’re never truly out-of-my-mind.
I’m always one lost office supply away from tears of frustration over my inability to keep them under control.
Since my Slob Vision causes messes to be viewed as one big insurmountable problem instead of individual small problems, I sometimes get paralyzed before I even start. Which means I don’t start, and the problem gets worse.
So . . . . I do the Easy Stuff first.
I remove, or put back in place, the things that have a designated home somewhere else in the house (or even in that room . . . sometimes two feet away). Like dirty laundry that’s on the floor. Or a bicycle in the playroom. Or a life-jacket in the master bedroom. Or something else that probably only happens in my home.
I’m generally amazed at how much Easy Stuff there is in the disaster-zone I’m tackling.
Once I get the Easy Stuff out of there, the Hard Stuff isn’t any less hard, but it is less. Meaning the piles are smaller and my despair-level is lower. And the visual progress from removing the Easy Stuff spurs me on to tackle more.
Concepts like these that seem to be simple for others, but are life-changing for me, are why I have this blog. My tag-line is “Figuring Out Why I am this Way, and What I Can Do to Change” . . . and that’s what I’m doing. I’m figuring myself out.
I’m accepting that my slob-brain doesn’t see the easy stuff as easy stuff until I verbally tell it to. And I’m perfectly fine with verbally telling it, if that’s what I need to do to get this mess cleaned up.
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Thanks for your blog! I found it the day I had to enter bills into my ledger with a crayon because I could not find any of our pens in the clutter. You have inspired me to keep trying to get it all under control!
I thought I was the only person that used what ever I can find to write with.
Thank you Liz for helping with how overwhelmed I feel at times.
Micky Gastmeyer says
My “go to” when someone calls and I need to take a message…..a paper plate and a crayon.
Nony the Slob says
Oh my word, Liz, I laughed so loudly when I read your comment! So totally a thing I would have to do!!!
[email protected] says
The trouble with me seems to be that ends up being all that I get done! By the time I’ve done “Easy Stuff” a few days in a row the first place (say, the kitchen) has gotten all messede up again. I never do clear off my computer tables.
Exactly my problem too. *sigh*
Amy J. says
I’m so there too – you should check out her book though, cause she actually addresses and walks you through that. I’ve listened through the book once – my goal now is to start from the beginning and actually *work* through it instead of just listening :p. Dana really brings me hope in the midst of clutter despair.
Exactly my problem too!
This is amazing. Grateful I ran across your blog. I am very A.D.D. that is combined with O.C.D. The combo is just awful. My friends have the most origanized homes. It’s makes me feel I just really suck, as a human.
The feeling paralyzed i felt and feel it when I look at my place and realize I have no one else to blame except myself. Then I become very depressed and retreat to my bed. My sheets are changed weekly and that’s where I end up.
Thank you for your blog! It’s one that has help me so much.
Your comment so accurately describes my life and my discouragement that comes along with seeing the mess and accepting that it’s mine. Then I had to scroll back up and check cause I thAt I had actually written it!!! Anyway, I start avoiding everything and everyone and feel sorry for myself!
I’m right there with you honey! I, too, have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD & OCD. I’ve done a little reading about the adult ADD/ADHD mind & discovered (thank the Lord!), that I’m NOT necessarily as messed up in the head as I thought I was! Our brains are literally wired differently, therefore, we have to APPROACH things differently.
I’ve felt so much anxiety, criticism & a feeling of ‘less-than’ for SO many years. My husband, who can get very angry & condescending at times, has no interest in learning anything about ADD/ADHD or OCD. He just thinks it’s an excuse & that I’m lazy. He’s actually told me that I needed to go to a doctor to “fix my brain”. The frustrating thing is, I am busy ALL DAY LONG but can’t seem to tackle 2 spare bedrooms, one of which I refer to as my ‘garage’. Hubby has a GIANT garage & I am ‘not allowed’ to put ANYTHING in it (it’s the only garage we have). I decided a few months ago that his words do not define me! I do the best I can do, & God accepts me just the way I am. I am determined that with His help & guidance, I CAN do all things! In my neverending search for answers, I stumbled upon this blog today, & for the FIRST time in….forever, I sense a glimmer of hope! I personally believe Good answered my prayers & led me here 🙂
Amen! Yes you can do all things in Christ. He loves each of us and our “different” brains. We’re all in this together. I’ve been following Dana for over a year now & she’s so much like me in some ways, it’s scary. Lol She’s a breath of fresh air & she keeps it real. She makes me laugh sometimes because I can picture myself doing our saying the same things.
Tell your hubby to build you your own garage if he doesn’t want anything in “his” garage or your spare room.
Allison Schmidt says
Dana , wow!! I need you and all the members here!! I am a retired RN and have had to apply for disability due to severe traumatic brain injury 25 years ago.. things catch up as we age. I am 55 now.. Anyway I dont know what to do!! My 22 year old son special needs Aspergers and Bopolar. Lives with me..getting him help and making sure he is ok is a full time job. But he is not handicapped and I resent so much that he is a slob lazy and acts entitled. The truth is 22 physically emotionally 16!!
He is killing me though. So messy and never helps. I broke my foot 3 months ago ..and I cant do the physical things i need to… This didnt happen overnight ..i know this and my friends have helped me before. but the criticism regarding “it’s time to adult” just crushed me!! I am intelligent and a compassionate person. I would never hurt someone on purpose. That’s not me..However, I do speak my mind when i feel strongly about it!! My story is crazy. I am the only survivor if the South Side serial killer in Richmond Va and DC!! I was his first victim but got away after being trapped in my apt for hrs. I was 23 ..I’m 55 now. Bad things happen to people every day. But that’s just an event that’s not who I am. The attack left me brain damaged. But praise God I survived. .. But my foolish pride is killing me..I need to do this. I’m just so overwhelmed anxious and sad. I see no way out of the put of control disgusting mess in my home. Is there a service where people will come one and help me?? Not a hoarder service but cleaning service? Thank you for listening to me. I am encouraged and excited to see what I can learn.
Totally understand. I actually did that this morning when I bagged up a bunch of recycling in my kitchen and just got it down to the garage. Not 100% taken care of yet (still need to take it all to the recycling center), but it is no longer overwhelming me when I see my kitchen. Doing the easy stuff first works.
I just wanted to say that I think you have come a long way! Your blog (and your attitude to becoming less of a slob) are inspirational! I think we are very harsh on ourselves and have such high expectations. One of my favourite quotes is 'we can have it all – but not all at the same time!
This is so true! I was getting really discouraged with the state of our bathroom, but after putting all the dirty laundry in the hamper (instead of on the floor) the rest of the room seemed immediately better, and easier to clean.
I love reading all your tips to make a household WORK. you're not going for perfect, just for what works for you. Thanks!
Thanks for the reminder and I just thought I'd let you know that I out it into practice this morning. I just kept thinking, if I get this out of the way it will look a little better.
Thanks for linking up at Works for Me Wednesday. We're moving in two months, so de-cluttering and organizing are on my mind. Your blog is quite motivating and encouraging, just what I need!
Megan at declutterdaily says
Don't be so hard on yuurself. I think it's hard for everyone to find the tape now and then (or every time I look for it). One time I just went to the dollar store and bought like 7 pairs of scissors, I got so sick of it. Kids multiply the chaos by like ten-milloin too.
Life Jacket in the bedroom, ha. I know that feeling.
Megan at declutterdaily says
yuurself. Gah! Perhaps I won't be so mysuulf either! Oh and miioin! Dear Lord, I should proof..
I LOVE your blog! I can relate and am trying once again to get my house in order. It always helps when I have company and do the "panic clean", then I always hope that I can keep the parts of the house that are clean, clean and work on the rest of the house, but by the time I have company again, I'm starting over. Agh! Anyway, your post of Mondays being the most important day of the wk totally struck home w/ me this wk. I was out running errands and didn't get the housework done and wow, but a difference (not in a good way). Now my Mondays are housework days. It never struck me how important that day is until you posted that and it 'clicked'. Thank-you!
OMG! I do the “company panic clean” at least once a week! While my company sits on my couch and I run around my house like a nutter to get it at least company-worthy! LOL! Thought I was the only one!
