Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Around the house

I struggle daily to cope with the tension between my internal desire for order and my external distaste for cleaning. Strangely, I am very much the type of guy who believes that there should be a place for everything and that everything should be in its place. But I am not the guy who knows where those places are or actually puts those things there.

This has been a problem, to varying degrees, for my entire life. When I was a kid and my mom would tell me to clean up my room, I would protest that the floor was only messy because it was effectively the biggest shelf I had. When I went to college, I think my roommate (bless his heart) occasionally humored me by messing up his stuff so I didn't feel too bad. I was able to keep order, for the most part, in my room at the fraternity house and my first apartment, but there were extenuating circumstances in both cases--specifically, the room at the fraternity house was so small that it wasn't possible to fit anything into which could make it messy, and when I moved into the apartment I was just starting law school, so I didn't own enough stuff to make anything messy.

Now I'm married to a wonderful woman who, I'm afraid, suffers the same organizational deficiencies as me. Actually, that's not entirely correct--she has plenty of organizational skills that I don't, not the least of which is the ability to actually conceive, plan, and prepare a meal. But in terms of getting things picked up and put away, we are both something less than proficient.

This is problematic enough in its own right, but with a baby on the way I'm feeling extra pressure to "grow up" and "be responsible." Here are a few of the things I'm trying to do to rectify this situation. This is by no means an exhaustive list, of course. Just a few ideas.
  • I got an old Roomba and have ordered a replacement battery. Most of our house is carpet, but running this on the kitchen's linoleum regularly should help keep down on dog-hair dust bunnies.
  • Along the same lines, I received a FURminator for Christmas. The FURminator's slogan is "Because your pet's hair looks better in the trash can than on your furniture." Amen to that. I've only had it for a week, but I am very impressed without how effective the FURminator is.
  • I've gone through my closet and gotten rid of some stuff that I don't wear anymore. It's been bagged and will be taken to a shelter downtown. I've also replaced our cheap wire hangers with some slightly more sturdy plastic ones. Stronger hangers will help ensure things stay on the rack and in their place.
  • I'm trying the eChef software to organize recipes. I don't intend to get rid of our cookbooks, but we subscribe to a couple of food magazines (Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Food+Wine) and have plenty of them hanging around because we like one or two recipes in each issue (and haven't been motivated enough to cut them out and paste them into cookbooks). Hopefully this software will not only reduce some clutter, but help us organize healthy meals at home and create shopping lists.
  • On the financial front, I have moved over entirely to electronic billing. No more statements in the mail. I receive emails advising me whenever a bill has been sent. Recurring bills (such as phone and internet) are paid automatically. For other bills I immediately mark my calendar two days ahead of the due date. I also download all my transactions into Quicken every week so I can make sure everything is accurate and see what we're spending our money on.
  • I've made a commitment to going through the mail every day as soon as I get home. Most of it can get recycled immediately, but to be honest I'm not yet sure what to do with some of the other stuff. Usually it gets tossed on the kitchen island or dining room table, which is obviously not a working solution. I realize that many sites like Unclutterer recommend not going through the mail daily, but rather waiting until there's a critical mass. But in my experience, critical mass isn't achieved until there's a stack about twelve feet high.
There are others, but that's a good start for today. I'll be sure to let you know how I'm doing.

No comments: