Oh how I love a big reveal. I love it when things go from awful to wonderful in one day.
But real life, fortunately/unfortunately seems to be more about the small improvements. The ones that happen again and again. At random moments.
I shared my laundry room cleanout last spring. I was excited to be able to use my narrow rolling rack that I’ve had for years (through multiple washers and dryers), but that didn’t fit with the last set up we had.
I also shared the imperfect container I was using for rags. It didn’t fit neatly (or prettily) on the rolling rack, but it did the job I needed to do. It contained. I used it as a natural limit to determine how many rags I could/needed to keep.
And then one day over the summer, as I finished one container of laundry detergent pods and started on another, I realized the pod container would fit perfectly on the rack.
And was the perfect size to “contain” all of the rags.
Yay for finding the perfect container and not paying a thing for it!
But, y’all, another unexpected benefit came from this quick and practical moment.
Not only could I fit the rag container on the rack, I now had room to fit my new container of laundry pods on there as well. And that has given me unexpected joy each and every Monday since.
Once upon a time, I didn’t even consider buying detergent in pod form because it tends to be more expensive than the kind you pour. Then one day, as I was ordering what I needed, I saw that some pods were on sale and were as good a deal as the stuff I normally bought.
The minute I started using them, I fell in love. No heavy lifting of jumbo-sized, super heavy, strangely-messy-even-though-it’s-technically-a-cleaning-product containers. I just reached down, grabbed a pod, and plopped it in.
And felt joy.
I was surprised at the pleasant emotion I felt each time I went through this ritual (six or seven times every Monday) and decided I was willing to pay a few extra cents per load to experience that feeling.
But y’all, it got better. When I rearranged things for the “new” rag container and put the pod box on the shelf, I had no idea how my life would improve.
I now don’t even have to reach. I don’t bend over or twist or turn or anything. I grab a pod and drop it in, moving my hand less than a foot.
And every time I do this, I smile and maybe even giggle a little.
I know this sounds like a rather ridiculous thing to get so excited about.
But these are the little things that I imagine would happen if I was “organized.” If I could just set things up perfectly, thinking through every last detail, life would run smoothly. Laundry would run smoothly.
Laundry would be easy.
But perfect doesn’t happen around here.
So many times, I have “organized” spaces. I have analyzed and predicted and planned. But even though I loved the after photos, the spaces would eventually go back to chaos. For years, I assumed that meant I had failed.
But, over the life of this blog, focusing on my deslobification process, I’ve realized that my goal is Better. And I’ve given myself permission to just declutter.
Again and again if needed.
And as I do that, as I look for ways to put the Container Concept into action, as I allow myself to make tiny changes as they occur to me instead of putting off making any changes until I “have the time” to do Entire System Overhauls, things get Better.
And I find joy in Better.
What Better has given you joy lately?
Links from this post:
The Container Concept explained in a podcast.
The Container Concept explained through the lightbulb moment when I finally grasped the concept for myself.
An Amazon affiliate link to the narrow rolly cart I love so much.
Amazon affiliate links to two kinds of laundry detergent pods I’ve loved way too passionately: All and Tide
What gave me joy this summer was finding a new purpose for our unused, catch-all dining room. We don’t eat in there, we eat in the kitchen. We’ve tried eating in the dining room, but the extra steps from the kitchen weren’t worth it when I have two kids asking me every 10 seconds for something else. So we eat in the kitchen and the dining room became a mess. It is also one of the two rooms downstairs that people see when they first come in the house. So I determined that over summer break, I would do something with it. I had a hard time coming up with something, and then I hit on the idea of a parlor or as I call it a Tea Room. I LOVE tea. I drink it every day, at any time of day. My best friend loves tea, too. Now when she comes to visit (from across the country–yes, I did this for my friend who lives a 6 hour plane flight away, as well as for myself) we can have real tea in a pretty room. Yay! AND I have trained my children to (mostly) clean up after themselves, and when they forget and I remind them, they do it right away. And they are mostly successful at it. AND most of their toys are upstairs now, in their rooms, where they belong which means my living room is also acceptable for guests to see! The best moment was when my husband called me and informed me that a friend had unexpectedly come into town from out of state for a job interview, and was coming over for lunch. I didn’t panic (for the first time). I just had the girls (still summer) pick up a couple of things and I cleaned the downstairs bathroom (just an extra cleaning, because, guests). That was IT. It was so glorious, I couldn’t stand it. And so far, the Tea Room is still clean!
We love those pods too! Our fairly young children run our clothes washer and oh, those are way easier to handle than the big clunky detergent containers.
I’ve come closer to running the dishwasher EVERY day. And each time I’ve skipped a day, I’ve regretted the consequences and said to my hubby something along the lines of “Ugh! I should have followed Nony’s daily-dishwashing rule.”
Melinda Mitchell says
“No heavy lifting of jumbo-sized, super heavy, strangely-messy-even-though-it’s-technically-a-cleaning-product containers. ”
That is how I feel!!
Yoo hoo for better! And giggling while doing laundry!!
I love the pods too! I thought I must be the only person who thought they were so great as to make me giddy. We are back to using regular detergent now (somehow our Amazon delivery got changed) and I can’t wait for the next delivery.