Vivian Garner says
Haha.. I too “company panic clean”, but before they walk in the door, then I’m like, “oh well. It is what it is.” Reading all these comments from women just like me, makes me smile, laugh, and accept myself. And now I will tackle the easy stuff. Thanks for sharing ladies. 🙂
I was like that once make them wait while i tidy up, now i just pretend im not home and while the door bells ringing & my dogs are barking and my hearts trying to beat out my chest ill contemplate why the bloody hell i didnt just clean up the mess, and then ill vow this will never happen again but some how it always does.
I am not alone? I feel so less…crazy. I always tell my mom…if i could just have this done or that then I can get it all done. And them bam, who in the world put all this stuff on the table, couch…
Really enjoy your ideas, I’m 61 used to be so clean kids and friends and their parents, now IT seems always doing or going somewhere. My biggest clutter is I love beadwork, sewing, painting, crochet, glueing , reading,
Mommie Daze says
We have a huge mess in our basement to clean up and organize. I will definitely be tackling the easy stuff first.
One theory behind the "I don't know where to start" problem is that those with the problem are actually perfectionists. They become paralyzed by the fear of failing, and so find it pointless to begin. I was this way with any kind of big project in school. For whatever reason, I was convinced I just couldn't do it. I always got good grades in the end, but only after the stress of leaving the project until the last minute, then rushing and even staying up all night to finish it in time. I think tackling messes in our homes can be like that. The mess just looks too large to be handled. Breaking an impossible task down into smaller pieces is the only way to get over those fears and accomplish the goal! I like The Fly Lady's saying – "I can do anything for 15 minutes!". There are a lot of things I CAN'T do for 15 minutes, but as far as housework is concerned, it's true!
Your comment explains me. All my life I have put off finishing prijects, afraid it wont be perfect in the end.
Sorry, my 8 month old grabbed the smart phone.
I was told that once as well. My fear is that I was just lazy. But then i get so nit picky when i get into the groove of cleaning. I will worry about the small things instead of just getting the easy quick jobs done.
Danielle H says
Then to make things worse, when we paralyzed perfectionists finally do bite the bullet, it takes forever to clean bc we are so detailed. Frankly after spending hours and days scrubbing things with a tooth brush I don’t want to have to do it again anytime soon. I know maintenance cleaning is very important but it’s getting it through my head that it will cut down on the marathon cleaning binges that’s hard to do.
And those private messy area always spill out into the rest of my house. And it clutters my brain as well!! Anyone else feel the same way?
Tammy A says
YES! I feel the same way. I thought I was lazy, too. I get sidetracked with the cleaning and wanting to get out that toothbrush to work, when I should just get out a broom and mop, be done for now, and move on to get it all clean. It may not be deep-cleaning clean, but at least everything is presentable instead of that one area I spent hours cleaning! Then I can tackle the deep cleaning things later.
Simone Wolfe says
And throw ADD on top of that then you are cleaning in multiple rooms with nothing getting done and time has run out as well, then you don’t have time to get back to what you were working on to start with, well, what WERE you working on to start with????!!!!
UGH! Time is my enemy!!!!!!!!
Danielle! I thought I was the only one!!!!
Absolutely! I have been told for years that I make things harder than they have to be. For instance, I can’t shove things back in drawers that need to be wiped out. Yet, I let clutter pile up beyond “a bit messy”. It really seemed to rocket when I had my second child and was still working full time. I was diagnosed with ADHD last year when anxiety started to rule my world and I had sunk into depression. Now I know the feeling of “overwhelm” to it’s very core. My husband did not take well to my state and I left over a year ago. Sad to say, I still have not been able to get this place into shape. That’s why I am here. I HAVE TO make this a bit more liveable space. Nony’s Podcasts are killing me. If she isn’t rolling with the ADHD wave…. I used to put a harness on it and ride but…. 😉
OH, I forgot to say. When I do finally tackle cleaning, I think I must have some OCD tendencies. So then I only get half way through the job. “If I am going to do it. I have to do it right!?” I was re-organizing closet to put new steralite with drawers in. Well I just had to shampoo the spots on the rug, then they had to dry. So one week later, that thing of drawers sits and with boxed Christmas decore, there is a winding path to get to the living room. (I got off on the ADHD thing, a tangent, go figure.) I get so frustrated!!!
Vivian Garner says
I completely understand this! I have a million projects started. Well at least thousands. UGH I wish I could be a purger but I am way too sentimental.
I completely understand your comment about, how can I put the clothes back in the drawers when the doors need to be wiped out? That is my biggest flaw regards of cleaning… and I don’t really understand why other people are okay with stuffing sings Back in the drawers or cabinets when they’ve not like them out. So instead of just doing it the right way or the wrong way, and I’m not doing it at all. I do have an attention /focus issue and I get my own way every single day. I’ve never heard anyone else explain the drawer example…you said it so precisely… as it applies to me as well!
I so agree
After realizing I hadn’t vacuumed all of my bedroom in almost 3 years, then having a typical panic attack immediately after, I did deep quiet breathing then figured I could find help online. When I read what you said about perfectionists and fear of failure, I kept saying “wow” over and over as I continued to read. I am so much that perfectionist. I too waited for the last minute with anything large or important for school. Thank goodness I was (am?) smart enough that studying was not always necessary to make good grades. In Junior HS my Art teacher, Mr Carlin, submitted not one but two of my paintings for consideration to be exhibited at the Lever House in Manhattan. Both were accepted. When I asked my father if we could go see the exhibition his answer was that it was too big of a pain to get there. (We lived in Queens, 5 blocks from the El.) I could have gone alone. I had been taking public transport since I was 10. My spirit was crushed though. Why bother, I thought. Without making this a complete therapy session, suffice it to say fear of failure is not the only message my conscious and subconscious hear, but its a kind of double whammy. Yes..fear of doing it well enough, then having someone criticize (WHO? I live alone. My friends have moved or died. Rico couldn’t care less if I never shaved my legs again. Rico is my dog) So my dearest new BEST FRIEND(S) ~~~ I thank God for finding you. I actually have butterfly’s in my tummy thinking I’ll have a beautiful house again. And also realize I’m not alone! BTW!!! WHY is it that woman are supposed to be good housekeepers naturally? That is not part of our DNA aside from those two weeks of what’s called “nesting”. You know, just prior to giving birth you feel compelled to clean? I’d be interested if that as well doesn’t occur with (how many?) women. Again. A heart felt thanks.. :))
I felt exactly the same way when I found Nony. She is so wonderful!!
I live alone too. You can do it!
I never had the nesting urge. Only one pregnancy, but went into my 42nd week. I get sidetracked easy. And when I’m in a cleaning groove my 8yr wants to constantly bug me to come see stuff or do stuff. Ugh
I loved your comment and all you shared!!! Are you still around?? I know it’s beem a few years since you posted, but let’s be friends!
That is so true! I look around and see that I don’t have time to make everything perfect, so I don’t start.
I always just start on one corner of a room. I have to work from one corner to the next – so at least something is clean so it motivates me to keep on going. I feel succesful that way. Once I finish one room I normally want to keep on going.
SAHMmy Says says
Love the Easy Stuff First idea! And I'm enjoying reading through your back posts–entertaining and inspirational!
Nony the Slob says
Kelley Wilson says
I hope you don’t mind I featured your blog with a link back in a post on Spring Cleaning, feel free to grab a feature button if you wish and I love your blog, I wish I could get my husband to convert
I love it! Thanks, Kelley!
I’m so happy to find your site. As a married mom of two kids I’m not sure if I can really get a handle on maintains a clean house. I have a 7 and a 2 yrs old with down syndrome. Also my husband has chronic back pain that limits how much he can help – especially with my son b/c he can’t do muc lifting. We just had to have our home treated yesterday for bedbugs. I’m so embarrassed and devastated. But one good thing is that I forced me to take off work to empty the closets and clear out the clutter. Staying organized has never been my strength, but with so much on my plate it feels Impossible…
Bless your heart Michelle ♥️ Sometimes I feel like its impossible too! Id love to be able to hire somebody to clean the whole house good once, then id have an easier time keeping up with it. Husbands and kids are messy! If i just had MY stuff it would be so much easier.
OMG – I feel so much better about myself! THANK YOU. I feel completely out of control when it comes to the house (in tears because I can’t find anything; have three of one item because it was easier to buy it than find it, etc.) – and it’s just me, hubby and a seven-year-old! I used to be a neat freak but it went straight to hades once I got married and wasn’t living alone anymore… I also read “How to Clean a Very Messy House” and kept nodding – that’s me wanting to re-decorate the entire house a week and a half before a three-hour party! I will be starting with the easy stuff first, and probably doing some cheating, but you’ve given me hope. Bless you!
