0. Don't have children. Or pets.
September 24, 2013 3:54 AM   Subscribe

"12. Get a large, 56-quart storage bin to designate as your “items to donate” box. It’ll be too big to fit in your car, so keep a box of trash bags next to it for easy bagging when you’re ready to make a Goodwill run. (Yes, the bags have to be next to it — if you leave the room to get them, you’ll be watching Youtube videos of funny kittens in two minutes. I don’t know how this happens. It just does.)" -- Twentyfive tips on how to organise your life if you're a lazy slob like me, courtesy of Jennifer Fulwiler.
posted by MartinWisse (116 comments total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
 
14. Keep your children ignorant of the concept of puzzles until at least age 10.

Considering my bedroom floor is now home to two (2) unfinished dinosaur jigsaw puzzles whose pieces only grow more slippery in the dark, I concur. I will be combining them with the shredder from step 15.
posted by mittens at 4:20 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not having children or pets doesn't always help.

Working as a stage manager for 10 years did help re-calibrate my baseline for "acceptable clutter," so that was good. But I still don't do any regular maintenance and rely on the occasional bouts of "Organize ALL the things!" to rein things back in.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:24 AM on September 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


New medal in the housekeeping Olympics: You Know What? Good Enough, and It Works for Us.

I am very much in favor of less shame around organization and of more functional, achievable, and reasonable adaptations that work in particular contexts.

That said, yeah, daily maintenance and basic resetting of rooms have been sanity savers.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:32 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


that was good. I'm already a fan of a monochrome sock wardrobe (black cuz of work, which leads to the occasional snicker with shorts, but that's a small price to pay).

I would add that muscle memory is your friend. if the location of your keys is burned into your psyche, its one less thing to lose.

I'm looking forward to my new lidless life.
posted by jpe at 4:33 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I already do most of those. I enjoy the activity of matching socks, though, but I only try for a good enough match. (Or, like Stephen Wright, I match for thickness.)
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:47 AM on September 24, 2013


Socks now live in the laundry room on the "take a sock, leave a sock" system.

Making the wee ones leave their shoes in the foyer helps somewhat, though we have a cluttered foyer and the shoes only stay on long enough to get them to the car. Inevitably, we pull up somewhere, unbuckle, and sit three more minutes as shoes are retrieved and reattached.
posted by tilde at 4:51 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I do like having a small swath of colour on my socks, so what I do is to always hang them to dry next to each other and then pair them when they're dry, before they go into the sock drawer. No sock leaves the clothesline without being paired.

If a sock comes out of the washing machine alone, it goes straight back into the washing bin until two matching socks come out.
posted by brokkr at 4:56 AM on September 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Twentyfive tips on how to organise your life if you're a lazy slob like me

At first I felt a little cheated that three of them are about sock management. On further reflection, I've decided it's a good thing. I don't really want 25 tips, I just want a few good ones. I guess maybe she should de-clutter her list though.

Even the good ones seem very basic and obvious, which I'm hoping means maybe I can actually finally get around to doing some of them.

... but you’ll love your hanging pot rack

She doesn't even mention the best part about a hanging pot rack which is that you can just hang stuff up while it's still wet without having to worry about it. That also applies to a kitchen peg board. Seriously everyone, go install a peg board in your kitchen because it's the only way your eggbeater and ladle and carrot peeler and potato masher can ever truly be friends.
posted by aubilenon at 4:59 AM on September 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, I take issue with classifying "don't fold your washcloth" as a "hack".
posted by aubilenon at 5:03 AM on September 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


12. Get a large, 56-quart storage bin to designate as your “items to donate” box. It’ll be too big to fit in your car, so keep a box of trash bags next to it for easy bagging when you’re ready to make a Goodwill run.

I just realized that said quart, not gallon. I was trying to figure out how on earth one could fill one of those up when I remembered back when the wee ones were wee-er and I had filled one of those double capacity play yards to overflowing with "things which must be folded" and a family visitor thought it was my "to donate" pile.

Her suggestion is useful, but if you don't have the room, get a large capacity spring-loaded folding collapse basket. They generally have pockets on the side for soap containers - put the bags in that pocket. Use a bit of duck tape and make a sign on the side that it's the "donation" bin, empty at least once a week after laundry day. Again, mine lives in the laundry room so once something dries and is too small, it goes straight in the bin.
posted by tilde at 5:05 AM on September 24, 2013


i like the sheets stored in the pillowcase thing. though i've finally managed to learn how to fold fitted sheets, and i actually like having all the sheets/pillows mismatched on the bed. all 1 color is so blah.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 5:09 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, I take issue with classifying "don't fold your washcloth" as a "hack".

I can't help but to think of these tips as the equivalents of desire paths -- handy solutions that evolve organically, even if they aren't the most Pinterest-friendly, Martha Stewart-worthy in appearance. That's sometimes a mental block for me, because I would like my practical solutions to look simple and pleasing as well -- even though appearance is usually going to take second place to utility.

My front door step (mobile) is centered under the door. But the mat is pulled to one side. EVERY TIME my mother visits, she centers it, even though this makes it really difficult to wipe your feet and deal with the door at the same time. ARGH, that makes me insane. My solution may not be elegant, but it works. Less aesthetic judginess via lifestyle media would be a welcome thing, especially when so many of us are just trying to figure out which solutions apply in our own situations. Whatever works!
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:12 AM on September 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I do the thing where you buy lots of the same socks. Right now I have just two varieties of sock, so even though they're all jumbled together in one drawer I never have to pull out more than three socks to find a pair, and half the time I get a pair on the first two socks I randomly grab. Anyway, the two varieties are so similar that only I would know if I didn't bother to match them.
posted by pracowity at 5:23 AM on September 24, 2013


"1 Banish all lids from your house."

Yeah, fuck off. I'd like dinner tonight, ta.
posted by pompomtom at 5:30 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why the hell am I folding my washcloths? Thank you, lazy blogging lady! *off to find a washcloth container for the bathroom*
posted by Harald74 at 5:33 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I despise maintenance tasks of any sort, so my home messiness level always takes on a sawtooth pattern. When I hit a certain mess threshold, it's time to do some cleaning. I don't consider this "laziness," exactly. It is, however, a situation that can only persist if you are okay with your living space only looking clean once a month.
posted by deathpanels at 5:34 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Almost all of my socks are black athletic socks, and I wear them to work and to work out, and so, yeah, I wear 'em with shorts because fuck you, world.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:39 AM on September 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


mine lives in the laundry room

Laundry... room?
posted by MartinWisse at 5:50 AM on September 24, 2013 [24 favorites]


Almost all of my socks are black athletic socks, and I wear them to work and to work out, and so, yeah, I wear 'em with shorts because fuck you, world.

Grey crew work-socks with reinforced toe and heel, here. Should the socks match the shoes or the pants? Fuck you, they match both and I get them at the Job Lot for $10/bag.

I do have the Big Drawer of Lonely Wool Sock Singletons I need to put out of their misery take out to a farm in the country where they can play in a field all day - when I hit the lottery, I'll buy a dozen pairs of identical Thor-Lo smartwool crew socks and avoid this issue going forward.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:51 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


The sock thing doesn't actually work. Unless you completely reboot your sock drawer and buy all your socks at once, and even then it might not work. The problem is, even the same make/model of sock might be manufactured in a couple different places with slight differences between two different sets. The differences will be just enough in look and feel to make them annoying if you're wearing two different ones.

I attempted to do this with Smartwool and what I ended up with was a drawer full of socks that all look alike at first glance but actually aren't the same. So now finding matching socks is like finding a needle in a haystack. The problem is worse than it ever was.

I think I'm going to go the other way and replace all my identical socks with different-looking pairs so it will be easier to find a match.

In conclusion: Socks are jerks.
posted by bondcliff at 5:56 AM on September 24, 2013 [11 favorites]


I do like having a small swath of colour on my socks, so what I do is to always hang them to dry next to each other and then pair them when they're dry, before they go into the sock drawer. No sock leaves the clothesline without being paired.

If a sock comes out of the washing machine alone, it goes straight back into the washing bin until two matching socks come out.


You could consult with companies, marketing this as "XYZ#### complaint, AND-gated sock sorting".
posted by Slackermagee at 5:59 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


My sock solution is to make sure to have no pairs of socks that remotely resemble other pairs. There's no danger of accidentally wearing one autumn rainbow over-the-knee sock with a purple argyll sock. Sure, sometimes one of them will go AWOL; you just have to be philosophical about these things. Unless one of the dogs got it, it'll turn up again someday.
posted by Foosnark at 6:17 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


This made me feel a little better about how I run my household.
posted by sunshinesky at 6:17 AM on September 24, 2013


The differences will be just enough in look and feel to make them annoying if you're wearing two different ones.

If you're a bloke, you can get away with this as long as your trousers are long enough to mostly cover your socks.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:19 AM on September 24, 2013


The sock thing is difficult with kids. For a while I tried having the socks in all the kids different sizes (with four years between them there is a pretty big size variation) but sorting socks into four size piles became too much so now I buy all the socks in the size of the middle child and the little child has to wear knee high socks and the eldest has anklet socks but it saves me so much time! Personally, I don't wear socks, ever. It has become a joke artwork how I walk through the snow in winter with sandals and no socks and it horrifies my mother but, socks?, ain't nobody got time for that!
posted by saucysault at 6:21 AM on September 24, 2013


I fold my face cloths because that way I can fit all five that we own in one small pile. If I just wad them up I can get in maybe two. Same goes for sheets, unfolded the sheet shelf holds one pair. A few minutes spent folding and all five sets fit in easily. It's not like this stuff takes real any time, folding the face cloth as I pick it up and move into the cupboard takes like one second longer than just shoving it in there.

These rules all look fine and dandy if you can regularly replace stuff you're giving away and not worry about space the rest of the time. Not everyone is that lucky.

I attempted to do this with Smartwool and what I ended up with was a drawer full of socks that all look alike at first glance but actually aren't the same.

I have this drawer (although not Smartwool) and it's totally fine. Mine aren't even all the same style any more, just whatever similar ones I found cheap at Pennys. As long as the socks are about the same length I just wear two regardless of how perfectly they match. They're all black and no one is getting down on the floor to check if they're an exact match.
posted by shelleycat at 6:21 AM on September 24, 2013


Put the word out that giving your children toys with more than 20 pieces will be taken as a hostile act that signifies that the giver despises your family and wishes ill upon you personally.

Ha! I know the feeling. A family member gave my son a beautiful handmade wooden train (5 cars, it's probably 2.5 feet long), and while I was thrilled to receive such a beautiful item, I was less than thrilled with the 20+ little pegs and blocks that came riding in on the train. I'm going to be picking those up constantly, I thought. And it's true! Oh well. Some of them have made their way into dark corners where they can collect dust. That's helping.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:22 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, in number 22 she says to store tupperware with the lids on but in 24 she says to buy a smaller house. Those things don't work together. My house is quite large by local standards but the main reason I put any effort into being organised with storing my crap is because there's just no damn room to do otherwise.
posted by shelleycat at 6:24 AM on September 24, 2013


We have our first child on the way and I think one of the highlights for my wife will be seeing how I deal with the additional source of clutter and whether I simply snap and have to be institutionalized. I'm trying to come to grips with the idea not everything needs to be put away all the time and maybe there's some stuff to learn here; however I can't help but see about half those tips as "My life is a goddamn mess and I am trying to excuse it by turning it into a life philosophy". It seems like one meta tip might not be to look at Pinterest and assume the pretty photos have anything to do with the poster's real life.
posted by yerfatma at 6:25 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Unless one of the dogs got it, it'll turn up again someday.

In my experience, if the dog got it it'll turn up right when you don't want it to. And you won't want to wear it again.
posted by inigo2 at 6:28 AM on September 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Box for donations.....that's gonna be a box that never gets emptied. Lose your fear of the landfill. No one wants or can use most of your junk anyway; face facts and throw it out.
posted by thelonius at 6:35 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


whether I simply snap and have to be institutionalized.

No, no. Unlike toddlers and up, whose belongings require constant organization lest all their toys end up lodged in a/c vents and cat intestines, newborns bring a marvelous clarity to things:

1. Where do you keep the diapers? EVERYWHERE, especially near the changing table if you have one.

2. Where do you keep the bottles if you use them? Next to the sink, out on the counter, for all the world to see (and hopefully some of the world to help you wash).

3. What about baby clothes? You will be too exhausted to fold and sort, so they can be left in the dryer; besides, by the time the dryer cycle is done, baby will have spat up on his or her current outfit and require new clothes.
posted by mittens at 6:37 AM on September 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


As long as the socks are about the same length I just wear two regardless of how perfectly they match.

It's not so much the way they look, I'm just weird about stuff against my skin. If the stitches or textures are slightly off between the socks I can feel it and it drives me crazy, like having a mosquito bite or a tack in my shoe.

So I guess I should have said the sock thing doesn't work if you're a hyper-sensitive freak like I am.
posted by bondcliff at 6:39 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


12. Get a large, 56-quart storage bin to designate as your “items to donate” box. It’ll be too big to fit in your car, so keep a box of trash bags next to it for easy bagging when you’re ready to make a Goodwill run.

How could a bin that size not fit in your car? It's 1' x 2', you could strap it to the back of a bicycle.
posted by octothorpe at 6:50 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The sock thing doesn't actually work. Unless you completely reboot your sock drawer and buy all your socks at once, and even then it might not work.

That's pretty much what I did. I threw away the lousy socks (holes, weird materials that I always hated, etc.), banished the OK but weird socks to just-in-case storage, and bought large packs of identical comfortable socks on sale.

No more matching up socks after washing or, if not that, no more fumbling around to find two matching socks when it's time to put socks on.

No more wondering what to do with the socks that mysteriously lose their partners, because all of my socks go together. If you lose two socks, unless you somehow lose a pair, you are left with two mismatched socks you'll probably never wear again. If I lose any two socks, or wear holes in any two socks, the two good socks remaining from those two pairs always match each other (and all the rest of the socks in the drawer) perfectly.

And no more wondering which socks to put on in the morning, because it doesn't matter at all. They all look the same.
posted by pracowity at 6:57 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okay, tupperware people, I'm going to BLOW YOUR MINDS: I only own tupperware with the SAME SIZED LID. I own "entree" and "tall entree" and THAT IS IT. Sometimes I have to split something up into two or three containers, and sometimes a very small amount looks silly in the big container, but they ALL STACK in one stack and EVERY LID FITS EVERY BOTTOM and IT IS WONDERFUL.

When some jerk gives me food in a non-standard-sized tupperware container, I turn around and make someone else food and give the container away that way. Or I hand it to the next person I meet complaining about their tupperware.

I do have a couple other storage dishes (a 9x13 glass dish with a lid, for example), but they live in a different cabinet since they're not "tupperware for leftovers."

bondcliff: "The sock thing doesn't actually work. Unless you completely reboot your sock drawer and buy all your socks at once, and even then it might not work. "

I did this, it cost me $50 to completely reboot my sock drawer, and it is blissful not having to sort socks. They all just cram in there and when one gets a hole I throw it out and don't worry about it as all the remaining ones still match.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:03 AM on September 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


I realized a while back that dishwashing is significantly easier when I rearranged the kitchen so the most frequently used things (silverware, cups, plates) were as close as possible to the dishwasher. Taking out the turn-and-step-and-lift maneuver makes the entire process so much easier that I end up doing the dishes way more often just because I don't dread it as much.

Also, getting a housekeeping service has paid dividends far above the fact that I don't have to clean the shower anymore -- it forces us to clean up clutter the night before the housekeepers come, which is almost worth the money in and of itself.
posted by Etrigan at 7:07 AM on September 24, 2013


(About pegboards: you can make your own with pegboard from the hardware store and some hooks. We have two - one for pots and pans and one for cooking stuff. We found some metal cylinder containers at Ikea that could be attached and keep all our silverware on the pegboard as well. We just used screws to attach two long pieces of wood vertically at the studs then attached the pegboard on top. Honestly, if my room were configured a little differently, I'd make a pegboard for scarves and bags too. Seriously, we have a terrible kitchen, really terrible, but the pegboards make things fairly easy.)
posted by Frowner at 7:08 AM on September 24, 2013


We have our first child on the way and I think one of the highlights for my wife will be seeing how I deal with the additional source of clutter and whether I simply snap and have to be institutionalized.

As mittens said, if you're already good about keeping things clean and organized, you'll probably get really good at staying organized with a baby, analyzing and refining your setup, because baby maintenance is regimented and predictable. It'll be a lot more work, but you stand a good chance of having the whole dishes/diapers/laundry thing (well, maybe not laundry, because that shit triples with a baby) under control.

It's when they get old enough to get their own toys out. When that happens, if you do not have a supernatural ability to train them to keep things tidy at a very young age, then you're either going to have to learn to deal with at least a low-level of constant clutter, or else the neater of you two is going to have to become a full-time parent.

LEGO will become your white whale.

The good news is that, for me anyway, the newborn years made me really good at triaging and letting things slide. The survival mode of the first six months gave me laser focus on What Needs Doing and a broader definition of The Tolerable Unfinished.

However, and at the risk of being Unwelcome Advice Guy, I hereby forbid you to lose your shit in any manner that does not involve you commiserating with your wife trench warfare-style unless you're taking responsibility for >50% of the workload around the house.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:11 AM on September 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Meh. Lids are fine, and keep dust out. Dust << Clutter. No use in having a tidy house if it's disgusting.

I'm told that the chain-smoking, homebrewing, cat-lovers who lived in my apartment before me were always very neat and organized. After two months of scraping disgusting quantities of cat hair, nicotine, and mold off of every conceivable surface in the house, I'm willing to add another item.

26. Tidiness should never outweigh cleanliness. Ever. One often leads to the other, but, for the love of god, mop the damn floor every now and again. If you notice that your lightswitches have stuff growing on them, rethink your priorities.

I actually use those cheapo Ikea boxes in the article, and the lids don't even lock. Pretty easy to lift one up and slip stuff inside. I call it my LIFO bank statement queue.

I know that label-makers tend to be used primarily by people who are *far* more organized than I ever will be, but I seriously do find that obsessively labeling things helps me to remember to put stuff back where it belongs (and, even more importantly, not putting stuff where it doesn't belong).

It's the one long-term organizational commitment that I always seem to be able to keep (most other stuff tends to fall by the wayside after a few weeks). If nothing else, it gives you an automatic and valid answer for "Where do I put this?," before you obsess over it and dump everything on the coffee table.

Eyebrows McGee: "I did this, it cost me $50 to completely reboot my sock drawer, and it is blissful not having to sort socks. They all just cram in there and when one gets a hole I throw it out and don't worry about it as all the remaining ones still match."

+1 to this. I'm a sucker for patterned dress socks, so I haven't made a complete commitment, but I've been buying huge packs of athletic socks from H&M for a few years, and it makes my life so much easier. No matching, and I can throw individual socks away if they start to look worn or tired. The design hasn't changed in several years, so I can always replenish the drawer when they inevitably start to vanish, as socks tend to do...

Costco and Uniqlo also have decent/cheap socks that you can buy in bulk.
posted by schmod at 7:11 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


near the changing table if you have one.
Our changing table doubles as a floor.

Yeah, though: diapers everywhere.

And: Monkey Toes is spot on: the best of these are desire paths, reorganizing stuff and practice around how we actually live and how we actually use stuff. I'm a huge fan of that, while it drives my wife nuts, since she'd much rather we organize our conduct and behavior around our stuff (which strikes me as bizarre).
posted by jpe at 7:14 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, tupperware people, I'm going to BLOW YOUR MINDS: I only own tupperware with the SAME SIZED LID.

I've been thinking of making an AskMe post about this. We currently have a very large drawer overflowing with Rubbermaid and other brands. Most of it isn't stackable, all the lids are different sizes, and of course we're missing a bunch of lids and have other odd lids without a matching container.

My goal, if I can get buy-in from my wife*, is to replace it all with something stackable that has a common lid. I'd maybe keep a couple of the largest Rubbermaids that I like but everything else would be the same. I think I want something a little more durable than the Entree stuff though. I could re-purpose the current containers in my shop or in my son's playroom, or wherever. It wouldn't go to waste.

Suggestions? I'm surprisingly picky about this sort of thing and I've seen a lot of brands that won't pass the Bondcliff test.

*She likes the quality of the Rubbermaid and also fears change, even when we're talking containers for leftovers.
posted by bondcliff at 7:15 AM on September 24, 2013


I don't get the whole sheet folding thing. Take sheets of of bed, wash and put back on bed. They don't need to be folded or wadded up or anything except used. Sure, we have a few sets in the closet for when the kid throws up or we have guests but that's not an everyday occurrence.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:22 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Suggestions?

Sistema. I've used all kinds of brands with varying prices and fanciness and this is the best. Even living places with horrible ant problems and damp everywhere and whatever these guys hold up just fine. Dishwasher, hand washing, whatever. They're not quite one lid for everything but we do have several different sized ones with interchangeable lids. But then we also have them ranging from really huge down to very very small, so the lid thing was never going to work across all of them anyway.

I didn't know it was an NZ brand until I moved across the world and bought some replacements here in Ireland for the ones we left behind. So my impressedness is not due to patriotism.
posted by shelleycat at 7:24 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


The sheet thing is for people like me without a dryer so it takes up to four days for the sheets to be fully dry and ready to go back on the bed. Plus I have winter and summer sheets and only use one type at a time. We have two beds and, I think, six sets of sheets so it's not like we're being extravagant.
posted by shelleycat at 7:25 AM on September 24, 2013


My house came with the best "hack" ever for laundry: A laundry chute. We didn't use it at first, but now, it's amazing. All dirty laundry, once removed, is immediately sent down the chute to be dealt with later. It's great and keeps clutter in the unfinished part of the basement.
posted by stltony at 7:25 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Take sheets off of bed, wash and put back on bed

I used to do that, but then for unrelated reasons I bought a second set of sheets, and suddenly I found myself staying up late waiting for the stupid dryer to finish a lot less often.
posted by aubilenon at 7:26 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okay, granted, I don't have kids. But if I ever do, I am totally buying the hell out of that bookshelf. Brilliant.
posted by likeatoaster at 7:28 AM on September 24, 2013


My house came with the best "hack" ever for laundry: A laundry chute.

When we were buying our current house (built in the 1950s) a few years back, the inspector told us that the laundry chute was a huge fire hazard (essentially, it's a chimney for dryer fires) and that he recommended we seal it off. And then paused, and muttered, "But they're so goddamn useful...." We did not seal it off.
posted by Etrigan at 7:31 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sistema

A drawback to Sistema is the little plasticky insulator thing in the lids. You really need to pry that out to be able to clean the entire lid, otherwise things will grow there. But it's tough to pry them out without damaging the plastic. But we still love them.

I've been buying huge packs of athletic socks from H&M for a few years

H&M also has these shirts, and they're for kids, I know, but the design is this HUGE photo of a cat face on the front, dominating the entire front of the shirt, and it comes with matching cat pants, and if only I were three feet tall I would fill my wardrobe with these.
posted by mittens at 7:40 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


On the baby tip? One thing babies love to do is play with the wipes box. If they get their grubby little mitts on it, wipes everywhere, right?

So. Next time you got an empty wipes box? Fill it with colorful squares of cloth. Cut up worn-out t-shirts or tea towels or whatever, put them in the box, give the box to the baby, and they will think you are a benevolent wizard with joy-conjuring powers.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:41 AM on September 24, 2013 [21 favorites]


Box for donations.....that's gonna be a box that never gets emptied. Lose your fear of the landfill. No one wants or can use most of your junk anyway; face facts and throw it out.

Yep. I have talked about this before (see this AskMe answer), and what it really comes down to is "know thyself": are you actually the sort of person who takes the time to drive your junk to Goodwill (or the consignment store, or whatever) or if you are someone who just lets things sit there for months? If the latter sounds suspiciously like you, THROW THAT SHIT IT OUT.
posted by naoko at 7:41 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


naoko: " are you actually the sort of person who takes the time to drive your junk to Goodwill (or the consignment store, or whatever) or if you are someone who just lets things sit there for months?"

The is dependent upon having a car (sorry New Yorkers), but for me the crucial thing was, as soon as I fill a box or garbage bag with stuff to donate, I take it out to my car and leave it in the trunk. It may sit in the trunk for six weeks, but once it's in the car, it's GOING to Goodwill. It's not coming back in the house. Then when I'm driving past one of the places I donate, I go, "Oh! I have stuff to donate! ... Oh! It's already in the car!" and it's easy to stop and offload it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:45 AM on September 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


I disagree with 9. Part of the joy in life is wearing mismatched socks!
posted by Joe Chip at 7:49 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


My son went out Saturday with a Perry the Platypus slip-on sneaker on one foot and a Batman Chuck Taylor high-top on the other, and he was basically a 6-year-old Hefner everywhere he went.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:51 AM on September 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


When we were buying our current house (built in the 1950s) a few years back, the inspector told us that the laundry chute was a huge fire hazard (essentially, it's a chimney for dryer fires) and that he recommended we seal it off. And then paused, and muttered, "But they're so goddamn useful...." We did not seal it off.

When I was a kid the neighbor's house had one of those. I can't speak to the usefulness, but we did spend many rainy afternoons playing Secret Agent Ninja in that laundry chute.
posted by notyou at 7:57 AM on September 24, 2013


I try to keep Ben Stiller's boss, Sally, from Mystery Men in the back of my head whenever I do any picking up/decluttering. I feel a little bad for not taking stuff to Goodwill, but ultimately, it's better to just get it out so I don't have to waste more mental bandwidth on it. I also don't buy rubbermaid or tupperware. I just buy the disposable gladware stuff, and when it's been left in the fridge for too long or looking grungy, I junk it. If I can't find a lid, junk it! It's terribly liberating.
posted by ashirys at 7:59 AM on September 24, 2013


Nevermind Tupperware, just get a bunch of restaurant style to go containers.

Someone had an ask recently about things you can buy on Amazon that might not be obvious.

This blew my mind and is going to make my work mornings so much easier not having to

A. Search for lids

B. Fret about the cost of replacing those damn containers when I leave one in the office to marinate in the funk of beans and rice
posted by bilabial at 8:18 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


thelonius: "Box for donations.....that's gonna be a box that never gets emptied."

This is insane and you are insane. When I was in a cleany mood, I wound up taking boxes or etc. to Goodwill once a week. Put it in the passenger seat and I literally could not forget it.

(plus how much are you getting in tax writeoffs from the landfill?)
posted by boo_radley at 8:19 AM on September 24, 2013


How To Fix Your Sock Problem:

1. Buy whatever awesome, colorful, patterned socks you like.
2. Be that crazy person who has two mismatched socks all the time. Exercise your aesthetic skills by picking out two socks that both work with your outfit.
posted by egypturnash at 8:24 AM on September 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Laundry... room?

If you don't count the line of clean laundry beside the sofa and dirty laundry next to the computer, I do have a room that bears some dedication to rooming in with laundry. The units themselves take up about 1/9th the usable space, the HVAC system 2/9, the pantry 2/9, storage 2/9, leaving a walking path of about 1.5/9ths (the other .5/9ths is hanging storage above my head, pushed out of the way when tall people use the laundry system). Also somewhere in there is my umbrella rack for line drying (collapsible, it's used outdoors but stored in). The wash and dry units are side by side, on pedestals (storage for soap and lightbulbs) but when they were stacked, I had a pantry unit next to them and a "fold down" laundry folding table I built in.

Some day, I will catch up on Laundry. The last sort step before it goes upstairs with the children (presumably to be put away) is a winnowing for the Goodwill pile. I've tried to consign, to ebay; it's not happening, it's not worth it. Thanks to the generosity of family, I get lots of handy downs, gently useds, and clearance rack scavenged items but I have to stop saying "Oh, I'd love to see them in this one more time" ...

The only exception to Goodwinnowing is Tie Dye. That goes in a Tie Dye box and will be a quilt if it kills me (and it just might).

By the way, I'm stealing the "move dishes closer to the dishwasher" hack as I rearrange my kitchen this week. I'm sharpie and 3x5 relabelling cabinets anyway, so moving everyone over one cabinet makes a ton of sense. Dishes we eat from on the left, dishes we store in/cook from on the right.
posted by tilde at 8:26 AM on September 24, 2013


This is insane and you are insane

My thesis is that a person who needs remedial help from the internet to keep their home livably free of clutter is probably going to seize onto a "donation box" as an opportunity to do nothing that actually gets debris out of their home, because they are "going" to donate it.
posted by thelonius at 8:29 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


One often leads to the other, but, for the love of god, mop the damn floor every now and again.

This is a problem I have. I am an obsessive tidyer but I don't like the noise the vacuum cleaner makes. My nerdy additions to this list

- storing tupperware with lids on means you run out of storage. I apply the sock plan to the tupperware plan and only have three kinds of storage containers: small/large round ones that take the same tops, bigger meal-sized ones. If a lid is round I know what it goes on, same for square (as EM does above)
- FREE sign for stuff that is too big to take to thrift sore. I got rid of a nice-ish steelcase chair in the time it took me to walk back down the driveway
- when I do season-change stuff for clothes, I take 15 minutes to ditch clothes that aren't working for me. The lined pair of flannel pants that look dumpy and terrible on me but keep me from buying a better-fitting pair? I am a lady with a job and they go OUT.
- We have a nice compliant thrift store in town. I actually help other friends with their thrift store boxes by taking them in my Magic Disappearing Machine.
- I have a giant-but-cheap toolchest that I think I've mentioned here before and I keep all my tech odds and ends in it. Super helpful.

I do laundry at the laundromat so I get to do four loads at once. I on;y have one set of sheets for each season so if I don't finish it I don't get to sleep.
posted by jessamyn at 8:35 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


26. Move full-time into an RV and you will become (mostly) organized whether you like it or not.
posted by desjardins at 8:37 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Socks now live in the laundry room on the "take a sock, leave a sock" system.

Like you could ever convince your dryer to agree to such an arrangement.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:38 AM on September 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


This article's great. Here's my one successful system - I have six laundry baskets: one for each person (two adults and three kids) and one for sheets, towels, dishtowels, etc. I wash all the clothes at once and then separate the giant clean pile. Then you can happily fold one basket at a time and have the kids put it away. It's easier to face one basket instead of a giant pile. I have never ever accomplished folding and putting away each load as I go. You can also live out of your personal laundry basket if folding doesn't happen. But sometimes it's all done for a minute. Extra socks just live in the basket for a few cycles and then get thrown away if the other doesn't show up. We mostly all have one kind of sock each but there are some pairs with designs on them.

I used to have a great Organizing for ADHD book (but I lost it). It's main point was "Are you going to clean/dust/organize/put away 3 sets of dishes/1200 books/Halloween decorations? No. No you are not. It's easier to just not have those things." So I get rid of lots and lots of stuff. There's still crap everywhere, but it's getting better.
posted by artychoke at 8:42 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


My thesis is that a person who needs remedial help from the internet to keep their home livably free of clutter is probably going to seize onto a "donation box" as an opportunity to do nothing that actually gets debris out of their home, because they are "going" to donate it.

Corollary to this is if you are or live with someone who cannot emotionally tolerate throwing things away that no one is using and are only taking up space. Someone who, when you go to throw it away says "you know what we could do with that?" and you know that, whatever the idea, it's never going to happen. After awhile you learn to just throw things away (not *their* stuff, mind) when they aren't looking.

Trying the donation box is a good idea to start, but yeah, there's about a 50/50 chance that you'll discover that that box never actually makes it to Goodwill. So load a box up, and when you're doing it, tell yourself that you have permission to throw it away and not beat yourself up if you don't ever take it. If it's still there in two weeks, throw the stuff away.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:43 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


A drawback to Sistema is the little plasticky insulator thing in the lids. You really need to pry that out to be able to clean the entire lid, otherwise things will grow there.

Huh. I never pry that bit out and I've never seen anything growing. Maybe I'm just gross? We don't have a dishwasher either though so it all gets scrubbed with soapy water which seems to get in there OK, fiddly bits and all, so maybe not?
posted by shelleycat at 8:43 AM on September 24, 2013


Maybe I'm just gross?

I think the fact that we keep leaving them full of food, in the trunk, over the weekend, is probably not what the designers intended.
posted by mittens at 8:50 AM on September 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't want to do any of these things, I want to throw all my clean laundry on the bed and roll around in it like a delighted puppy.
posted by elizardbits at 8:51 AM on September 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


A good solution to storing too much stuff in the attic is having bats up there that you are afraid of. Then you have to deal with your shit instead of just stashing it out of sight. I will get you some bats. I have plenty. (This is my second bat related comment in 2 days. I am clearly still traumatized by my most recent bat encounter.)
posted by Biblio at 9:01 AM on September 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


My goal, if I can get buy-in from my wife*, is to replace it all with something stackable that has a common lid.

J. Kenji Alt-Lopez of Serious Eats has recommended using Reditainers in 8oz, 16oz and 32oz sizes with identical lids. I've been considering making the switch myself, but I too have a wife who fears change. For lid management of our current polyglot food storage containers, I've taken to dedicating a whole kitchen drawer to them and just tossing 'em in, no stacking or organization or anything. The container bodies go into a separate drawer and are slightly more organized. It seems to work but I'm getting tired of the constant mix 'n match.
posted by slogger at 9:04 AM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Biblio, have you tried storing your bats in 56-quart containers? It reduces flying-into-your-hair by at least 30%.
posted by mittens at 9:04 AM on September 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


Please don't stop worrying about the landfill. Goodwill/ Salvation Army/ etc., does a terrific job of recycling, and you would be amazed at what people will buy. Though I do throw out mismatched socks after they've had an opportunity to find a mate. (hmm, allegory for how culture treats un-partnered people?) I used to buy my son a dozen pairs of socks at a time, but he would still come home from friends' houses with wrong socks. Or the dryer came with a secret odd sock dispenser. I only use recycled food containers, and I love the olive bar, so we don't run out, and they are all the same lid size. I've noticed that Glad and other manufacturers change the styles of the containers they sell, wich pretty much requires that you're going to have a mismatched pile. Bastards. Buy 4 packs at a time. Lids are essential, as leftovers must be stacked in the fridge.

I like to start projects, some of them far too large for my house. So the house is full of stuff. I had a party recently, which was quite fun, and got me to organize and make a place for pretty much everything. So there were crates of stuff under the table. I can live with that until the bathroom project, and the upstairs projects, and other stuff gets done. Projects are fun. I like knowing that I can make a cool birthday card in a few minutes, and now I know where all the art supplies are, it's easier.

I want a couple tool chests like Jessamyn's. 1 for tech stuff, 1 for art supplies, ok, 2 for art supplies.

Want to have less crap to deal with? Buy Less Stuff. It saves a ton of money. It's great for the environment. Use freecycle, craigslist, thrift stores, etc., for some of the stuff you want. Want to take up paddleboarding, camping, beer-making, woodworking? You may have a friend who took that up one of those things, then moved on. The US is such a culture of Stuff. It's quite possible to reduce that. (Lots of my project stuff is from Goodwill, SA, CL, etc.)
posted by theora55 at 9:05 AM on September 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


A good solution to storing too much stuff in the attic is having bats up there that you are afraid of. Then you have to deal with your shit instead of just stashing it out of sight. I will get you some bats. I have plenty. (This is my second bat related comment in 2 days. I am clearly still traumatized by my most recent bat encounter.)

Have you considered fighting crime?
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:08 AM on September 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


17. The amount that you love your children is not directly proportional to the amount of their artwork that you keep.

Once again the internet proliferates dirty lies.
posted by ersatz at 9:17 AM on September 24, 2013


Want to have less crap to deal with? Buy Less Stuff.

My first thought upon buying anything is "will I have room for this?" Due to living in an RV, the answer is almost always "no." I have told everyone I know not to buy me any gifts unless they are quickly consumable. If I buy something like clothing, I have to throw out / give away something else. I mean, I have to, or I literally won't be able to walk around my living space. There is no "shoving things in the attic" or "storing them in the basement."
posted by desjardins at 9:21 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


when I hit the lottery, I'll buy a dozen pairs of identical Thor-Lo smartwool crew socks and avoid this issue going forward.

Back last year when I was gainfully employed, I did this, sort of. I grabbed all my old socks and trashed them (my wife refers to this event as the "sockpocalypse"). Then, thanks to Amazon prime, I got several bags of identical white crew and grey merino wool boot socks. I have a white drawer and a grey drawer and everything matches everything else and it's wonderful. Folding is non-existent; I grab a pile of them and shove it in the drawer. I do have to sort by color but as they have vastly different textures, I can, quite literally, do this with my eyes closed. At some point I'll have to begin culling again, but my plan is that when the drawer is half-empty I'll just buy another bag of whatever sock.

Don't be fooled: the rest of my life is in utter disarray, but my socks... those I am master of.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 9:27 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I only own tupperware with the SAME SIZED LID.

In cleaning out stuff from my Grandparent's house, I discovered something that, were some modern company (or even the current Tupperware company) do, I would love them forever:

Lid hangers.

On actual (tm) Tupperware-brand tupperware, each lid had a small protrusion (you can see them clearly on these lids), which has a small slit cut in it. This slit, I learned from my Grandmother's giant collection of 60's vintage tupperware, is to slide the lid onto a lid bracket (that mounts to the wall or door) and then the lids hang from the bracket ready and waiting to be used. Tupperware also sold these lid organizers as well.

I have no idea why nobody does this anymore. Heck, not even actual Tupperware does it anymore. And it works so very well.
posted by anastasiav at 9:28 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tired of many different lids? Hop on the Liilypad and your cares will go away!
posted by HappyHippo at 9:33 AM on September 24, 2013


J. Kenji Alt-Lopez of Serious Eats has recommended using Reditainers in 8oz, 16oz and 32oz sizes with identical lids.

J. Kenji Alt-Lopez of Serious Eats apparently never makes too much lasagna.
posted by Etrigan at 9:34 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is insane and you are insane. When I was in a cleany mood, I wound up taking boxes or etc. to Goodwill once a week.

Ditto Eyebrows that it helps to have a car, and adding that it also helps to be remotely near a Goodwill (or similar) - and one that accepts donations, because not all of them do. Where live (Northwest DC), the closest donation centers are 1. waaaaay across town in Northeast or 2. in Arlington, by route of hellish traffic. Neither one is on the way to anywhere else I ever drive. I still do it a lot (out of a pathological commitment to recycling).

I'm currently packing for a move to NYC, and in addition to getting rid of stuff now (my sister tells me it's basically impossible to get rid of stuff once you're there), I've been trying to focus more on STOP BUYING SHIT.
posted by naoko at 9:46 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


My goal, if I can get buy-in from my wife*, is to replace it all with something stackable that has a common lid. I'd maybe keep a couple of the largest Rubbermaids that I like but everything else would be the same. I think I want something a little more durable than the Entree stuff though. I could re-purpose the current containers in my shop or in my son's playroom, or wherever. It wouldn't go to waste.

Suggestions?


I use a bunch of rubbermaid containers that came all together for about 10-20$, and I like them a lot. There are 3 sizes of lids with a tall and short container matching it, each lid clips onto others of the same size to stack neatly, and the containers stack neatly as well. They seem pretty durable so far and are microwave-safe, although I still use a separate set of glass containers with locking lids if I'm heating stuff up or need a liquid-proof seal. If you want all the lids to be identical, you could just get a bunch of the same size lid.
posted by randomnity at 9:58 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nevermind Tupperware, just get a bunch of restaurant style to go containers.

Or move to NYC, where these things seemingly reproduce in your kitchen while you sleep. The 32 oz. size is perfect for icewater in the summertime. The other great thing about living in NY is that anything you put on the sidewalk and label as "free" will be gone immediately. Which is why everyone has bedbugs, but as long as you follow a "give, never take" policy, you'll be fine.

Also, as far as I'm concerned, socks are a)disposable, and b) don't need to match. They're SO MUCH BETTER when new. The 20 bucks a month I spend on socks seems like a bargain considering the massive quality of life boost.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:18 AM on September 24, 2013


Making my own socks has done wonders for keeping track of them.

Sure, hand knitted socks (with some yarns) can go in the washing machine, but I'm not going to do that, because I want them to last as long as possible. So I wash them all by hand and then hang them up in pairs to dry.
posted by bilabial at 10:21 AM on September 24, 2013


Okay, granted, I don't have kids. But if I ever do, I am totally buying the hell out of that bookshelf. Brilliant.

No kids here either, but I think I might get one anyway. (Odd-shaped hobby-related book ahoy!) And actually, I'm pretty sure one of our collection of 60s-70s Sunset DIY books has instructions for building one. :)

Also, we own that giant toolchest and have never quite gotten our tools properly organized in it...I think jessamyn's idea might be a better use of it for us!
posted by epersonae at 10:22 AM on September 24, 2013


Get one box and throw it all in there together.

This is not organized.
This is 'shove and stuff'.
Which is a time-honored cleaning method.
But it isn't organized.
posted by madajb at 10:26 AM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


On the toolbox tip, DeWalt has TSTAK and ToughBox toolbox systems (and Bosch has L-BOXX) that allow you to buy separate inexpensive toolboxes of different kinds that you can stack and clip together, so you can build your big-ass toolchest one box at a time.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:37 AM on September 24, 2013


A drawback to Sistema is the little plasticky insulator thing in the lids. You really need to pry that out to be able to clean the entire lid, otherwise things will grow there.
Huh. I never pry that bit out and I've never seen anything growing. Maybe I'm just gross? We don't have a dishwasher either though so it all gets scrubbed with soapy water which seems to get in there OK, fiddly bits and all, so maybe not?


I've found that they're not especially watertight, so things like tipping them on their side while full of liquidy stuff is bad.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:45 AM on September 24, 2013


Yeah, on first glance I don't care for all the little clippy things on the Sistema lids. I like those Rubbermaids with the clip on lids.

I just sent my wife an email with the subject "Rubbermaid Proposal." I hope she doesn't make me come up with an ROI report or Powerpoint slides or anything.

God help me, I'm working on a plan to organize my organizers. It's Rubbermaid all the way down.
posted by bondcliff at 10:56 AM on September 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Whereas the slightly older Sistema containers we have are the only ones I've ever found that *are* watertight. The newer ones don't seem to be as good though, now I think about it.
posted by shelleycat at 11:03 AM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


naoko: "Ditto Eyebrows that it helps to have a car, and adding that it also helps to be remotely near a Goodwill (or similar) - and one that accepts donations, because not all of them do. Where live (Northwest DC), the closest donation centers are 1. waaaaay across town in Northeast or 2. in Arlington, by route of hellish traffic. Neither one is on the way to anywhere else I ever drive. I still do it a lot (out of a pathological commitment to recycling)."

There are a handful of drop-boxes in parking garages if you know where to look. I forget which organization they belonged to, but I remember there was one in the parking garage of my ex's building (in Columbia Heights), and I know that I've seen them elsewhere.
posted by schmod at 11:07 AM on September 24, 2013


No, no, no, everybody's doing it wrong but me! If everyone in the world adopted my tips for efficient living, they'd all be happier! GRAHHHH!
posted by not_on_display at 11:09 AM on September 24, 2013


Goodwill, cystic fibrosis, etc regularly calls asking if we have stuff to donate. They drive to our house and pick it up. So, we keep a running pile of junk to donate and it just magically goes away.

I've been doing the one type of black sock for over 10 years now. Works great, but occasionally my sock of choice gets discontinued or I build up enough faded old socks that I can't successfully incorporate a new batch without dealing with a sorting problem, so it is sockpocalypse time.

I have made several attempts at solving the tupperware problem, but still haven't succeeded. Buy in from Ms. Fimbulvetr would help. Every couple of years I lose it, and do a mass cull and replacement with the New One Perfect Plastic Container. It never lasts. This is inspiring me to try it again with Ziplock twist-and-locks.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:18 AM on September 24, 2013


my sock collection includes:

low white ankle athletic socks for summer biking, summer sneakers like chuck taylors etc.
crew length patterned cotton socks for wearing with boots in spring/fall
crew length patterned wool socks for wearing with boots or biking in winter
knee length patterned cotton socks for cuteness & biking in spring/fall
knee length patterned wool socks for cuteness & biking in winter

the joy that these options give me far outweighs the slight hassle of matching socks. you can pry my argyle and my stripes and my polka dots from my cold, dead calves. i have four hampers throughout my house (good tip! if you keep picking up piles of clothes from certain rooms or corners of rooms, put a hamper there) so inevitably there are mate-less socks in a load of laundry. i just put them on top of the sock drawer until the mate shows up. maybe once a year i do a sock drawer purge and get rid of thin/stretched out/holey/terminally mate-less socks.

i have two garbage bags of goodwill-destined clothing plus a box of shoes and purses that have been moved in and out of the car several times. this happens when you only drive once a week, and never near a goodwill. i keep considering just putting them out in the alley with the garbage in the hopes people will sift through it before it gets thrown out, but i would feel so guilty if rain got to it first and ruined it all.

for tupperware, i mostly buy the cheapo stuff from the grocery store. even in my small kitchen, i'm able to dedicate one drawer for square/rectangle lids and another for round lids. the containers themselves mostly stack (square in one stack, round in the other).
posted by misskaz at 11:23 AM on September 24, 2013


I'm trying to come to grips with the idea not everything needs to be put away all the time and maybe there's some stuff to learn here;

If at all possible, designate a playroom. Preferably an actual separate room, or at the very least, a gated/fenced area. _Not_ just a corner.
All kids toys, devices, etc must be played with in the said playroom or returned there at the end of the day/ play session.

When the kid is young, get them in the habit of returning things to the playroom, even if it's so close to the door it only technically counts as "in the room".
As they get older, they can work on putting things into the assigned location within the playroom itself.

Of course, with most children, things are going to spread, but it'll keep 90% of it under control.
posted by madajb at 11:27 AM on September 24, 2013


I disagree with 9. Part of the joy in life is wearing mismatched socks!

Concur! I have very deliberately worn mismatched socks for years. Target sells packs of 6 or 8 socks in varying patterns and colors that complement each other, but do not match. It is quite a relief to not have to mate socks after laundry or before packing for a vacation. I just pull some socks out and go.
posted by MissySedai at 11:34 AM on September 24, 2013


I am a sticker for matched socks. It makes me feel more 'put together'.
Bins YES! See through!!!!
But we have had bug issues in our building, so bins must have lids. As long as they are see through it is good. I love the kid's book-case tip.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:48 AM on September 24, 2013


1. Banish all lids from your house.

Nuh-UH. The purpose of the lid is to keep the damned dust out of the container. Any container that does not have a lid on it will, in the fullness of time, fill up with dust, and crumbs, and lint, and cat fur, and all the inexorable entropic gnir of earthly life, and it is IMMENSELY more tedious to clean all of that out of a box that is already full of stuff than to just lift the damn lid when I want to move something into or out of the box.
posted by Kat Allison at 12:20 PM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


She left out my number one tip:

1. Never allow another human being into your living space, even the landlord, even if you really need him to fix that one issue, because it is easier to live with the problem than to contemplate trying to make your apartment look like a place where a real grown-up human lives.

(I actually force myself to invite friends over sometimes, to jumpstart my guilt complex and pick things up-- but having people over makes another mess, and I'm just never willing to go the same effort for the sake of having that one broken tile patched up.)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:29 PM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


The "put everything where you can see it" advice has saved my sanity. My kitchen doesn't look all sleek and stark with pots and lids hanging on the wall, but cooking dinner is a lot more pleasant now that I no longer find myself on the verge of tears at the prospect of taking everything out of the cabinet to find the right pan and putting it all back again every night.

The opposite is unfortunately true, too, though, at least for me. I had the brilliant idea to declutter my desk by taking the half-dozen bottles of prescription meds off the surface and putting them neatly into the top drawer--but then I never actually took them because they weren't right there in my face every morning anymore.
posted by rhiannonstone at 1:15 PM on September 24, 2013


Never allow another human being into your living space, even the landlord, even if you really need him to fix that one issue, because it is easier to live with the problem than to contemplate trying to make your apartment look like a place where a real grown-up human lives.


I totally expected this line to go a different way

Never allow another human being into your living space, even the landlord, even if you really need her to fix that one issue, because the place is finally clean and other people just wreck it (see also: eating and sleeping, total chaos agents)
posted by jessamyn at 1:15 PM on September 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rationalization is nice, I prefer a neat, tidy and orderly existance.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:18 PM on September 24, 2013


I had the brilliant idea to declutter my desk by taking the half-dozen bottles of prescription meds off the surface

In the interest of not getting sick, I've been doing the opposite: My collection of prescription and nonprescription meds is getting bigger and bigger in the tiny space between the monitor and the wall next to my desk. I may need to install a medicine chest next to the monitor soon.
posted by mittens at 1:18 PM on September 24, 2013


I actually have a glass of pills that just sits in my bathroom because I was forever losing the bottles or being unable to open them when I needed to.
posted by jessamyn at 1:35 PM on September 24, 2013


Tired of many different lids? Hop on the Liilypad and your cares will go away!

Now try and fit more than two or three of those in your fridge, with everything else already in there. Those huge overhangs are gonna be real PITAs.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:45 PM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


my one cool tip for keeping the house clutter-free is to put it on the market. with the constant threat of only 24hours notice before a showing, my house has never been so consistently clean.
posted by misskaz at 1:55 PM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


"1. ... Banish all lids from your house."

"22. ... [Store] your tupperware with the lids on."

ILLOGICAL! ILLOGICAL! PLEASE EXPLAIN!
posted by kyrademon at 3:56 PM on September 24, 2013


My house came with the best "hack" ever for laundry: A laundry chute. We didn't use it at first, but now, it's amazing. All dirty laundry, once removed, is immediately sent down the chute to be dealt with later. It's great and keeps clutter in the unfinished part of the basement.

Sounds good, but I think my downstairs neighbors might have a problem with this.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:16 PM on September 24, 2013


Some day, I will catch up on Laundry.
heh, as a friend is fond of saying: "If you're not doing the laundry naked, the laundry is never done."
posted by dbmcd at 4:19 PM on September 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Now that I live somewhere with laundry in the building I am a lot better about doing laundry, unsurprisingly. It is also very helpful that I found out fast that virtually all my neighbors have the same feeling about appropriate laundry day clothing, which is anything at all you have laying around, including bathrobes.
posted by elizardbits at 4:24 PM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


As long as the socks are about the same length I just wear two regardless of how perfectly they match. They're all black and no one is getting down on the floor to check if they're an exact match.

So you say. I was delayed from getting on stage to perform Bach (my socks show to mid-calf when sitting and playing my instrument) when the musical director noticed I had two different black-ish socks on. There was a drug/convenience store still open nearby - I ended up with knee-high sheer black hose over my men's ribbed socks.
posted by Dreidl at 4:34 PM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Naoko: my sister tells me it's basically impossible to get rid of stuff once you're there [in New York]...

I disagree. In the basement of my apartment building is the giveaway table, where people put sometimes not so nice, sometimes insanely nice things. This is where I got a brand-new white erase board, a desk lamp, swanky wine glasses, cat food bowls, and various wall calendars over the years.

Larger items such as furniture might be slightly more difficult to off-load, but many places will pick up your donations (such as Housing Works) and somebody just pointed out TaskRabbit to me, so that's another option.

And welcome to NYC, in advance!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:16 PM on September 24, 2013


"If you're not doing the laundry naked, the laundry is never done."

One day in college there was a knock on my door, and a freshman who lived down the hall asked to borrow a pair of underwear because she needed to do laundry. I paused for a moment to make sure she wasn't kidding, then explained in my best Miss Manners tone that this is what swimsuits are for.

Kids' socks are the bane of my existence. This is not a small part of my willingness to cheerfully let my kids run around in Crocs as much as possible.
posted by ambrosia at 5:37 PM on September 24, 2013


There are a handful of drop-boxes in parking garages if you know where to look. I forget which organization they belonged to...

Probably PlanetAid? I totally forgot about those, and it looks like there are THREE in my zip code - amazing. You may have saved me from completely losing my mind as I continue trying to get rid of stuff before my move, thanks!
posted by naoko at 6:46 PM on September 24, 2013


Where live (Northwest DC), the closest donation centers are 1. waaaaay across town in Northeast or 2. in Arlington, by route of hellish traffic. Neither one is on the way to anywhere else I ever drive.

Bummer. I also live in NW DC, also have an unending stream of stuff to get rid of, and (thanks to a friend who is coincidentally downsizing more severely) have just acquired a car. I do live a few blocks from Martha's Table, but I think they're a bit picky about what they accept.

Probably PlanetAid?

I hope that's not the for-profit company that funnels its donations into stupid crap, because I want to dispose of stuff as unthinkingly as possible and I seem to remember one of those drop-box companies is a total scam.
posted by psoas at 9:06 PM on September 29, 2013


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