I’ve got this crazy notion that comes partly from living in a space that is basically one big giant room (a loft). The house has been a little messy lately, and no matter what we do, it’s just not coming back to a state of “organized” lately. So I’ve got this thought. Bear with me. I think it could be useful to anyone’s house if you’re feeling that you can’t seem to reset, and that clutter is dominating your time.
Prework: buy some totes like Rubbermaid 18 Gallon or similar, and some housecleaning products, big trash bags, and some beer and pizza.
Move Out, Move In
- Clear One Room Out Totally– You heard me. Move everything out of one room, down to the walls and the floor. Unplug everything. Remove it all. Pretend a bomb blasted that room, worker elves came, and now here’s what you have left.
- Clean the Room – Clearly, you can never get to all the dust and grime that sneaks in around things. Give it a good scrubbaroo while there’s nothing to get in your way. Pretend this is your first “real” place after college. Make it sparkle.
- Replace Things Sparingly– Going with the bomb blast idea, what do you think you might be able to live without? Try storing that in the Rubbermaid totes and sticking that in your attic / garage / storage space with a big fat HUGE label that details the contents of the box and the “shelf life” of the things you put in there (the date you started determining if you could do without them).
- Arrange Your House for Living and Function– As time goes on, we put things in places because that’s where they’ve always been. How might you redesign your spaces to be more social, more work-functional? Maybe this is the right time to swap out that pressboard computer desk monstrosity for a wall-attached bar-style top where you can do work, the kids can do homework, and the cat can perch and knock things off. BONUS TIP: stop designing your house around guests. Unless you have LOTS of guests, design it for you, and have a plan for guests.
- Donate / Yardsale / Ebay / Remove– Be merciless with what you toss. Remember moving out of an apartment (maybe after college, or fairly recently)? It’s amazing how much stuff we jettison at that moment. The things we own end up owning us: our time, our effort, our consideration. Whatever you can clear, do it. Move it out. Give it to people who can use it.
I think this covers enough for you to get the premise. Try moving out of your house, one room at a time. Pretend a bomb has decimated the place and this is your chance to rebuild the living arrangements. Clean thoroughly while you have the chance. Design your spaces to work for you. And let us know how this works out.
— Chris Brogan is tempted to take vacation time to try this hack out on his own place. He develops creative content in the least cluttered of the corners for Grasshopper Factory. Please let us know what you think of the podcast. We’re anxious to hear your opinions. Send email to tips at lifehack dot org, or leave a comment on the site. Finally, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed, so we can gauge the audience better. And if you’ve got some tips and tricks, try out Leon’s newly added WIKI. It’s easy to edit, and makes a great reference for the best of these tips and ideas.