How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind: Dealing with Your Home’s Dirty Little Secrets by Dana K. White of the “A Slob Comes Clean ” website and blog. Title link is to the sale page on her website and is not an affiliate link. I will be honest and say that the only reason I ran across the book (in its audio form, read by the author) was that it showed up in the “recommended for you” section on Hoopla, the public library app that I use quite a bit. Hmmm. Did Hoopla know something about me? I don’t really remember downloading any housecleaning books from them, but you never know.
And by the way, before I go any further (or farther–I never know which one to use): the word “slob” is her word, not mine.
Ho-kay. Now I can get on to what I think about this book:
Talk about twins separated at birth! That’s who this woman and I are. We don’t look very much alike, true, but boy oh boy do our minds work alike.
She was totally channeling me when she said [something to this effect–remember, I accessed this material via audiobook and so I can’t easily go back and find quotations]: “Sitting at your messy kitchen table reading about the best way to clean your house is not going to clean your house. You know what will clean your house? Cleaning your house.” How many, many times have I, over the years, sat at that very table reading that very material, hoping to find that very same magic pill? Too many to count. Someday, I’d find the formula, the secret, and I’d suddenly become consistent. But the only thing that produces consistent results is . . . consistency.
You’ll notice that in the above paragraph I repeated myself quite a bit, and that the ideas I repeated were very, very simple. That was deliberate, because that’s the style of this book. She’s going to tell you, over and over again, that you should wash your dishes every day. She’s going to tell you to fold your laundry right out of the dryer. She’s going to tell you that there have to be certain non-negotiable tasks that you do non-negotiably. Which means, unfortunately, that you do them whether you feel like doing them or not. She’ll tell you what happens when she doesn’t do these tasks. Then she’ll tell you again. You can go over to her blog if you’re so inclined, and you can watch her videos, and guess what? She’ll tell you what I’ve just told you that she’ll tell you.
And that’s okay. It’s more than okay, actually. It’s great. For those of us who struggle with this whole keep-the-house-picked-up-all-the-time kinda thing, it’s exactly what we need. Since listening to the audiobook I’ve been . . . getting the dishes into the dishwasher after every meal and folding the laundry right out of the dryer. Small, small accomplishments with great results.
She’s also great on the topic of de-cluttering. Two words here: easy and obvious. If you need some help in this area, she’ll give you permission to ignore that basement storage closet for now. She says, and she’s perfectly correct in this, that you can wear yourself out cleaning out a storage closet in some out-of-the-way place, and then you’ll close the door on that meticulous area, and guess what? All of your hard work is now hidden. No one is going to say, “Hey! I just went down to find lightbulbs in that closet and it looks so great!” But if your front hallway is piled so high that the artwork on the walls is covered, and you clean that area up, well, everyone notices. So do that first. And begin with just throwing out the trash. All those outdated catalogs and magazines? Just bag them up. You’ll be amazed at the results, and you’ll have the momentum to keep going.
Now you may be reading this and find yourself feeling very puzzled: “You mean that people need to be told these things? Don’t they just do them automatically? Why would anybody read a whole book about all this obvious stuff?” Dana calls these people “normal.” They don’t need to grit their teeth and say to themselves, ‘Yes, you have to clean up those few dishes. Yes, you have to do the laundry process all the way through. It has to go in a straight line from the dryer to the closets and drawers. No side trips for it to take a rest on the couch.’ (I said in an earlier post that my husband calls my normal process of getting the laundry put away, with its several back-and-forth trips from the bed to the dresser and back again, “exercising the laundry.”) It is perfectly true that if you fold the items or hang them up straight out of the dryer (note the repetition) and put them away, they just . . . disappear. (And remember, I’ve never had more than one child. And he’s out of the house. How much mess could the laundry for two people actually produce? Well, you might ask that if you’re normal. For us recovering slobs, the real answer is: quite a bit. Let it pile up, then do it sporadically and dump the basketfuls on the bed, and you’ll see.)
I’ve also taken Dana’s advice and ordered my copy of The Ultimate Weekly Planner. While I’ve written several posts about a couple of apps on my phone that I believed were going to help me keep track of my time and my tasks, I have to say that, in the end, they haven’t really done too much. A big part of the problem has to do with the whole digital-vs.-paper divide. You can’t sit down and flip through a Google calendar. You can’t easily see how the tasks for one day match up with those of another if you’re using the Todoist app on your phone. Etc. I think these digital helps are fine for some people, but when I read Dana’s review with video about her planner I knew that I really wanted one. If you order yours through her site you get $5 off (which I did) and she gets the credit for the referral. I think she deserves it! (Can you believe how many links there are in this one post to her website? I think it’s a record!)
Have to say that, while I’ve fallen madly in love with Dana as a person, I find her blog to be pretty . . . cluttered. And her search capabilities are very annoying. Howsomever that may be, though, you can’t fault her advice.
Well, no one can accuse me of a boring routine in the books I recommend. Last week’s pick was a serious examination of our current political situation; this week’s is a funny guide to keeping your house clean. Hey, they’re both important!