Well I’m the new kid here and I have found everything about Nony’s site amazing! I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who is needs help in this area. I do have a question, I hope someone will have an answer or point me in the right direction. In my pea brain I’m ready to tackle the mess but I have no energy. I don’t know if I am truly tired or overwhelmed. I have been to the dr. and my health is great. I’ve purchased a ton of cleaning items that I now need storage for them! So…how does one find the energy to dive in & not feel so lost? My day begins at 4am and by the time I get home from work its 4:30pm. I’m not complaining about my hours since I’ve been on this schedule for almost 20 yrs. I know if I keep reading, I should probably come across an answer here. Thanks for your recommendations, advice and just putting yourself out there!
I do understand how hard it is to even think about tackling the mess when you’re exhausted. I can only share my personal experience and say that there truly is a momentum that builds with decluttering. So don’t think about the whole overwhelming project. Just do a tiny bit if that’s all you can do. Starting with the easy stuff, of course. Even if it’s one or two easy things, I really think you’ll be amazed and energized by the impact and encouraged to do another easy thing.
Wow! You are me and I am you!! LOL It’s so refreshing to actually see a blog that I can totally relate to. I plan to read your journey from the beginning to now. Thank you for being so honest, it’s nice to know that I’m not alone.
You’re definitely not alone! I’m always amazed at how many people relate to my struggles!
I just found your website on Pinterest yesterday and I have been reading it every chance I get! I love your ideas and your humor! I have read several comments made by your readers and would just like to say, IF you are really lacking the energy to get started, or feel totally overwhelmed by daily tasks, Please see your doctor!! You may be suffering from DEPRESSION, Fibromyalgia, or some other ailment! Sometimes we are not really a slob, sometimes, one of these aliments kicks in and we just don’t have the energy to start! I used to be a perfectionist and my house was in order when my 4 kids were little, I used to even have time to do counted cross stitch! Now, it’s just my husband and myself and I can hardly keep the clothes washed, dried and put away! My day starts at 4 am also and I work 26 miles away until 6 pm. By the time I get home and have supper, I’m ready for bed! Now, with the correct combination of medication, I do have more energy and can stay focused a bit longer to accomplish some of my daily tasks! I hadn’t seen anyone say anything about a health problem so I wanted to let you all know that maybe there is a health reason for the “no energy”, and the “overwhelmed” feeling. Ok ,now I have to get busy and clean the bedroom! Thanks for letting me share!
Yes, energy is definitely an issue! Thanks for sharing, and I’m glad you found me!
SO TRUE!! I have hypothyroidism and it causes extreme fatigue and brain fog. My house is embarrassingly messy and I’m so tired and confused most days it’s hard enough just trying to get dinner cooked. Nony is an inspiration though- on the good days I follow your advice!
Danielle H says
Good point. I have pernicious anemia and very low energy because of it. If lack of energy is chronic and not because of a crazy schedule then definitely get a check up!
hi! I’m new to your blog! love the tip to go after the easy stuff first… what a simple idea with great impact in a room! I am going to try this immediately in my bedroom that has piles of stuff.
one book I found extremely helpful – as in my thoughts go back to this book’s advice a year after I checked it out from the library – is a book with organizing ideas for people with ADHD. I do not have it BUT the principles apply to my messy-oriented brain…
for instance, the book really helped with my kitchen. I had cupboards where there were plates with bowls stacked on top of the plates, for example. The book recommends having only one type of item on the shelf… that if you have to move one thing to get to what you want, you won’t reach for it. and it’ll make putting dishes away a step more challenging.
I’ve applied those ideas from the book in my home kitchen and in the kitchen at work. it’s simplified everything. the book is: http://www.amazon.com/Organizing-Solutions-People–Revised-Updated/dp/1592335128/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358035547&sr=1-1&keywords=organizing+solutions+for+people+with+attention+deficit+disorder by Susan Pinsky. makes things simpler at home so it’s easier to put things away. (my problem areas now are when things don’t have a home).
Ann B says
sunny, I wonder if this concept is where Dana came up with the idea to put storage containers away with the lids on, instead of stacking.
Wherever it came from, it works.
Now I realize I’ve only done it with one style of container (Snap-lock). The Tupperware needs the same method applied.
You are a Queen! Where have you been all my life! I need your wisdom everyday I am subscribing!
hey.. I just wanted to say that we fight this all of the time at our house. My husband is a slob and I have a medical that causes me to be exhausted all of the time. hat said.. I have three pieces of advise for you and those trying to fight their way out…
1) never have empty hands. When you go to get a soda… look around for something that doesn’t belong in the room that you’re in and carry it back into the kitchen with you. if you go to the restroom, look around.. do you have a hair tie that you took out lying on the table next to you? Nail polish bottles, anything that can go.. if not… is there something that can go to your room which is just one room past the bathroom? This helps me a ton because it does NOT FEEL like cleaning… you are just getting a soda.
2) Dedicate half an hour a day to one area (any area) and clean your tuckus off and THEN WALK AWAY. Do not feel guilty about not cleaning more. Let it go and have a good time reading or watching tv. You will be amazed at how much you can get done and how it will add up over time.
3) Organize things in a way that will work for YOU! It doesn’t help to have a lovely place for your books if you know that you WILL NOT walk all of the way to the other end of the house to put them away when you are tired. When you take off your “not ready for the laundry” clothes , don’t toss them in a pile or put them on your dresser… MAKE A PLACE FOR THEM that works with your room but also keeps them from being out on view. Any sort of storage that works for your life, but hidden and organized. A basket, a trunk, even empty a drawer in your dresser just for them. If you have a tendency to dump armloads of stuff when you come in your door, make the sorting station THERE at the door. A basket for mail and receipts, a place to hang your purse/coat/shoe cubby.
You know you, figure out what works best for your family’s life and arrange your house to fit your family. Make things easy. If you use something in two different rooms, make a place for it to live in both rooms so that you don’t have to leave it on your nightstand cause you aren’t gonna get outta bed and take it back. Keep things that you use as the same time in the same area. If you use plastic wrap to make lunches, keep it with the lunch stuff so that you don’t have to drag it to the other side of the kitchen… cause you know you won’t and it’ll sit on the counter and drive you crazy. I know you wanna keep it with the other wrapping products, but that doesn’t work for YOU so don’t do it! Make up your own rules 🙂
Janice G Travis says
You sound like me. Can we be friends if not OK.☺
My husband is very ill and on hospice, and I needed a secondary place to crash on the bad nights when he’s tossing, turning, and moaning in pain in his sleep. Unfortunately, every other “bedroom” in the house has become basically glorified storage rooms over the years, and are unusable. My friend (bless her) volunteered to help me clean out and set up one of the bedrooms. Since desperate times call for desperate measures, I forced myself to swallow my pride and get over my embarrassment, and let her help me. Seeing that merely entering the bedroom/storage area had placed me in a sort of panicked fugue, however, my friend asked me if she could take charge, and I gratefully agreed.
The first thing she had us do was literally STRIP THE BEDROOM of everything but the furniture – don’t look at it, don’t fret about it, just get it OUT. We threw the clothing that was piled on the bed into the laundry room, and lined up the rest of the junk along the hallway wall and into the living room. That took less than half an hour, and had the immediate effect of giving me a huge sense of accomplishment, because the place now looked like a completely clean BEDROOM!!! Wow!! We promptly dressed the previously “naked” bed with linens, making it instantly usable for me, and then we migrated into the hallway to deal with the junk. (I think it was brilliant of her to put everything in the hallway, because that way I was forced to deal with it right then rather than shove it into another room so that I could “look thru it later” . . . when of course “later” means “never” in real life.)
One thing I learned about having a non-judgmental friend going thru your stuff is that it’s much easier to decide what to do with it. All she was interested in was where to put something, not in what it was or why you’d want to keep a strange thing like that (the 200 year old cannonball I use as a doorstop did get some questions, though). And for some reason that just-get-it-done attitude enabled me to look at the stuff with new, more impersonal eyes. I was able to more easily identify items to trash, and chucked them immediately. And with a minimal amount of discussion, we determined where the rest of the items should go (some returned to the bedroom, some got stored neatly in clear organizing boxes in the bedroom closet, and some migrated to the basement).