My clean kitchen benches and sink are my “better” that gives me joy. This Tuesday my dog had a lump removed from her ‘armpit’ and she has needed constant vigilance and attention making it very difficult to do my usual daily chores. It’s also meant the budget is extra tight to pay for those vet bills so we’ve done a lot of cooking, even cooking the dogs food (her favourite is home cooked so it’s a treat as well as more cost effective). This means there are more dirty dishes then usual and there’s been less dish cleaning, resulting in a kitchen with counter tops covered in dirty pots and pans, a sink full of dirty dishes and nowhere to prepare meals. This return to how things used to be has given me an extra appreciation for the joy of a clean kitchen. My kitchen has been clean rather consistently now for over a year and going back to trying to cook around piles of dirty dishes felt really stressful.
Read about when I first started to discover the joy of a clean kitchen. https://www.aslobcomesclean.com/2015/08/from-our-mailbox-doing-the-dishes-does-make-a-difference/
Sandi F. says
You convinced me to try Blue Apron! We are empty-nesters, and with my slob brain in charge of meals, we tend to either 1) waste food I “think” I will cook, or 2) eat out. I’m home to do meal prep, and we spend more in restaurants for three meals per week than what the service costs, so I figure it’s worth a try. I’m heading out of town for a bit, so my first order will get there the third week of September, but I’ll report back after we’ve tried it for a few weeks.
Dana White says
I’m so glad to hear that! I kept thinking that your situation would be the absolute best for it!
Jacqueline Jones says
I’m realizing the better of my days as I put your principles into practice. I no longer rush out the door to walk my dog the first chance I get. I now complete my Dana K. White tasks after I tend to my bedridden mom and then I walk the dog. It amazes me that I have most of my household chores done on most days by 10am. That has never happened in my 50+ years. God bless you.
I’ve been been doing your daily chores and have finally hit on a weekly cleaning schedule that seems to be working for me. Hurray!! If I keep this up my kids may actually be able to host post-pandemic play dates. 🙂
By far, my biggest “better” has come from finally implementing your 5 minute pick up. I listened to 200 of your podcasts and read both of your books before finally setting a timer and trying it. I resisted because my real clutter problem was/is hidden in the closets and storage areas; the visible areas usually aren’t that bad in comparison. Regardless, I’ve been *shocked* at how much better my house looks and feels when I give myself permission to spend a little time folding throws, putting pillows back on the couches and dealing with procrasti-clutter.
Thank you, Dana!!
Susan McVicker says
I LOVE this article! What happiness!
Susan McVicker says
My recent best moment was taking a country blue cupboard that I came so close to getting rid of I could have a stroke because I couldn’t legitimately find a use for it….. and….turning it into a craft center. (my daughter made this happen because she asked for permission to turn my OTHER craft center into a Coffee Station and THAT freed up my space in my office).
So I painted the blue cabinet, glossy black an gave it new bronze handles. It now looks very masculine and classy. I placed it in a particular corner of my new office, and my husband hung up FIVE shelves above it.
All of this holds things like scissors, tapes, tools, crafting tools, staples/paper clips, magnets, clothespins, ribbon, punchers, scrap paper, scrapbook paper, patterns, gift wrap, etc.
I’m sooooooooooo glad I didn’t have to get rid of that beloved piece of furniture. phew!
I love the pods too and discovered a brand that I can buy that comes in a bag so I can use my one big plastic pod holder over and over again and just pour the new pods in and throw out the bag. Yay for less plastic!
And as you can see from all the comments, Dana, a lot of us get real excited about little laundry successes.
I’m in the fabulous “Take your house back” course and loving it. My decluttering momentum has definitely slowed, but your post today about just making tiny improvements counts too, and it was just what I needed. Thanks.
JoLynn Gates says
I live alone and I never entertain beyond occasional coffee with a friend. My dining room was a fiasco! It caught everything I didn’t want in my living room, while my sewing room at the far end of the house was in crowded disarray. My “Better” project was converting the dining room into my sewing room – so convenient, since I sew for customers and I’m in and out of that room multiple times a day. I also recently acquired a freezer chest, which fits in the sewing room and works as a small cutting table. The former sideboard is now a supply and craft cabinet, and all my bags and boxes of cotton scraps (I also make quilts) are newly organized in cubbies on a wire shelf in the corner where they used to be in one great pile. My new motto is “Progress, Not Perfection”.
Diane Laub says
I just started using Earth Breeze, sheet of dried detergent you throw into the washer. You use 1/2 sheet, 1sheet, or 2 sheets depending on size of load and how dirty. No plastic!
Heard about this on The Minimal Mom.
FWIW, I use that classic homemade laundry powder made of borax, super washing soda, and grated Fels Naptha laundry bar soap. What makes that great is that you mix it up once and it’s a BIG batch, but then you only use one coffee scoop of the stuff per load, so it lasts MONTHS! Very inexpensive. (Like, less than $10 for a supply that lasts maybe half a year.) I store mine near the washer in a container that holds about four cups of the stuff so it’s convenient to use, and keep the rest elsewhere. It works for me because I don’t have to worry about running out very often, and I can control how much I use on each wash so maybe light loads get half a scoop and very heavy loads might get two scoops. It always does a good job of cleaning.
I struggled with rags in the laundry room. They have hung in bags on door knobs. Then I hung them on back of door with command hooks but they kept falling off. Then I got smart and hung a rack on the wall behind the door and put them in a canvas bag, that we already had. Don’t know why it took so long to do what I should have done in the beginning.