Blessed are the Neat Freaks


I have a really dumb problem. I am not good at cleaning, as far as straightening up a disorganized mess. Some people in my family and my friends don’t think twice about attacking a room or area full of clutter and cleaning it up to a noticable difference in just a half hour or so. Me, I get overwhelmed right from the beginning. I wont know where to start, I’ll take forever to do it and the result will be less impressive than those who can do it in 30 minutes. Any advice?:confused:


This is not a dumb problem. Many people are organizationally challenged, me among them.
What has helped me a lot is this site: She shows you how to get control of your house, etc in a very kind, nonjudgmental way.
As far as how to tackle a mess, I always divide it up into groups. For the kids rooms, I’ll pick up all the clothes first, then the toys, then the books, etc. Or if it’s the basement, get three boxes, label them “Belongs somewhere else,”, “throw away”, or “give away.” Pick up one item, put it into one of the boxes, then go on to the next.
Flylady also suggests doing this in 15 minute increments, so you don’t burn out. I really recommend her website, it’s a lifesaver.
Don’t worry, there are millions of folks with this problem.


my advice: just do it. Just do the work. I can be considered one of the messiest persons on this planet but when there’s a mess I can clean it in a jiffy. Why? Because I’ve been doing it for so long, whereas my sis is very slow. She’s just starting to clean, whereas I’ve been doing it for a long time. So again, my advice would be: just do it and don’t think about it too much. Even a little bit is a big step when you’re just starting.


. . . for maybe one of them will come over to my house and clean up for me.

I found out a few years ago, in conjunction with diagnostic tests for another problem, that I am ADHD, have been all my life (as are 2 of my kids and 4 of my grandkids). boy does that explain a lot. the solutions are surprisingly common sensical.

for instance, I now only keep one calendar, rather than one on Outlook, one on my cell phone, one on my desk, one on the kitchen wall, etc. etc. Just one calendar with all info, in my purse, so I always have it with me. It is the size of half a sheet of paper, so bulletins, invitations, notices etc. fit in the back with a rubber band around them, so I always have directions on how to get to the place I entered in the calendar. I toss the old sheets once a week.

I have ONE basket to collect mail and bills, rather than multiple collection spots. it is on the dryer. works for me wouldn’t for you, because I gather the mail from the box, enter the house through the garage, stop at the dryer, immediately toss junk mail, catalogs etc. in the trash can, and put the rest in the basket (actually a plastic dishpan from the dollar store). When I collect laundry from the dryer I bring the dishpan in, sort the mail into 3 baskets in my room (where I will be folding the laundry) of bills to pay, stuff to file, and stuff to read (magazines etc.)… When the basket goes back out, so does the dishpan.

I store things in clear plastic boxes from the dollar store, not cardboard boxes, so I can always see what is inside, yet shelves are always neat.

I put away all knicknacks and dustcatchers, have only one picture of each family, rather than gazillions of grandkids pictures around. They are displayed on one wall. i am still surrounded by books, although I gave away 75 boxes when we moved. I keep only what I will read or use as reference. yes I finally got rid of college textbooks from the 70s.

I have things I need in the room where I will use them. So I have multiple pairs of scissors, staplers, tape etc.–in the bedroom, office, kitchen, and livingroom desk.

I have cleaning supplies in the room where they will be used, so I have no excuse not to clean up a mess immediately. Spray cleaner and bowl cleaner with brush in each bathroom, disposable dusters and swifter in each room, or the nearest closet. For other people, what works is one totable basket with cleaning supplies to take from room to room, for me, this works.

Get rid of clutter, get rid of stuff.

I ruthlessly culled closets, I hang all my slacks together, all skirts, all dresses, all jumpers, jackets, tops etc. and by color and in this order:
black, brown, navy, blue, purple, red, pink, yellow, tan or beige, green. I only have one item of each color. My shoes are in a row on the closet floor in the same order. I only have one pair of the 3-4 colors I wear most often: black, brown, tan, taupe, navy, plus athletic shoes.
If I have not worn it for a year, it goes to St. Vincent. I have one jacket, one raincoat (don’t need a winter coat here), one hoodie.
I organize drawers the same way, so I can find clothes even in the dark. It takes about 5 minutes longer to sort and put away laundry, and saves hours in the morning.

I don’t have kids to look after and DH has his own closet (except my seasonal clothing and seldom worn dress clothes go there), so I don’t have the extra hassles a lot of you have, but kids can be trained to take care of their own clothes by the time they are 10 or so.

for disorganized people downsizing and simplifying are critical. we simply cannot function when there is too much stuff around.