Altogether, it took less than 3 hours for us to turn my embarrassing junk room into a wonderfully tidy spare bedroom. So, the lessons I took away were:
1. Get everything OUT of the area you’re decluttering so that you have a clean slate to work with.
2. If you can, enlist the help of a NON-JUDGMENTAL friend whose presence can jump-start you and clarify your purpose.
And if I get some time this weekend, maybe I’ll use these lessons on one of my other “junk” rooms!
Danielle H says
I am so sorry about your husband. That alone must be debilitating. I am glad that your friend was willing to come an be,on you through the hard part of emptying and purging stuff. It must feel like a breath of fresh air to have even one space for yourself that is calm and peacefully uncluttered!!
I can relate to the later=never in real life!! So many things I have put off for later (when things are perfect I guess) and now my kids are nearly grown and when I see the projects and craft boxes for “later” I feel sad that my whole adult life has been “later”.
God bless you and keep you on this difficult journey. <3
Danielle H says
(Clarification: bless and keep you. Not keep you on a difficult journey. But keep you safe, in His peace, etc. I retread that and thought oh my! I sound like a sadist! =P)
AWESOME SHARE! Happy for you!
I was always somewhat OCD until being married to a slob and having children that are slobs. After years of trying to keep things in order I felt like every thing I done daily were done in vain so I somewhat thru my hands up and surrender. After a couple years of this mentalityand this house I can not stand I am fixing to start back tackling this mess. Thank you for your blog. I feel so helpless and you have inspired me.
I’m struggling again but I could bribe myself to clean using these mind tricks.
1) make a slow cooker meal b/c the aroma would make want to create an enticing environment.
2) plan some clothes shopping. When I finished.
3) Invite friends to insure the timing.
I did the inviting friends over too. Even one friend to just come and take a look before and then after. Giving myself a 2, 3 or 4 hour deadline.
Part of my difficulty in putting all my toys away is that I can’t figure out where they should go. I must clean up my kitchen tonight because the plumber is coming to fix a leak and install a new faucet. I emptied everything from under the sink so he’d have space. But I don’t want all of it to go back when he’s gone. I tossed lots of old junk: furniture polish, extra ant spray, ugly flower vases. As for the stuff I need to keep, I am not sure where their final homes should be. Where do you store the QVC/HSN boxes for 30 days until you decide if you are keeping or returning? I have 3 boxes in the kitchen. Where do my special grass clippings bags for the patio leaves go? Garage is downstairs and too far away. I have plantation shutter and bamboo shade samples stacked until I make a decision on which to order. Where do I store those? I have 30 scented candles that I found in a bag in my bedroom closet. Love them. But don’t know where they should be stored. They are on the kitchen counter. My refrigerator top is where all the cats’ dry food bags are. They can’t eat holes in the bags and only I can reach them. But that’s not ideal. I have a new spin mop and bucket. It’s clean but sitting on the counter, too. Where does it go? Where does it even fit? These little decisions hold up my progress.
I always put empty boxes in the same spare closet with a reciept, anywhere it will fit so long as you remember where you store them. How big are grass clipping bags? My husband has a lot of small electronic part/adapter bags and when he could never find the one he was looking for we finally took some dollar store sticky hooks and hung them all on the back of his office door. Some people swear by the shoe organisers for small things..they make mesh ones that you can see through. I bought a narrow trash can with a lid to use for cat food. They cant get into it and it was cheaper than buying a “real” cat food bin from the pet store.
We use an old laundry bucket for our cat food. Since it has lasted for years, it must be fairly sturdy.
I just found your blog! I love this! I feel like I am one of the girls here. lol Thanks for making me feel a little less insane! Great tips!
Dana White says
“Do the easy stuff first.” So simple yet so powerful.
The other day I was looking at a pile and wondering where to start when all of a sudden your words popped into my mind. Yup, do the easy stuff first was the perfect phrase for me to get moving. Thanks for writing this blog and I look forward to many more entries.
Mary E. Nicholson says
Do you ever look around and realize that all the clutter IS NOT ALL YOURS!!!!! Some of it belongs to you husband and children!!! When I stopped blaming myself for all the clutter, I felt a teeny, tiny bit better!!!! Mary
Connie Viola says
Yes! But then it also makes me even more tired thinking about cleaning it up since it is not my mess. But I am glad to know others live with messy husbands as well. I am not alone 🙂
Hello, this is my first time to speak my mind on your blog because I just found you yesterday and I’ve been reading the 2009 posts. However I was checking my facebook and this post came in my news feed just a minute ago and the title intrigued me. My craft room is so bad I can’t get in there to finish any projects! Start with the easy stuff first? Im thinking maybe that would be throwing away the scraps of paper and fabric all over the floor, oh its just so overwhelming.
I did however do my dishes, wipe the counter and sweep the floor in my kitchen tonight!
Thanks for keeping this blog going. Its awesome.
Must start easy…(but fast)… Have company coming in 3 days and you can’t even walk in the spare room or even see the bed. Our home has very very small closets so the spare room turned into my closet and the storage room turned into my craft room that needs more storage!
Yikes! Feeling overwhelmed already. I’ve always felt guilty for those things that build up on the counters and tables and everywhere because my husband always says I’m a clutterer… But really I’m the organizer… On a break apparently.
I don’t know how to find homes for everything… Even though I constantly read every decluttering article I can … I use recycled containers to put products in and so I’m having trouble figuring out where and how to store those wonderfully recycled containers that I just MUST use!!!
Whew… Ok… Off my soap box … It is that a supplies box…wait.. I can use that for something. Ugh.
Easy stuff…easy stuff. Thanks for sharing.
Dana White says
Maybe this post would help in your three-days-to-doorbell situation: http://www.aslobcomesclean.com/2010/11/how-to-clean-messy-house-and-get-it/
I just wanted to say your site came along on the perfect day. Some days I feel so overwhelmed with stuff to do. I used to work a full time job and manage all the household chores. Now i am a stay at home Mom and honestly, i dont know how i did it. I must have been comletely out of my mind because i am a clean, and clutter freak. Im learning how to look at it, and not let it get to me, but i can only do that for so long.
Thanks for your inspiration.
Dana White says
I’m so glad you found me! Welcome, Robyn!
I am so excited to have found your blog, that you may have no idea how excited. As I read your story I had to remind myself I was reading someone else’s story. I have always been known to be a “pack rat” or “hoarder” but not extreme like the shows. When I got married my husband and I realized how much we have “saved for just in case” now we had twice as much “stuff” that we didn’t know what to do with but thought one day we would need it. In the last few years I have had bouts of get rid of as much stuff as possible but still had a mess. There are many times when I skip a day of cleaning and the next I think I need another day to not clean since it isn’t that bad, then the next day we have a play date or I have errands that need to be tended to. It has the snowball effect and it grows bigger and bigger until one day I wake up and realize the house is in complete and udder chaos. When I start to clean up the chaos I feel as if just looking at it my energy gets sucked into the piles and all the clutter that I just can’t do it. On the days I think to myself I need to get a handle on this but have no idea how to start or where to start first. I have searched for answers on blogs or self help books but I go to my old tendencies of oh I will gather a lot of information and then tomorrow I will go over them and start then. I get so overwhelmed with all the information that I find that I shut down and decide to wait til “tomorrow”. Because isn’t “tomorrow” always better? But now I am really mentally ready, I don’t have to look at several blogs because I found someone that was just like how I feel. I know that God does not want this life for me that he has something so much better in mind for me. Anyways, thank you for your inspiration and for creating this blog.
Dana White says
Thank you for this comment, Amber!
Oh my goodness! I love this! You put words to something I’m learning. I struggle with decluttering, but I really really really want a house that is easy to keep picked up and clean. I finally decided it was okay to just find *one* thing that I knew was trash in whatever area was bugging me most. Or if I think of an item that I know I could do without, then it is absolutely terrifically fine to go get that item, even if I’m not going to declutter the whole area that it is in. It may take me awhile, but eventually, my house will be at least a little less cluttered. It has taken me a long time to allow myself to be okay with doing just one easy thing at a time! Progress is progress though!
