Lifehacker Tip #19 – Tidy as you go

Have I mentioned before that I hate cleaning? If not, it’s worth repeating.

I hate cleaning

This is of course quite at odds with the fact that I am a complete neat freak. If there is mess around me I pretty much can’t do anything. I think this comes from my high school days where I was a huge procrastinator and given there were no twitter and Facebook back then, I procrastinated by cleaning my room. Everything had to be utterly pristine before I could grudgingly turn my attention to whatever assignment or studying I was putting off. The legacy of those high school days is that I now can’t do anything useful (like work or write) unless everything around me is completely tidy.

Given I work from home these days, and given I have a whole house to look after now and not just a bedroom, and given that I am VERY BUSY, I can’t be doing a big clean up every single time I need to get something important done. That’s why I tidy as I go.

I use the one minute rule to eliminate piles of stuff. Every time we leave the house, we do a quick tidy. When Jaden goes down for a sleep we do a tidy. Each night before we go to bed we do a  ten minute tidy. If I am making dinner, I get rid of anything in the sink or on counters first. While I am cooking, if I finish with a plate or a pan it gets washed or put in the dishwasher straight away. After serving up dinner for everyone, I wash/put away what I can before I eat. This means I can enjoy my dinner and that after dinner, only the dishes we ate on need to be dealt with.

This may sound utterly exhausting but for someone like me who can’t bear the thought of doing anything more than 10 minutes of tidying, it means I am never faced with a house so messy that I don’t know where to start. And it means that I can happily leave all the ‘cleaning’ (you know like mopping and vacuuming) for X to do on the weekend!

What about you? Do you think I am mental, or do you like to tidy as you go too?

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  1. says

    I am exactly the same. It kills me that I can’t just leave it until the end of the day and do one big tidy. Rather than ‘keeping on top of it’ I truly believe that tidying as you go creates 10x the workload! Some days it feels like all we do is tidy.

    But, I can’t stop!

    Must try!


    • says

      I agree that it creates 10x the workload, but this is one area I cannot be efficient in. The messier the house gets, the worse my state of mind!

  2. says

    I’m the same too. I can’t stand clutter, it messes with my head. I’m really trying to relax with it, my mother has even told me I need to leave things out but our house is so small it’s much easier for me to clean as I go.

    • says

      My husband says the same ‘just leave it, just relax’ … but I can’t!! I think it is better to acknowledge something like this than fight it!

  3. wotisunique says

    I am not like you at all.

    I love a tidy space, but am not very good at keeping things tidy. I have, however, been implementing your 1 minute rule and also a 10minutes before bed tidy and I’m impressed. I am yet to convince others in the house of the value of the 1 minute rule, and then I get all bent out of shape (I have discovered this great technique and you don’t want to join in??).

    • says

      Ha ha haaaaaaa! Love it. And I LOVE that the one minute rule and the ten minute tidy are working so well for you – they are my LIFESAVERS!

  4. says

    It will surprise you not that we are the same.. I clean up constantly but as you say.. it takes 2 mins here and there and means my house is never too bad if I had surprise guests drop in.

    I NEVER have surprise guests drop in but I do it for me and I like it..

    • says

      That is so funny that you mention drop ins because part of my rationale for being this way is that it is handy ‘just in case someone ever drops by’. But like you, this NEVER happens for us!!! So quite a flawed rationale!

  5. says

    I started using the one minte rule and man it works a treat!! I can never go to bed with the house being messy and don’t think I ever will.

  6. says

    Same here Kel, I can’t stand a mess around me. I clean as much as possible before dinner, and would be so happy if I could have all the dishes done before I sat down!
    I find it’s even worse if I’m sick, making sure every surface is spotless when I probably should be in bed.

    So glad I’m not on my own with this one.


  7. says

    Phew.. I have wondered from time to time if I am normal.. But I actually find it more efficient, as I know where (most) things are, and can find thing under the mess.. Love the 1 minute rule and the tidy up before bed.. Otherwise – yuk, congealed saucepans in the morning .. :(

  8. says

    I do exactly the same think Kelly, its the difference between a little mess and a disaster zone…makes all the difference! Nothing worse then finishing dinner only to be greeted by a trainwreck in the kitchen from cooking said dinner!

  9. says

    I am a clean freak and yet I can be quite messy….I’m the one who seems to accumulate a pile of clothes at the end of the bed every day and can never find anything in my office. BUT my house is, on the whole really clean and tidy….because my hubby is a neat freak – so I do the cleaning and he does most of the magicking and organizing. Perfect match!

  10. says

    I try…I do but I go to clean, forget what I’m doing and then never get around to it. I have a lot of piles but I’m happy with that. Those piles are organised! I’ll try and bring some Kelly into my life x

  11. Lulu says

    I am SO much calmer when there is no visible clutter! Walking into a clean kitchen with clear benches in the morning makes it that little bit easier to deal with the chaos that whirlwind toddlers can create in an instant
    (where DO they get the energy?). I really notice the difference if I don’t do a tidy before bed. I think of it as being kind to my “future” self. Now I’m off to put those pans away!

  12. says

    I love the idea of ‘tidy as you go’ – and have tried to implement exactly what you said… but alas, it’s not that simple in my house. I get crash-tackled by toddler tornadoes from all directions. Very timely that I should read this tonight, as I’ve just finished writing about my big declutter! You’re inspiring me as usual, Kelly. x

  13. says

    I feel the need to tidy as I go. I worked at maccas in high school & the rule they taught us was “clean as you go” & “if you’ve got time to lean you’ve got time to clean”. Now days I never have time to lean. I do tidy as I go though. However it does feel like chasing my tail round & round & round….

    I think my thinking is that I don’t want to get caught out by a drop in visitor with a floor covered in clothes & toys… however like a few others said.. there is never a drop in visitor haha!