Mom? What are you doing here?

Just kidding. I grew up with a mom just like this, and I still love her. I second flylady’s website. She also has a book I like called, Sink Reflections. My sister and I are always working on our mom to help her. She may be too set in her ways and she couldn’t embrace any of Flylady’s ideas. Oh well. I clean her house for her sometimes when my dad is out of town. BTW, my dad is a neat freak and they’ve been happily married over 40 years!

Puzzleannie’s suggestions are right on the mark. For a lot of people, cleaning is overwhelming because there is just too much stuff!


First of all, stop comparing yourself to your friends and family. It does not matter to your home how quickly someone else can clean unless they are willing to come clean for you.

Second, just start straightening. For me, the easiest way to clean a messy or cluttered room is to take everything that is in disarray and put it in a big pile in the center of the room. For instance, if I am cleaning the living room/dining room (one big room in my house), I take all the mail, the dog toys, the books, and whatever is on the tables and floor and sweep them into one pile. Psychologically, it means I am no longer cleaning that huge room-- just that one pile of stuff. I sort the mail (I have the recycle bin next to me, so all junk mail that somehow made it into the house as well as old magazines and other paper can go right outside. Trash goes straight to a trashbag, and other stuff to be put away gets sorted by where it needs to go (books into a pile to be put on the shelves, dog toys to go into their box, etc). After that, it is a matter of straightening sofa cushions and vacuuming the floor. When I do it that way, I am not nearly as overwhelmed.

I know that when I look at a messy room I am tempted to just turn my back and ignore it because the prospect of cleaning the whole room (forget about the whole HOUSE!) gets overwhelming. If I go one pile at a time, as described above, I find I quickly have the whole job finished in a relatively short time (especially considering how long it would take if I kept ignoring it all).


years ago when kids were still at home, Don Aslett was a regular on our local TV morning show, and he had, and has, great ideas on cleaning and organizing our home like a professional, and had I may add great respect for housekeeping as a profession. I adopted his ideas and still use them to this day (and did so when I cleaned for a living between jobs and in hard times).

He has several books, and probably a website by now.

Basically, keep dirt out of the house: large size dirt trapping mats at all doors, change from outdoor shoes to houseshoes, proper furnace/ac filters, proper working vacuum and filters, vacuum the pets etc.
remove dirt, don’t just move it around or scatter it back into the air
eliminate clutter and simplify
teach kids early how to do chores properly and give them responsibilities and acknowledge them when they fulfull those.
only keep in the home and at hand what is used and needed immediately. store seasonal things including kitchen stuff and clothing, but store properly and where you can find them.

I started and still have (updated from time to time when we move) a simple chore file, and corresponding shopping file, color coded by week. it is 4x6 index cards filed in a dollar store photo file, the kind with individual plastic sleeves that flip up.
I divide chores by rooms, and into weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual tasks.

this way I do one room thoroughly each week, but also daily cleaning of kitchen and bathroom so they never get really gross.(less than 10 minutes each)
It also gives me a quickie routine when company is on the way (10 minutes).

I used this when I had a weekly cleaning lady (during lengthy recovery from surgery) which of course is optional but who can afford it?

I also have a grocery shopping file with weekly, monthly and quarterly purchases. That of course has changed over the years depending on who is at home, job schedule, and what diet I am on at the time, but the principle is the same, I have it in my purse, keep my place with a paper clip, and always know what to buy. When I find I am not using something up, say milk, I change the frequency or drop it altogether. I have not run out of anything critical in years, and it frees memory brain cells for more important things, like the plot of the book I am reading at the time.

by the way, I know the reason I keep tabletops cluttered, that way subliminally I know I don’t have to dust until I put the stuff away.


. . . for maybe one of them will come over to my house and clean up for me.

Amazingly, I have a friend who likes nothing better than tidying my house. She was over yesterday, so my fridge is organized and the tool/computer area has been decluttered.

She’s a marvel. We have a symbiotic relationship- I feed her (she’s not a baker and I bake frenetically) and she tidies.

I really am less untidy than I used to be. Everyone else’s suggestions are good. Start small, and tidy only one or two things at a time. Give yourself set amounts of tim (say, half an hour) and set a timer. Give yourself permission to stop after the allotted time, and take a break.


I’m the same way, and I have a very large bedroom.

I sort of divide it up into sections and work clockwise - center of the room, closet area, dresser area, book area, computer area, foreign language reading/dry erase board area, bed area, gaming/TV area. Still takes me 1-2 hours.


Wow. Does she want to visit Southern California? I’ll bake for her…


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