Love the article. Sometimes it’s hard to see “the individual trees for the forest”. I have two suggestions where the opposite might be true though. The dishes and the laundry. When my laundry piles up, sometimes I notice its mid-summer and I’ve got heavy winter blankets that are still in the pile because they’re not necessary for everyday; they’re never a priority. I now make out-of-season things, bulky things, and towels a priority. They all add bulk to the pile of laundry, so when they’re gone it looks like a lot was accomplished and helps the rest look manageable. And the blankets and out of season stuff won’t make their way back for a few months. Dishes are the same. It is easier to quickly wash the things needed immediately, but I usually wash large pots and pans and mixing bowls and things I don’t use everyday first. Because they’re not gonna end up back in the sink in two hours. It cuts down the bulk and it looks like I’ve done several loads of dishes because they’re not overflowing anymore.
cassie disch says
I just want to say you have inspired me to keep trying to work through the piles of “junk” I have everywhere. I have 3 little ones (4yrs, almost 3yrs and 8 months) and I get so overwhelmed when I try to get started cleaning. Then the baby cries or bigger kids get hungry or the dog wants in or etc etc. I never seem to get anywhere and that makes me that much more frustrated. But you’ve made me realize that even just a small accomplishment is still an accomplishment, like picking up laundry or putting away clean dishes. I have found that if I make the bed first it makes the room look much less messy and a lot easier to deal with. So thank you so much.
Dana White says
I love hearing this, Cassie! Welcome!
I love your blog. Sounds a lot like myself and I realized not too long ago why I have a hard time dealing with all the mess is because I am a “Big picture” person. And that explains why I don’t see the steps to taking on a big project or cleaning up one.
I used to keep a VERY clean house…cooked a big breakfast and a “Sunday dinner” every night, washing dishes, wiping down the appliances and mopping the kitchen floor EVERY DAY! I cleaned the bathroom (and mopped the floor), made the beds, swept the carpets and dusted EVERY DAY! I washed windows and wiped down the walls and the mop boards ONCE A WEEK !!! Now things are VERY different…I stopped doing all of this and can certainly relate to you and all the posts. I think it’s because I was feeling so isolated from family and friends where we are living and so I started surrounding myself with THINGS to compensate. Then my brother who is OCD (to the point that he folds his dirty clothes before he puts them in the clothes hamper)was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer. He is single with no kids so I asked him to come and stay for awhile with my husband (who is also OCD, but not so extreme). I dove in to cleaning my house like a whirling dervish! I got all the main areas and the guest room all cleaned up and thought it was great before my brother came. Then one day he was in the pantry choosing his soup for lunch and he asked if I would mind if he cleaned and organized my pantry to give him something to do….of course I said I didn’t mind….long story short, he threw out all the out-dated stuff and all the empty containers that I thought I would use to organize and organized the few items that were left and WOW, I’ve got tons of room. And now that it’s done I have kept it that way for 3 months! My husband and I worked on our storage shed (with my brother supervising and we got it all done in an afternoon! We also worked on our 30×40 ft building that was so full of everything else that we couldn’t even park our van in there when a hail storm or tornado was coming! I organized the loft and moved many things up from below. We then started in one corner and worked clockwise. I’m happy to report that although there is a ton of work to be done, I am now able to park my van inside! I couldn’t have done all this without my brother’s help….I was just too overwhelmed! My brother is now back at home, but I will keep working on what needs to be done and I’ll keep the areas clean that are already done because I don’t EVER want to go back to that AND I don’t want to disappoint my brother (whether he ever really would know or not). Thanks giving me a place to tell my story and I hope some of your readers can get something useful out of it.
May i borrow your brother for a couple of months?
i truly need all the help i can get (which is none, nada, zero right now) 🙂
Renae Toseff says
I am so glad I found you, I thought I was the only one who got paralyzed from being so overwhelmed by the mess and clutter that I have trouble even starting. Not only is my home needing to be decluttered but I recently shut down a resale shop full of clothing that I need to tackle. I also agree it is easier to call someone to get it, than actually try to sell or consign. These are great options when you have the clutter somewhat under control (which I don’t just yet) Thank you for all your help, and your not as different as you think. It has taken me years to learn just small steps on how to organize and declutter. I just have to learn to not bring things back in to replace the things I got rid of. Lol, I am a work in progress.
Dana White says
Welcome, Renae! We’re definitely not alone in this! I can only imagine how difficult it must be to deal with all the resale shop’s items.
when faced with cleaning my room mom said pick up all the dirty clothes then when that was done she said pick up all the paper and so on and so forth it really helped me a lot I am very thankful I can use that tool. though it would have been better if she did this daily or weekly or even monthly but it was about twice a year so growing up a messy room was more normal than a clean one. that became an obstacle to being a good house keeper I had slob vision and slowly had to adjust my normal inorder to stop self sabotaging. I truly was uneasy in my own home when it was fully clean I liked it better pig stye but not much. the one thing I remember having a spot was scissors we had a scissor drawer. my mother would always remind me to put the scissors away in the scissor drawer if I wanted scissors I was to look in the scissor drawer and if they weren’t there she would remind me that it must be because I didn’t put them in the scissor drawer when I was down I was and still am pretty loosy about putting scissors away but I remember that as being one of the only things that had a spot slowly over my years of deslobification when faced with cleaning my room after sorting clothes trash recycle donate give to a friend put away in another room and what not I made myself come up with homes for 5 things well five was my goal for years I never was able to finish cleaning my room but it did get better each time. I love the concept of a place for everything and everything in its place but it took me twelve years to get to where that was almost true. purging really helps but you have to truly be ready to say good buy or you will re get the same clutter stopping it before it comes in is good but isn’t always going to work
Oh my gosh! This blog is loaded with so many things that I recognize of myself. What do you mean by doing the easy stuff first? I have ADD although I have never been tested, but at age 72, I’m not going to let it worry me. What’s that old saying “My house is not perfect but clean enough to be happy ” or something like that..I have been reading all the coments and I recognize myself in so many. The book on Organizing that was mentioned: I bought that too but thought it was not what I expected and too simplel Another waste of money but such is life! Maybe I should drag it out and read it again and see if anything interest me. It’s probably going to be in the “donate pile” anyhow, the way I remember it..I don’t see how medication can help ADD but ADHD(yes). I don’t think I have ADHD but sometimes I do wonder. I am my husband’s caregiver and a lot of times I get so frustrated that I do fly off the handle. He has some memory loss, chron back pain from spinal stenois, arthritic spine and a pinched nerve. He is very unstead on his feet and unbalanced. He used to help me a lot without being asked to help but he can’t stand for long periods of time or do a lot of physical labor. I am it, and either I deal with it as best I can or hire somebody. I don’t think it’s got to that point yet.
My daughter offered to come over and help me declutter. Oh, it lasted about 4 hrs. she cleaned out about 3 or4 drawers full of picture frames, all sizes, types, took the pictures out and threw them in a storage box under the bed with all the other 50 years of pictures that are needing to be put in order or in albums. That was the end of the offer to help. I asked her early this week if she would come over and “Babysit” her Father while I meet a dear friend of mine for lunch and some shopping. We’ve been trying to get together for about 1 1/2 years..good thing we have telephones and emails to keep up with each other.. Our sons are the same age; hers is successful and self suporting; mine seems to go from job to job and he’s borrowed so much money from us in last two years that i’ve told him the Mom and Dad bank is closed!
I wished I had somebody to help me that wouldn’t pass judgement like Tracy had. Tracy, you are so lucky and I’m so sorry about your husband.
Does it help to make a list of “Things to do ” in each room and cross them off when each task has been completed? I did that one day and amazing how much I got accomplished. Maybe I will start doing that next week in each room. My DH fusses because I spend a lot of time on the computer, reading blogs, researching stuff and answering emails but he doesn’t understand the addiction because he doesn’t know anything about computers plus he never learned to type so We can help each other via this blog. Dana, Thanks for all your honesty and suggestions. You are definately an inspiration to all of us. I look forward to going back and reading back over the entire blog.
Lots of clutter here b/c we keep everything! I am cleaning off the kitchen table this morning – family coming for the game tomorrow. Your blog is very timely. I can see I am not alone in this situation. Problem is I clear off a table into a box and it’s never seen again. There are only two adults living here and you’d think we had a family of 8 with so much stuff.
Back to my table – I’ll read more later. Thanks.
I am CONSTANTLY saying “What’s THAT doing THERE?!” If I had a life jacket, I’m sure that, at some point in time, it would be found in the master bedroom. So, it doesn’t just happen at your house.. And your not knowing where to start and so not starting was totally me before starting to read your blog. Thanks for being real!
There is a life jacket in my bedroom! About 12 steps to the laundry/storage room where it belongs. (It’s been in my bedroom for 5 months)
I have to say I have spent the last couple of months trying to find something that would apply to my cleaning situation and still no progress. Well after reading your blog and you not being “normal”, I automatically realized this was me and I was interested in your method of tackling the inevitable. On my road to discovery of myself, I found that I have ADD and don’t do things the same way,as I guess one would call them “normal” people, and that’s ok. I like your approach and find it less over whelming removing the easier things to be able to move on to the bigger things.
Love this post. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed, sometimes. Since I started reading your blog, I’ve found myself telling my little ones to “do the easy things first” when they don’t know where to start cleaning their room. 🙂
You’re pretty much my new hero. I kept trying to find cleaning sites for help. Mostly what I found were really clean homes being cleaned again and it left me feeling like I wanted to punch someone. If I had a clean home, I wouldn’t need a website to help me out. I absolutely love your honesty. I also love the fact that you feel like hyperventilating some times. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in these feelings and that there is hope.
Dana White says
And . . . this is going in my Favorite Comments File!!!
Just found this post a few mins ago cause I’m was thinking what’s the fastest way to clean my messy house. I don’t seem to keep it clean not to mention I have 3 hyper boys. Oh geez lol. But this helps alot. Well now to get on a mission and start cleaning. Thanks you so much
Since my Slob Vision causes messes to be viewed as one big insurmountable problem instead of individual small problems, I sometimes get paralyzed before I even start. Which means I don’t start, and the problem gets worse.
Thank you for this. I’ve always felt quite alone in this and never mind the fact that I’ve never been able to even put the feeling into words. THANK YOU!
Angela @ Setting My Intention says
Oh! I just started our overwhelming basement a couple of weeks ago with my husband. We did the easy stuff first – garbage and recycling! It made a huge difference – we are documenting our slow but steady progress on the blog if anyone is interested!
Jean Diehl says
I often get stuck on the easy stuff. Many times I have had to say, I just have to get out of this kitchen! Then I can see some progress and reward myself with the easy stuff.
I want to link this to my own hard stuff post. Actually, I’ve reference you about a million times! And I always include a link to your site.
Dana White says
Wow…just retired I June and thought it was the perfect time to get my house in order…no more excuses! Now, if I could just get the motivation….I really like the idea of one small job at a time. I live alone as well, just my dogs and they don’t care how cluttered things are!
Having company is always a good motivator, but it spills back out again…I’m thinking of getting rid of a bunch of stuff and getting a tiny house…won’t be any room for clutter!
Thought I was alone such a relief to know others in the same boat.
Dana White says
You’re definitely not alone!
Oh sister! 🙂
Blue Buddha says
Thank you for posting honest photos—seriously, thank you. I see so many posts about how to start cleaning and I think, “cool, you have a 20’x20′ laundry space; I have a broom shed. You have a basement dedicated to storage; I have a Harry Potter closet. You have a child who cleans up every single mess they make and your cats and dogs fold your laundry for you; cool, my cats add a special ingredient to every meal (it’s called cat hair and it’s gross). I don’t feel like such a failure anymore in my house keeping. It’s just simply not my priority, but with some of your tips, it can at least be one of the things that’s not also entirely excluded.
I have a serious problem with my home. We have a small home 1000sq ft. It has no closets! The house is divided in half with a center wall, one half is a kitchen and we also use part of that area as our bedroom, our boys are in the only bedroom which works fine with bunk beds and a twin bed. We have one dresser in their room for clothing. A small laundry room is used for some storage, and we hang clothes on racks that were made for blanket doors. Everything else is in bins. This is driving me nuts! I think my only solution is to get a outdoor metal storage unit because I just cannot find any more room in this house to store things!
I just came across your blog and I think it’s going to be very helpful. Life long slob here, with ADHD and never, ever knowing where to start. Occasionally (twice a year or so) my boyfriend will clean the entire house during his vacation time, he does one room a day. I always cry in joy and promise him I’ll do everything I can to keep it that way… that lasts about a week. I seriously put used paper towels on the counter instead of throwing them in the trash 2 feet away. The mail gets opened and all the envelopes or package boxes end up on the coffee table or floor in the living room. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, it gets so out of hand that I become incredibly overwhelmed and don’t have any clue where to start. I’ve been home from work for 2 full days for our winter break and haven’t done anything but gather a few pieces of paper for recycling. I’ve been literally sitting here on the couch for the better part of 10 hours, worrying about this mess and sad that I’ve waited so long to deal with it that I can’t even decorate for Christmas. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I’m determined to, at the very least, tidy up the living and dining areas so we can have some Christmas feeling in our home. Looking forward to reading more of your blog!
Inspired by your blog and have a ‘plan’ in mind now!!Got the main floor all organized and cleaned and spring is when the basement rooms are going to get ‘cleaned out’ and organized.(One room at a time,perhaps,one room a week…but,it will get done,in time)!
Have cleaned out excess dishes,clutter in kitchen cabinets ,which helped immensely,and got rid of lots of excess clothes I don’t wear,like,or want!Also ,got rid of excess ‘knick knacks’ and junk sitting around to dust!!(So much less intimidating to clean now)!
Everything looks much better now,after I clean it too!
Husband is a pack rat so hard to work with him but little by little,it’s coming along!
Thank you for this. I ….. am a slob. I am also very indolent. I have severe anxiety, depression, and general “smurfiness” as I like to call it. A good day is a “sunflower day”… a bad day for me is a “smurf day” and lately the smurfs have been crowding out the sunflowers.
One of those reasons is the sheer disgustingness of my home. I’ve felt SO lost as to where to start lately, that I’ve thought about hiring in a professional company to come deep clean it (even though I really, really can’t afford it and it will cause some bill juggling later)… but they wouldn’t know where to put stuff away so doing that is kind of a moot point until I at least get the laundry put where it goes, the knicknacks put away, etc, the place at least “picked up” even if it’s not clean…
When I got home today and looked at the disaster area that is my living room, of mixed junk, boxes, bags, clothing, paintings unhung, a tub of fresh cat-litter, papers and bags and art supplies like a giant vomited them everywhere (and I do mean everywhere) I felt that same sense of overwhelming despair you talked about…. and so I decided to google “where to start when your house is so messy that you don’t know where to start” and came across your blog.
I don’t know if it will help much (as most of the stuff/junk/etc currently spread anywhere doesn’t actually HAVE any official place in my home (I’m still unpacking a year later….) but…. at least it’s a place to start. I don’t need to have empty shopping bags on the floor. Those DO have a spot. I think I’m going to at least attempt to get started, here, this afternoon when I get home from a previous commitment. A stop at the store for some supplies, and….. just start with at least the very few things that DO have a known place in my home.
Oh god, I hate cleaning. It would be so easier to do if it were fun or relaxing for me, haha. But what is it they say… little worth doing is easy….. Urgh. Urk. Oh man. I so don’t want to do this. But I can…. I must!
It’s so amazing to encounter SO many people looking through these comments that think they must be the ONLY person in the entire world to be such a slob, to be such a bad person – because to struggle and fail at such a basic thing as housekeeping is a moral failing, right? At least, that’s how it feels. It has been a huge encouragement to be able to read your blog, Nony, because these pages convince me (again) that I am not alone; that I am not a bad person; and that the mess will not drown me!
PS: my best friend is a black bin bag as well 😉
Sue – your statement really stands out for me, because I feel that way – like my challenged housekeeping makes me a bad person! Even though I know intellectually that that makes no sense, AND that I would never make that judgment about someone else, I unfortunately have a different standard for myself. Thank you for putting this into words!
Uhhh…lifejacket? I think that belongs to me. Oh, no. It’s still there in the homeschool room. Why, you ask? Maybe my little boys want to pretend they are shipwrecked by wearing a lifejacket that doesn’t fit (well, it fits the three-year-old anyway.) Or, maybe it’s time to toss it overboard into the garbage bin (it’s old enough I don’t think it should be given away and if I wouldn’t give it away, I also shouldn’t keep it, huh?)
