“Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday's homeopape. When nobody's around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there's twice as much of it. It always gets more and more.’ – Philip K. Dick.
Living in a clean and well-organized space doesn't just mean not tripping over shoes or loose toys on the way to the bathroom, it's also a crucial factor in one's mental state. And it's more than just picking up after yourself like Mum taught you, it's about having a space that is amenable to organization.
And no, the fight against entropy and mess is not a cosmic battle – there are simple solutions.
You can hire a cleaning service to take care of superficial mess, but without a solid foundation any spruce up is going to be a mere band-aid to an endemic organisational problem; and if you're like most and take cleaning into your own hands, you're going to be spending more time than it's worth cleaning up if you haven't got around to solving that messy bathroom storage problem, installing a wardrobe rather than employing a floordrobe.
So, let’s check out 10 unassailable rules that will set you on the road to a well-organized home and life.
Keep everything in its right place, and if, for example, that spare set of bed linen lives inside the closet next to the guest bedroom, air it out, give it a wash and put it back there – and not somewhere else – after your guests have left.
There are those that shove unopened mail into their kitchen pantry, but this is a recipe for organisational disaster. To avoid confusion, to avoid finding your hands filled with expired spices rather than that important bill, store similar items together. It's only logical.
Impulse purchases bedevil a house that aspires to organisation, and its not just hoarders that are susceptible. Before you binge on retail therapy, ask yourself these questions:
• Do I really need this?
• Where will I put it?
And then – the minimalist coup de grace –
• Can I do without?
If you answer “no” or “I don’t know” to the first two, or
yes to the last, then move on. You'll save space and money!
Back in his day, Plato railed against writing as a technology that would ruin memory. His point was that if we write stuff down we don't have to remember, and we'll lose our ability to recall events without help. The same general rule applies to the impulse to shore up memory with trinkets and souvenirs.
There's a place for the ars memoria – the art of memory – certain objects are too sacred to dispose of: your wedding dress, your child's first drawing perhaps. But those generic postcards from last year, every single one of the badly framed and focused holiday snaps?
Store some vital aids to memory in a neat file and keep them in a drawer or loft space, but otherwise be ruthless and slash and burn that stuff.
The floordrobe. Using the floor, a chair, or the bed as a makeshift wardrobe. We know the story: you've had a hard day and it's all you can do to get undressed and fall into bed or slump in front of the TV. But procrastination at this stage leads to panic the next morning, when you've got to do it all again.
Put the washing in the laundry bin, hang up your shirt or dress in your wisely invested-in closet, stash your shoes by the door. Spending a few minutes every evening dealing with that day’s clothing will make your life (and laundry day) so much easier.
Using a bunch of those clear-plastic, snap-lock plastic containers that can slide under the bed is a tried-and-tested storage solution, but even this tactic has its limitations.
First, reuse and recycle ready made storage – shoe boxes and toy bins – and tuck away storage in spaces that would otherwise be redundant: the ideal spot is under the stairs and the solution can be very attractive as well.
Whether it’s a credenza with drawers or an old cabinet in the hallway, commit to a single storage space that you regard as the command center. This will be the place for keys, wallets, bags, and other day-to-day necessities.
You’ll never have to run around the house looking for your sunglasses again!
… and stick to it. Moderate amounts of obsession and compulsion are healthy – we call this routine, and routines are the backbone of efficient home organisation, getting you from bed to breakfast to the door and out with minimal second-guessing and hesitation, for example
Once you get into the habit of putting things back where they belong, filing your papers, making your bed, etc., a clean and well-organised home will become second nature and indispensable.
Feeling inspired to become a master organizer? Start with the little things, like sorting through those papers in your home office. Then, move on to more involved projects like revamping your closet or repacking the kitchen pantry.
Starting small gives you a taste of the freedom that good organisation grants, and the immediate sense of accomplishment will motivate you to move on to bigger and brighter projects of domestic consolidation.
Remember that you should always be in control of your belongings, not the other way around. If this power structure reverses, there's trouble in paradise and you need to put your foot down and get ready with the elbow grease. Once you start and you set your mind to staying organised, it will become less and less of a chore.
With a solid foundation, it's no problem if you feel stressed or sick – you can give yourself a break knowing that your organised space and established routines will work on their own momentum, looking after themselves while you get back on your feet.
Let's get going!