Archive for cleaning

How a messy person can learn to be neat

Welcome to 2021.  I hope you have challenges you conquer, joys you share and fun to revitalize yourself.

I am a naturally organized person.  It comes very easily to me. Many people find getting and staying organized difficult.  You will enjoy reading my guest blogger’s article on how to become neat by Sophia Perry of Arizona Moving Professionals.

Trust me when I tell you that a messy person can learn to be neat. As a former slob who daily transferred a ginormous pile of semi-dirty clothes from bed (when it’s sleep time) to the work desk, and vice versa, I can tell you, you too can transform. I don’t even know how it used to get to the point of having almost the entire content of my wardrobe on the bed. But it did.

And the story doesn’t end there. The most frustrating thing was the laundry. I wash one round. While it dries, the second is being washed. I still haven’t folded the first one, and the second is drying. Soon there is the third round. And the rest of my wardrobe is now clean but wrinkled beyond recognition, on an armchair waiting for something to happen. And when I finally get round to dealing with those mountains of clothes, I end up with a closet so messy that I don’t even know what clothes I have. I wish I could say these were my greatest issues, but… There were also dishes. Technically, the situation was the same as with the laundry. It’s just that I never managed to empty the dishwasher, so new dirty dishes piled up in the sink, and… Well, you get the picture. However, there is help! Much like the 12-step program, here too, there are steps to take to get on the path of tidiness.

1. Designate a place for each and every item you possess.

After a long day at work, believe me, I understand the tiredness. But don’t drop your pants, key, and shoes wherever you see fit and leave them lying there until you need them again. If you know that shoes belong in the hallway, keys on a peg next to the door, and jeans in the closet, go put them there. Repeat every day. It will start feeling normal. It will become an automatic thing.

2. Eyes on the prize – visualize the outcome and work on the road to get there.

To stay motivated, it’s vital to be realistic. Start small. Set a few attainable goals every day, and cross them off the list once you’ve done them. The crossing off will create a feeling of accomplishment and get you incentivized to keep going. It’s like training yourself. In addition to daily plans, start making weekly and monthly plans as well. Put them up on your fridge, so you remind yourself of what needs doing. It will bring some organization to your life.

Motivation can come unexpectedly. For example, once I heard a motivational speaker, whose name I can’t recollect, say: “If your bed is a mess, your life is a mess.” He explained that it’s his morning routine that makes him successful. He gets up, works out, and makes his bed. Making the bed is a task he completed early in the morning. So he set himself for success. He already accomplished something. Needless to say, I have made a habit of making my bed every morning now.

Set small goals every day and cross them off the list. It will make you feel like you have accomplished something.

3. Stop with the hoarding.

Stop piling up clutter. Having too many things is what complicates the cleaning process. And not just that, to many items to wipe, move, dust are downright overwhelming. As Marie Kondo says, and I’m paraphrasing – if it doesn’t make you happy, get rid of it. Also, if you haven’t used it for a long time – get rid of it. If you don’t need it – you’ve guessed it, it goes out. Finally, don’t accumulate sentimental knickknacks. Don’t get attached to things. They are just things. Many have fallen into this trap. If you don’t enjoy, need, or use something, lose it. A messy person can learn to be neat if they learn to declutter mercilessly! I have come to despise ornaments with no purpose, just because they add to the cleaning time. And time is precious.

Moreover, clutter can get in the way of productivity. Therefore, tidying up your workspace is very important. This is especially crucial if you work from home. There are already too many distractors. And several dirty coffee mugs, a mountain of clothes on your chair, dirty socks on the floor are not helpful. Also, too many things on your desk, such as purposeless ornaments, don’t make for a suitable working environment.

Clutter can get in the way of productivity. Keep your workspace tidy and organized.

4. Simplify cleaning.

How can cleaning be simplified, you wonder? Well, simple. Organize your home so that it’s easier to tidy. Decluttering is one way to do it. But you can do more. For instance, I’ve realized that curtains really make my life difficult. So I got rid of them and replaced them with zebra blinds. They are stylish, modern, and, most importantly, easy to maintain. There is no washing, ironing, hanging. Just occasional wipe with a wet cloth and a bit of dusting. Good quality ones are antistatic, so even dusting is optional. Think of the areas in your home that cause you the most headaches, and figure out ways to make them more manageable.

5. It all boils down to making new habits.

Make yourself do something, even the smallest thing, every day. Not every week or every few days, but every single day. The point is to make it a habit to keep your home neat and tidy. If tidiness doesn’t come instinctively, you must train yourself. Basically, repeat until it’s a routine. Every time you leave a room, try to leave it better than you found it. Put a thing or two away. As you cook, put dirty dishes in the dishwasher as soon as you are done with them. Wipe the surface the second you spill something. Don’t let things get really filthy. So big cleaning will be less frequent.

If tidying up doesn’t come instinctively to you, make a habit of it.

A messy person can learn to be neat

Some people call it a creative mess. Some say they can only function in chaos. They claim they can’t find anything if their home is tidy. But is it really true? Or are those excuses? Old habits are hard to break, but a messy person can learn to be neat. It’s essential to change self-image. You are not a slob or a lazy person – you need to purge. Rid yourself of clutter and bad habits. Finally, make positive associations with cleaning. Listen to music or an audiobook. That way, an unpleasant, mundane task will become something more enjoyable.

Let me help you to leave your messy self behind. Book a 30-minute complimentary virtual organizing assessment.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She has been working with clients since 2006 to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She uses her love of physical activity to reduce clutter, in your home, office, mind and time. If you’re in a difficult transition Julie can coach you to break-free of emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. Get started by downloading Tips for Reorganizing 9 Rooms.

Contact her at

 TwitterFacebook Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space

Click here to learn more about working with a Professional Organizer?

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Quarantine Relief: When Cleaning and Organizing Become an Escape

With spring arriving people are beginning to think about cleaning and freshening up their homes.  I enjoy organizing but cleaning? My guest blogger, Magda  Rae, Editor-in-Chief of Vintage Cash Cow,  loves cleaning and is here to help us get a fresh start.

Due to the self-isolation protocols necessitated by the COVID-19 coronavirus, millions of people are spending more time at home than they are used to. Some have enjoyed the freedom and an opportunity to relax, while others are quickly becoming restless and are looking to stay productive.

If you are searching for a way to escape the frustration of quarantine and keep busy amid the pandemic, cleaning your home could provide the perfect solution. A good spring clean will give you a great feeling of accomplishment, while also helping your family to stay safe at a time when hygiene has become crucial! Cleaning even has plenty of proven benefits for your general health, which is important when you need to keep your immune system healthy. Here is how to get stuck in and perform the home deep-clean of a lifetime.

The Health Benefits of Cleaning

Photo by Samantha Gades, Unsplash

Interestingly, spring cleaning also has several science-backed benefits for your mental and physical well being. According to a Scottish health survey, the practice can reduce stress and anxiety by up to 20%, as long as you spend at least 20 minutes cleaning. Clutter can also add to your stress and lower work productivity, but science says that a clean and neat desk can actually make you more productive in the long run.

Dust and pet dander can aggravate allergies and hay fever, but cleaning can help to reduce symptoms of asthma and chest tightness. A study from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin has also revealed that cleaning your home can improve your mood and even alleviate some of the symptoms of depression. Clearly, now is an excellent time to get out the scrubbing brush and the vacuum cleaner.Cleaning your home can improve your mood and even alleviate some of the symptoms of depression. Click To Tweet

Taking Advantage of the Extra Time

Photo by Volha Flaxeco, Unsplash

The current pandemic has presented the perfect conditions for a proper deep clean of your home. Many of us are now in unique positions where we have far fewer daily obligations to worry about than usual. This means that you can really get stuck in, move furniture around, and spread out as you clean. Now is the perfect time to get stuck into those jobs that you have been putting off for years!

You can begin by sweeping your walkways, patio, exterior windows, light fittings and patio furniture. From there, you can move on to washing the interior windows of your home, cleaning out cupboards and pantries, and deep-cleaning appliances and sinks. These are all easy tasks that you could rope your children into to keep them busy as well.

Making a List

Photo by Andy Fitzsimon, Unsplash

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of cleaning, why not make a list for yourself? Write down a wishlist of all the things you would like to clean and tidy up, starting with those tasks that are a top priority for you. Many experts find that cleaning bit by bit is more effective than doing the whole house at once. Take your time, and begin with the rooms or areas of your home that need the most attention.

You could also devise a calendar for cleaning to help keep your routine organized. For example, Mondays could be bathroom cleaning days, Wednesdays could be dedicated to vacuuming, and Saturdays could be laundry days. This is a fantastic way to incentivize children to chip in with the cleaning too. If they do all of the weekly chores on the calendar you set out for them, you could offer them a treat or extend their leisure time as a reward. There is no better time to teach your children about the value of teamwork and cleanliness, so we recommend making the most of it.

Take Inspiration from Marie Kondo

Photo by Nathan Fertig, Unsplash

Is your home feeling unnecessarily cluttered? Perhaps it’s time to assess whether or not your possessions are functional, useful, or bring you joy. Marie Kondo’s famous technique includes picking up an item and deciding whether or not having it in your life brings you happiness. If not, put it aside to sell, donate to charity, or pass on to someone who will appreciate it. You may well find that if you sell your unwanted vintage jewelry, appliances, books and other items that you no longer use, you’ll pocket a sizable sum of money.

Again, you can also get your kids involved in this process. Many people think that children would want to hold onto everything they own, but Marie Kondo says that this simply isn’t the case a lot of the time. Remember, things don’t have to be in poor condition for you to pass them along to a new home. Charity stores are always grateful for goods in near-new condition!

Keep Cleaning Fun

Cleaning can be a fantastic escape, especially during lockdown. However, for some, this can be an arduous task – so make it fun! Put on your favorite music, rope in your family, and dance or sing as you work. Remember not to work yourself too hard, and to take regular breaks as you see fit.

You can also take before and after photographs of your efforts to incentivize yourself and show off on social media. Some people have even taken to making TikToks of their cleaning work to show the world just how powerful a deep clean can be!

A Good Way to Get Through Tough Times

No matter what your approach may be, the trick to enjoying cleaning and using it as an escape is to make it an enjoyable and rewarding activity that you can look back on with pride.

Need help with your cleaning and organizing project? Book a 30-minute complimentary virtual organizing assessment.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Julie can coach you to break-free of the physical or emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. 

Contact her at

 TwitterFacebook Facebook group Organizing Mind and Space

Click here to learn more about working with a Professional Organizer?


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Sage Home Organizing Advice from 1961. Could it possibly work in 2016?



I was given article by Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant that was from 1961 in the Toronto Daily Star.  It is advice to a new bride on how to keep the honeymoon going forever by keeping her home neat and tidy with organization and know how. It was a delight to read.

Here are some highlights

  1. “Because you are working there is little time for housekeeping chores so they must be done consistently.  If you  get in the habit of leaving things until later the apartment will soon be a mess an you’ll be frazzled and bad tempered.”
  2. “Enlist your husband.  With a working wife he will likely be only too glad to pitch in for a few minutes a day”
  3. “Plan a grocery list.  Bridegrooms are usually helpful if you can plan the shopping for Thursday or Friday night or during the day on Saturday.”

Forming habits and sharing responsibilities are good advise for then and now. 

The article continues by describing a way to stay organized.  We can learn a lot from this writer in 1961.

Have a daily cleaning schedule.

It helps to have habits so work gets done without having to put much thought or energy into it.  Making beds, tidying up dirty dishes, clean up messes as they happen.  But do you need to quickly dust , including pictures with a special cloth with the polish already in it, wipe off the stove, refrigerator and counter tops?

Silver had to be polished regularly to keep it looking clean and shiny

Silver had to be polished regularly to keep it looking clean and shiny

The next thing in the article talks about things to take care of every 2-3 days. 

If you have a list of things that need to be done once or twice a week it makes it easier to stay on top of things instead of spending a lot of time on the tasks later.   Do laundry, sweeping/mopping the floor, taking out the trash or recycling.  But do you need to polish several pieces of silver 2 to 3 times a week or clean the bathroom thoroughly?

Scheduling things weekly makes it easy to give others a chance to take responsibility for keeping the home organized.

Planning menus for the next week can make grocery shopping easy and more economical.  Anyone can make supper if the menu is planned and the food is available.  Carpet cleaning companies suggest vacuuming rugs once a week to extend the life of your carpets.  Perhaps doing your laundry is a once a week task.  Checking the refrigerator to see what food needs to be used before it goes bad will also save you money.  But do you have to mend the socks for the man of the house, get the dry cleaning ready, wax the kitchen floor, clean the oven including the racks or change the sheets?

To keep floors shiny they needed to be waxed and you couldn't walk on the floor until the wax was dry.

To keep floors shiny they needed to be waxed and you couldn’t walk on the floor until the wax was dry.

Think about the things that should be done twice a month.

For some people it is grocery shopping, changing the beds, cleaning the house, repairing things that are broken.  Make a list that suits you and keep up with your organizing. But do you need to clean the windows, clean out your appliances or clean out your coffee maker regularly?

What would be good to do once a month? 

Perhaps you would want to do more extensive cleaning in one room each month.  Cleaning walls, window coverings, windows , blankets or furnace filters  .  If you spread out the work over a year, you will have cleaned each room by the end of the year but  you will never have to spend a lot of time all at once.  No need for a spring or fall cleaning blitz that can cause people to procrastinate because the job seems so big and  overwhelming.  Some people like to do food preparations, browning meats, dicing and freezing vegetables and / or baking once a month to make food preparation on a daily basis easier.  You may decide to organize an area of your home each month.   Some of these monthly tasks that may take minutes,  some may take a couple of hours.  Plan what works for you. But do you need to oil the furniture  or take down and wash the fixture?

Furniture needed to be oiled to protected it from drying out and cracking.

Furniture needed to be oiled to protected it from drying out and cracking.

Lastly look at things that only need to be done twice a year. 

Perhaps they are seasonal tasks.  Put way or get out patio furniture, toys, car tires,bikes etc.  But do you need to wash rugs, clean Venetian blinds or take all the clothes out of your closet and give them a good cleaning and airing?

The interesting thing about this article written in 1961 is how much things have not changed.  A lot of things they suggested to do daily, weekly monthly or yearly have not changed. Doing a little each day, week, month or year makes it easier to stay organized.  Having the tasks scheduled makes it easier to avoid procrastination. Although we hardly ever use silver, we have self defrosting refrigerators and self cleaning appliances, we don’t do a lot of ironing, we have now added to our schedules, software and hardware maintenance, cleaning more than one vehicle, pools, lawns, etc.

Cleaning Schedule / Organizing Schedule

When my mom died my sister made a cleaning schedule for my dad.  It was similar to the ideas in this article.  It was based on what needs to be cleaned each week and then one additional thing to clean each week which changed each week, and then a thing to do each month with each month different.  By the end of the year the entire house, walls, drapes, cupboards, baseboards, appliances had been cleaned with only a little extra effort need once a month.

Some of you may sit down and make a list of things to do each day week, month, semi annually and annually.  For others make the lists as you go.  At the end of the year you will have good ideas of how to schedule cleaning and  maintenance tasks to have a life that runs  smoothly and leaves more time for fun, joy and happiness.

What things did your parents or grandparents do, that you still do, to keep your life and home running smoothly?

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at


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