I was raised as an only child with a mother who kept a beautifully decorated and spotlessly clean home, on a small budget, without an outside job. My dad was our only source of income. I, mother of four kids and innumerable cats and dogs, who worked full time for thirty years, always compared myself to mother and failed miserably in my mind. I am actually a natural born slob, there are such things you know. Finally at 77 years of age, still with pets and a big house and yard, (yard man works for me), I am getting a handle on keeping things nice, except for two storage rooms which I plan to tackle, little by little. I have your book on my Kindle and am inspired by reading in it when I get lazy. Hoping to have those two rooms in order by the end of the summer. Thanks for all your help.
Misty W. says
I have designated laundry baskets to clean and each bin is a room. Then all I have to do is take it to its destination and put away the items. Easier for me!
Kathy C says
Amen to that. If I wander off to put one item away, I invariably get sidetracked and lost in some ADHD hyperfocus in “the weeds” only to emerge hours later, very hungry, wondering where the day went, and only an immaculately organized drawer in a completely different room to show for my efforts!
Hi. My name is Rachel * Hi Rachel * and I’m a slob. *insert applause* lol but seriously this is a problem…. I’m out of college and I’m trying to clean my room and I’m wondering if it will ever be clean ??? I’m sorting through little stuff and I’m resorting to throwing some things away I just can’t take it any longer. When I get married one day I want to keep my house clean. My boyfriend is very very neat and I’m hoping that he will one day rub off on me. Lol Poor thing. Thanks for the article… I was about to dive back in my room and I’m like there’s gotta be someone who goes through what I go through lol the internet has to have an answer ???
Elaine Harrison says
I think I have found someone who is just like me. U think the same way I do. I can’t see the forest for the trees. If I could ever just get started. Thank you. I will be signing up for your newsletter
Dana White says
Thank goodness I found this site. I don’t know what it is about being female but when you say your place is messy people seem to think you mean ‘cute messy’, as in I didn’t make my bed this morning messy… Which is just not helpful when looking for a way to clean up the horrendous hurricane that is my floor so I’ll be implementing your decluttering and cleaning rules. By the time I move at the end of the year I should have purged most of my emotional clutter so packing is easier.
Larissa Horvath says
My favorite piece of advice that I always come back to – ALWAYS – is: “If it takes less than two minutes, just do it.”
When my clutter and dirt and mess and WTF are so overwhelming, as I walk through a room I look at what could take less than two minutes to do. Throw away a piece of paper? Cool. Pick up a stray shoe and toss it back in my room? No problem. Get a week’s worth of outfits ready for work after being off for six weeks? Um… that’s ….that’s longer than two minutes.
So, I go make some tea, I look around on the internet for posts like this, and then I try to figure out where to start exactly.
I think this time it’s going to be: move everything into a big pile in the living room. THAT will take less than two minutes. Then I can have my tea and think of what clothes need to be laundered.
And that’s where I’m at now. Thank you for your post. 🙂
I relate to so many of the feelings expressed here that I’m actually tearing up. I’ve just been feeling like there is something very, very wrong with me that I can’t handle this stuff that “everyone else” can. Thank you for making me feel less alone.
Big Momma says
Dana, I just found your blog this AM, not being able to sleep for trying to figure out how to get my house back in order, it has been out of cleaning routines of the day since my beloved hubby past and I become so depressed I didn’t care if I lived or died. That said I also so have a grown son, daughter-in-law and 5 grand children living with me and I have never lived in a dirty, cluttered, messy home till I lost my love of my life. My daughter & son was trying to help keep up but the little one’s managed to over power us and they have run of the house now because I don’t feel like raising them. I keep watch over them to keep them safe and out of harms way but I get overwhelmed I suffer from cancer that is in remission for three yrs now but the pain and struggle are still there and I still want my home clean but don’t have the energy to maintain it like I always have before. I keep telling myself it sucks to get old and THEN gain wisdom when you don’t have the ability and strength to do what needs to be done weather its the easy stuff first or the (it all needs done now) comes into mind. My other problem with my grand kids is that they are always and forever getting into my stuff and either taring it up or breaking it. I was not raised like this and I did not raise my kids this way yet it seems that I can not get it into my grand kids heads (if its not yours don’t touch it). My home is small, very little storage space or area’s and nothing to grow on. Is there an answer for my (I can’t keep it clean) issues? Another issue is being able to afford the cleaning supplies and necessities of the task of living in a clean, clutter free HAPPY HOME again. Can you PLEASE help me figure out what I need to do?
I wish I had known about this site years ago!! I just found you this evening. I am a perfectionist-slob. I HATE my messes, I can’t ever get anything done to my specs., so I end up doing nothing at all. I used to be able to keep my home a comfortable mess, more of a “lived in” feel than the “eww, what a slob” feel I live in today.
My big sister/best friend/the only person who always loved me just because…(yes, I do mean ONLY PERSON), died last Nov. I just didn’t care about anything after that. I’m still having problems caring about cleaning & decluttering, but my husband, well…let’s just say he’s not happy and he’s not afraid to share that information.
I ended up with hundreds of pictures. Many are copies, many are “onlys”. I have tried sorting them, I have asked just about everyone who’s walked in my door to help (ok, just all my family) they’re all “ok, sure, not today, but call me…” So, now I have an approx. 3×3 space on the floor, at the end of my couch, that is– loose pictures, empty albums, bags of partially sorted pics, boxes of pics, thumb drives for me to make copies for everyone else, photo quality paper.and whatever just ended up there (probably all the missing cat toys). But the rest of my house looks like all your before pictures having a really bad hair day! I am just freaked out and overwhelmed.
Dana White says
I am so sorry to hear about your sister’s death.
Josie V. says
I am a new reader and I was amazed at how I could relate to everyone’s comments. My home office and the playroom for my grandchildren seem to always be in disarray, putting it nicely! I know exactly how the reader feels when her day starts at 4 a.m. and gets home at 4 p.m., tired and no ambition to tackle even the small piles, but today I am going to implement the “Easy Stuff First” Thanks for the humorous comments to start my day.
I’m so glad I found your blog–actually, I’m really glad Alli March (Scattered Squirrel) found you and made a blog post about your book. I came to check it out, and I must say it’s been so refreshing (and reassuring!) that you struggle with the same issues I do–and so many others, as well. I have felt, like so many have commented here, alone and like there was something wrong with me. I have beaten myself up over it–(why can’t I do this like everyone else? My neighbors all have immaculate houses–why is it so hard for me? etc.) Thank you for being brave enough to share your struggle with the rest of the world–I have always felt so ashamed, I could never ask for help–just the thought of someone asking me one more time, “Why do you have this? Why are you keeping that?” makes me want to scream. It’s so frustrating. I only wish I had come here a week earlier… I just re-started working on my closet… I’m still stepping over the items I pulled out of there while I “organize”… (sigh). Lol.
Great blog! I just started following you. Thank you for putting these feeling into words. I do feel paralyzed just thinking about all the things that I need to do or should be doing. So, I don’t even bother starting. I’ll stare at my closet and go, nope. And I walk away. Your tips that I’ve read so far have really been helpful. Glad to know I’m not alone! Looking forward to reading more! 🙂
Literally came here after googling When your room is so messy you don’t know where to start! There’s even a messy pile of stuff lying out still from Christmas!!! 🙁 Thank you for the motivation boost and wise advice! I’m starting with the putting away the easy things first, wish me luck! 🙂
Debra Walker says
We live in a house my mom built in the early 80’s she is deceased along with my hubby of 33 years who was a hoarder. We technically have 4 different households full of stuff and despite getting rid of a lot of “things” we are still piled to the ceiling. We are having a house built, need a new start and are going to move only the main furniture and the rest is going in the trash or getting sold to the auction in our town. This will be the first time we will have a chance to live in an organized uncluttered house and I am 63 years old. So here is to new starts.
Just listened to your book all the way through, and am starting over again before I have to return it to the library. The mantra “just do the dishes” has been the most helpful so far. 40 days and counting.
Grateful Teen says
Thank you so much for producing this blog. The fact is true….. do the easy stuff first so you don’t get overwhelmed. My room is so bad, that I slept on the couch for the past two nights because I couldn’t stand being in my own room it was so messy! I came in and hyperventilated at the mere thought of even starting to clean it. Thanks to you, I was able to get it even at least bearably clean without having a full-out panic attack.
Omg, you are my spirit animal. I literally found my son’s life jacket in my master bedroom under a pile of laundry. I’m guessing it had been there for months. Thanks for the motivation!8
Skye Ransom says
Oh Lord! THANK YOU! You just verbalized my every thought and anxiety as I am attempting to tackle a mound of seemingly impossible, in places down right disgusting, CHAOS! Aka my house! I have always been an “all or nothing” extremist to house cleaning. If I clean it has to be spot free EVERYWHERE! With 7 children (even though 3 have officially moved out… and it didn’t make the mess any easier), a full time ministry that falls short due to the messiness of my mind when my house seems so reflective of my self worth, and that sense of overwhelming doom I get when I can barely keep the front part of the house presentable long enough for my husband to come home to something tidy-ish for max amount of 15 mins… tops! I am losing my mind… likely somewhere in the play room, or my closet… maybe my bedroom where all things from everybody seem to land as if it were a dumping zone, or a habitual hiding place. Tackling the easy stuff is a completely foreign concept to me. I got one drawer cleaned and organized as I ignored the toilet paper roll and the overflowing master bathroom trash and the pile of clothing from each and every family member who has invaded my master as if it were a community bath house. One proud perfectly organized drawer down, I felt a sense of accomplishment… that is until I realized that an hour had passed and you couldn’t even tell I had even BEEN in my bathroom once that drawer was shut. I literally wanted to scream “WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!!!!!!” And throw things… so I retreated. Outside to take a breather and do something so dumb as to Google “how to clean a messy house”… I mean who doesn’t know how to clean a messy house… am I right?! Well your blog is the first thing I came to and it was a Godsend. I don’t feel so alone in my frustration. I feel someone else out there truly “gets me” and also was willing to be transparent enough to use the word slob when it comes to a mindset. Anyway… I just wanted to take the time to say thank you. And then… once I have mustered the courage to go back inside and move forward once again in my conquest for a someday perfectly organized house (though right now I would settle for perfectly less humiliating)… I will take a different approach. I will seek out and destroy the easy… which is NOT easy for ME, as it takes complete reprogramming of my messy mind. But I can do it… What task shows the most progress, start there! And hope and pray that I can conquer the undone bits at a time. Please tell me there is hope to reach an end someday. An organized, everything has a place and everything in its place kind of end to the dark tunnel… Will I ever win this war??? Please tell me you are winning now!!
I found your podcasts and they led me to your blog. I just wanted to thank you for putting yourself out there. I’m a messy person by nature (much to my neatfreak father’s horror), and I work to minimize my ability to be messy by just having less stuff. But it’s been a big process, and an incomplete, imperfect one.
I grew up in a spotless home, so I know what it’s like to live in a neat place, and I know I like it more than a messy home. Unfortunately I inherited my mother’s tendency towards clutter, rather than my father’s tendency to declutter with every breath. I also inherited my father’s discomfort with messy spaces. Not a good mix.
Now that I’m married and own a home, I’m trying to learn how to juggle a full time job, and maintaining a house. My husband tries, but he tends toward the messy side himself. However, he knows that clutter gives me anxiety, and he does genuinely try.
I’ve got most of the house under control… But my craft room.. oh dear God, my craft room. I don’t know how I let it get this bad. It’s horrifying. I don’t know which post, but there’s one where you mention having a room where you just open the door.. and then just close it because you can’t mentally handle it. That’s my craft room. I can’t open the door all the way. There isn’t even a path, you just have to hop over stuff. I haven’t actually crafted in there in ages because being in there is the opposite of relaxing and creativity-sparking.
But tonight, I took a plastic bag in there, and spent 10 minutes just picking up trash. It made a (very) small dent. And I’m thrilled. I can see the carpet again! In a few places. Still got a long ways to go, but I’m going to try to dedicate at least 10 minutes every day to just.. doing something in there until it’s where I want it to be again. So thank you for giving me the push to actually go in once I opened that door. =)
Yep. I’m another “life jacket in the master bedroom” reader. Literally. I think it was hanging out in there for over a year.
Debi Z says
Yes! I always tell my kids, “Put away the stuff that you know where it goes!” They start picking up the dining room, and immediately go to the things that don’t have a home! “Where does this go Mom??? I can’t pick up, I don’t know where this ceramic angel goes!” Um, how about you start with the dishes on the table, the crayons on the floor, and the dirty socks under the buffet? You know where those go 🙂 Of course, I rarely follow my own advice lol
joan lamb says
Ah, we get so soon old, and so late smart. I’m 88, so it is time.
Everything, including the life-jacket (mine is currently in the backseat of my car and has been for 6 months), about this post is familiar to me. Thank you!
I had a pile of stuff spread across the doors to the bedroom closet (not a walk-in). It probably started 10 years ago! We couldn’t get to the rods, or the shoes, or the stuff on the shelves. I was totally unable to even consider decluttering it. And then I found Decluttering at the Speed of Life.
I decided on one thing: it was all trash. All of it. If I hadn’t seen it in 5 years, I didn’t need it. Granted, as I was scooping it into the trash, I did find a few things that needed to be salvaged, but that attitude helped me tackle it fearlessly.
I can’t wait to. Get into the Office now.
Sandy Redmon says
Dana – I have been de-cluttering my home for 16 years. I will never be finished. But, I wanted to tell you that you have inspired me to start my first blog. Similar subject matter, but coming from a bit of a different perspective. If you would take a very quick look at it, I would love some feedback. This is being done for me, not for any financial gains, etc. I just got my copy of your book and also ordered the “Eat at Home” subscription. I am a work in progress and I give God all the glory.
I am SO happy I found your book and blog. I tried the Marie Kondo method of seeing what “sparked joy” and it turns out that over 90% of my stuff sparks joy and there was no difference in my house. Your container method has seriously changed how I view my home and helped me SO much. It really helps knowing that there are other people like me out there that got their houses under control. I swear almost every one of your “slob thoughts” in your book we’re thoughts I’ve had myself 🙈 Thank you so much for your blog and book! I have recommended it to everyone I know
Well, I was just thanking God for answering MY prayers for HELP! So here we are, just a day or two out and into your Slob site! Then, I asked Him to help me actually DO IT,/FOLLOW THROUGH and not just “read about it”. THAT doesn’t do much if I just have the tools in my hand and don’t follow through! (Kind of like when I collected lots and lots of healthy exercise videos and I realized all of a sudden, “ummm, you have to ACTUALLY DO THEM, not just have them in your possession!” It’s a terrible self- deception.
BTW, I tried a very small declutter last nightand it was great! and couldn’t wait to get back home today to start another…but I have a problem that sometimes if I get even a little done, I have an unrealistic gladness that I accomplished “something”. And there I ‘ll sit, without continuing. Or restarting. Like a very low expectation of myself that I have done well, when I’ve only done very little. Is that a kind of paralysis, procrastination, ________, or just plain foolishness?!
As soon as I send this, I’m going to go to my next “little” declutter, and this time I’ll rem to take a pic before and after like you said. It’s a simple one, so I should have success, just like you say, dear Dana!
Richest blessings and hugs to you all, just the way you are! And are on your way, as I am…
Carolyn Desjardins says
I am laughing so hard! The crayon, the life jacket, the craft room door that won’t open. I can relate to ALL these things! I have found my tribe. May we never live together. Amen.
Carolyn Desjardins says
I know this is not in the book, but I made a list, so I don’t have to decide every day. I just do the next thing on the list. A list of Visible Areas and a list of Hidden Areas. Then I broke them down into half hour chunks. Then I prioritized them – easy stuff first. In one week so far, I have decluttered bath products, the bathroom counter, the medicine cabinet, the little cupboards on my bathroom counter (it was ALL garbage), the front hall table, the bathroom under cabinets, the dining room table, and I have done my dishes and swept every night. It is amazing how little time it actually took. This CAN be done.
Jacquie Jones says
I am so grateful for the post, I can’t even begin to articulate why, because if I do, I’ll start crying, so let me just leave it at THANK YOU!!!
Great information at this site. Thank you! It’s not clear from reading the 10 plus years of messages if this section is still active. Hopefully, you still receive my THANKS! I want to empty my place so no one has to do it after I die. Receiving metastatic/palliative treatments for cancer should be enough motivation to get me going, but it isn’t. I am a failure. I want everything gone, just as if I never existed. That would give me peace of mind not to be leaving this mess behind. Thank you for the fantastic suggestions!
😱 this is so me, I am so overwhelmed that I cannot start.