I want to be a “neater” person

I have never been what you would describe as “neat” (and by neat, I mean organized and orderly, not cool and keen, although one could say the same thing for the second descriptor).

As a child, I drove my mother to move my bedroom from the top of the stairs, where she could see the chaos when she came upstairs, to the little bedroom at the end of the hall where I could be a slob in peace. (Because, let’s face it. Dirty laundry is like a gas – it fills the available space).

Fast forward to college and my poor roommate who, claimed to be messy during our initial conversations, but turned out to be strangely neat in captivity (the dorm). A crisp line of laundry and various other items divided our room in half – her side had hardwood floors, mine were made of socks, sweaters and the occasional sneaker.

I had read somewhere that creative people don’t clean – and that seemed good enough for me. I was a slob and it really didn’t bother me.

But as I get older I find that the chaos around me can no longer be contained, and it is growing exponentially. As with most things around here, where mom goes others follow.

It’s also stressing me out.

Of course it’s not as easy as saying I want to be neater – I’ve been overwhelmed with where, and how, to start.

Enter my friend Alex’s chair challenge to herself. The goal was simple – keep the chair in her room clean. Not all the chairs. Not all the rooms. Not everyone’s things. Her chair. In her room. Clear of her things. (I say simple, but let’s face it – it’s also super difficult).

Inspired, I’ve started my own version of the challenge – it’s a little more vague, but here it is…

Put away the thing I’m holding right now.

So, for example, at the end of the day instead of dropping my outfit on the floor, leaving my shoes in the bathroom, and my jewelry on the bureau, I am taking a few moments to put them away. Shoes and items that can be re-worn in the closet. Necklace and earrings away. Dirty laundry in the hamper.

I’m not trying to put away all the things. Just what I’m holding, right now.

It’s so simple, and yet so challenging for me. But as Alex noted recently, we keep doing things twice, wasting time and energy.

Take for example our new coffee machine (okay, don’t really take it, my husband might cut you). Each day we make coffee, rinse the pieces and then put them on the drying rack next to the sink, only to put the pieces away again when they dry.

But now, inspired by the chair and my new plan to put away what I’m holding right now, I’m skipping a step, leaving the pieces on the coffee maker.


(Isn’t it beautiful? I feel like Gretchen Rubin would approve).

It’s baby steps, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll start being a neater person with each thing I put away.

3 thoughts on “I want to be a “neater” person

  1. I think simplicity and scope are the keys to success.
    From my experience the voice that say, “just this one time…” is the most dubious of all the voices.


  2. I am absolutely there with you. And I am starting to see my daughter at least follow in my footsteps….so I am trying HARD to change my ways too. I love this idea – my other attempt for the moment is to set the timer for 10 mins before I sit down in the evening and straighten as much as I can. It’s amazing how much I can actually get done in 10 mins, even though it looms large in my mind and makes me feel like it will take hours!


  3. I am trying this too. I am starting with purging (donating usable stuff, freecycling, sellin and tossing) to clear clutter.

    It’s scientific. Clutter does make us stressed – women’s bodies create more cortisol in messy spaces.

    I have a long way to go. I am not (as “Sidetracked Home Executive” authors call) a BO (born organized). It will be work to become tidy. I will need to be very deliberate with what I allow to be brought into the house and be super cognizant of putting thing away immediately.

    Thanks for sharing your situation!


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