I just spent an entire day looking for the only car key ….INSIDE MY HOUSE. In the end I found it, but in the mean time I was imagining my life going forward not being able to afford to replace it right away ($120 JUST for the key and more for the fob) and what I would do until I did replace it. How would I get to work, the laundry etc… as a side activity my brain was wondering where the hell it could have gotten to!!
Lets go back to the beginning. I have not only reached the age where I forget things, but I have always had a certain level of ADHD where I get busy with something and can easily put something in the wrong place and be unaware that I did it. For this and may other reasons…I HAVE RULES.
The Car Key Rule:. This car came with one key…a very expensive one, the key not the car… It can ONLY be in one of three places… in my bag hanging on the back of the kitchen door, in the pocket of whatever coat I happen to be wearing lately, also hanging on the back of the kitchen door OR on a rare occasion ON the kitchen table. So I searched the pockets of the two coats on the back of the door, I searched my bag (4 times), my camera bag, all the empty grocery bags, even the bags of laundry which I had loaded into the car. I searched the CAR and all the things IN the car, I searched the ground between the house and the car, I searched the kitchen table, I even searched the trash…the icky trash. I swept and washed the kitchen floor, and then I spent the rest of the day going through all the tool boxes under the kitchen table …then for good measure I cleaned some of the tools before putting them back in their homes. WHILE I was at the sink washing everything that needed a good angry scrub…I remembered that the weather was NICE yesterday and I wore a hoodie which I had put it away IN THE CLOSET instead of hanging it in the kitchen…. and I knew it would be in the pocket before I actually looked. So the rule worked. I just forgot what I was wearing yesterday.
Rules. I have a lot of rules, for a lot of reasons not just decluttering. I am not forgetful overall, I actually have a brain filled with more information than a normal person should have… but I get distracted and I also DITHER about decisions. The great thing about rules is that is a decision that is already made and I don’t have to dither about it, I just have to remember the rule.
Besides the CAR KEY Rule, the irreplacable items in my life have similar strict rules. My wallet, my phone and my eyeglasses are also not allowed to be put just anywhere. Although my glasses are allowed to live in my knitting bag when not on my face.
The US Mail Rule: US mail comes into the house, junk mail, flyers, etc go straight in the recycling. First class important mail, goes in my bag on the back of the door to be addressed, or it goes in a special place I put things I want to ignore or VERY Important Mail gets put on the fridge under a magnet where I can glare at it. Packages get opened immediately, and the packing material goes into the recycling. Catalogs I actually WANT to read, or papers or magazines I bring home go on the table next to the reading chair, after a week, they get tossed read or not.
The Kitchen Table Rule: Kitchen table gets completly cleaned off everyday, several times a day sometimes, since it’s my only work bench. Right now the only things that reside there are the kitchenaid and the bread making bowls. But they get pulled off when I have to sand and wash the table.
The Kitchen Counter Rule: …i don’t really have a rule…basically I keep it as clean as possible. The cats don’t get on it when I am looking but I imagine they do when I am not looking. So I wipe the entire thing down, before I cook anything everytime.
The Kitchen Sink Rule: I wash the dishes twice a day – I clean out the sink before I START cooking, then I wash everything in the sink AFTER I finish cooking. That allows me to just toss things into the sink after dinner or breakfast, but they will get washed before I make dinner again. So I am partway lazy. The corrollary rule about dishes and things is that EVERYTHING fits in a cabinet or hangs on a rack, if something doesn’t fit, something needs to leave.
The Hang Everything Rule: If at all possible hang things up. I have had pets and done rescue work for a very long time, they are cruel and unreasonable roommates; anything I care about has to be hung up. Coats, bags, knitting bags, camera bags, all hung from strategically placed coathooks, the same ones everytime. Besides the closet rod, I added two rods across the two doorways in my house using pvc and closet rod sockets, – this gives me a place to hang anything that is in transition – sheets, blankets, sleeping bags, damp clothes, whatever – but nothing just gets left in a pile or thrown over the furniture. I also used the pvc/rod sockets to add a pot/utensil rack over the sink. Some things that hang up: The broom hangs on the back of the cellar door, the Flashlight hangs next to the front door, the Dog Leash hangs on the back of the door, The lunch bag hangs up in the kitchen with the empty food containers inside, the umbrella hangs up inside the closet. The kitchen towels live in a bag that hangs on the wall. The rechargable drill lives hung up on a wall.
The Tote Bag Rules: I keep tote bags and reusable grocery bags on the door knobs in the kitchen (my kitchen has a lot doors) when I decree something is leaving, getting donated, or given away, I put it in a tote bag. When I leave the house any bags with stuff go with me. I am lucky I have a vehicle so I can leave something in the car until it gets delivered. But once it’s in the car I make a serious effort to drop it off.
Also hanging on the door handles is the library book bag, and a bag with the dog’s sweaters and leashes. Just lose ONE library book, ONE time and you get paranoid about it.
The Out the Door Rule: if something LEAVES the house, it can’t come back. I have a very tiny house, when I decided something has to leave, there is just no place for it to hang out. I miss my garage and my covered porches something fierce. When I do a BIG clean, I take things straight out the door to the porch. If something cant get to the thrift store or junk yard – it still stays out there, and I cover it with a tarp or trash bag. In my experience if I just push things around inside the house or put it in the cellar or attic, then it NEVER LEAVES. So the door is like an airlock.
There are more rules, these help with the clutter inside the house. Most of my rules exist to control what comes INTO the house which is where I faulter. I am a thrift store addict, I have given up trying to resist, I just make more rules.