Tuesday, July 29, 2008

house keeping tip # 4

(h/t quimby)

use a basket.

folks. me and mr. mfranti are notorious surface abusers. you'll not find another couple in the state who can take a flat surface and fill it with crap faster that we can. no surface is sacred.

now, we can all clear of the clutter in seconds and make the counters, kitchen table, desk look good but it usually requires another pile, somewhere typically out of site of visitors. so even though the kitchen, for example, looks neat and tidy, it usually means the basement looks like a super fund site.

first step in conquering clutter is to make sure everything has a home. this should be easy because if an item is important/useful/necessary, it will automatically have a home.

now to the basket. buy yourself, or reuse, a medium sized basket. not too big or else it becomes overwhelming and heavy and not too small or it's ineffective.

go into a room, say your front room, and fill up the basket. don't leave until the basket is full. now put stuff away starting with the room closest to your location. make sure that you put the item in its home. no exceptions. if you can't find a home for it, leave it in the basket and move on to the next room ending in the back of the house or on another floor. continue until the basket is empty or until you only have "homeless" items left over.

if you've done this correctly, you should be at the other end of the house or top or bottom floor. throw out the homeless items. you've walked through almost every room in your house, and didn't find a home for them so they are probably not important.

feels good doesn't it? it was easy, efficient and it didn't take much time.

what? why didn't you think of that years ago?

i don't know.

still feeling good? great. go fill up the basket again and repeat the process moving to the other end of the house.

be smart. do this daily and you will feel empowered by how much control you can maintain over the clutter.


  1. I used to try this using a laundry basket. It didn't work for very long. I think I'm a little too lazy.

  2. lessie,

    the problem, imo, is the basket is too big and deep.

    that's why i prefer to use a not deep, medim sized basket, something that can fit a pair or two of shoes, and other little random misplaced articles.

    if you can see the bottom of the basket as you put stuff away, it makes you think you are accomplishing something.

    you are playing a mind game with the stuff in the basket.

    also, when you look around the room and notice space on your surfaces, you feel like you've made progress.

    any of this make sense?

  3. I use baskets just to store stuff. They're super cheap at DI and I pick some up every few months. Having a place to store stuff to begin with makes it so that we don't have to carry stuff around looking for a place to put it very often. And stuff. :)

  4. Good idea, Chandelle. And cheap baskets from DI are much better looking than the diaper boxes I've been using :)

  5. well...you're reusing either way, i guess. :)

  6. "Having a place to store stuff to begin with makes it so that we don't have to carry stuff around looking for a place to put it very often."

    if you are good about picking up after yourself, each day then you don't have to worry about clutter, right?

    but if you are like me, and lazy, and don't put anything away except every few months, the clutter...builds til it's intolerable.

    welcome to the dark side of mfranti.

  7. oh...and i use baskets for storage too.

    and remember, if something is useful it will already have a home so i'm not walking around my house inventing places to put something that i don't know what to do with.

    it goes in the trash or donated.


  8. My friends make fun of all my baskets . . .

    mfranti, I took my own advice yesterday and did this, and was very surprised at how nice the house looked afterwards. Funnily enough if it wasn't for the basket thing I never would've found a package a friend sent - there was this big box sitting in the living room next to the coffee table (whoops, can Mormons have coffee tables?) when I got home, and I just assumed it was either an old box that my husband was getting ready to burn, or that it was a package for him, since he's constantly getting packages. Imagine my surprise when I was picking things up and saw my name on it!

    I was so inspired by your posts, by the way, that I finally got around to folding and putting away those three loads of laundry too.

  9. quimby,

    mr mfranti teases me about the piles and how he doesn't notice them. it's as if they are an architectural element.

    so it's no wonder you missed the package.

  10. folks, i've hit the big time.

    quimby, of fmh fame, is commenting on my little blog AND admitting that I inspired her.


    it's a good day.

  11. Yes. I'm so famous, I'm starting my world tour next week. Look for tickets at major ticket outlets everywhere, but be warned, seats in the "nosebleed" section start at $500.

  12. My mother could never master baskets, but when unexpected guests, usually visiting or home teachers showed up, she'd shove everything on the kitchen counters into the oven. (It has shelves and a door, right?) Then, she'd invariably forget. Good thing someone invented fire alarms.

  13. Currently, though, I have a "GeeBee." He seems to believe that inanimate objects have little houses that they live in-- you know, their own place? Very confusing. He puts said objects in said place ALL THE TIME. Since the objects and places don't have, say, matching addresses, I remain confused.

  14. As I feel rather less dizzy than I have in ages, in spite of my name, I feel free to leave another completely unnecessary (and possibly slighty offensive) comment. To keep a house clean, find yourself an Englishman. Install in house. Pay no attention to said Brit's bewildered looks as you disobey every rule mummy taught him.

  15. Found this through FMH. I love this tip. I'll have to use it when I'm cleaning tomorrow :)

  16. Oops. Yes, it's Tonya. I guess I use 2 code names. This little trick is going to make it feel like I don't spend my entire day cleaning. I'll just do 1-2 basketfulls. Thanks a million.
    You're pretty good at guess who.

  17. tonya,

    you'll have to tell me how it worked for you.


    oh, a geebee would be so nice to have. i love my sweetheart but he makes my life difficult when it comes to cleaning. a pack rat they call them.

    are all artists pack rats?

  18. i do this. the kids have toy baskets downstairs (because toys love to migrate down from the playroom) and I have a "put away later" basket.

    I am quite certain my DH and I could give you and MrFranti a run for your money in a head-to-head filling up flat surfaces with crap competition, though. David has even tried to think of ways to design things on a slant so we can't stack stuff.

  19. mindy, a chronic surface abuse too, eh?

    oh the piles. i can't ever sit at our very tiny kitchen table because of the piles.

    so i put a table and chairs outside on the porch to eat on.

    don't know how that will work in the winter.

  20. geebee is an artist but not a pack rat. There are other problems associated with this. I have had to train him, carefully, to live in a house that is nOT Not NoT oppressively neat. But, I've succeeded! It helps that his last wife was a scarey Nazy Norwegian neat freak (as opposed to his personal scarey Surrey neat freakness) --- but he still almost broke up with me over the issue of, uh, what he would call disaster and I would call the stuff that happens in a house. We've come to a mutual understanding, by some miracle.


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