Who else has scoffed at cleaning books and thought, "Yeah, OK"? They just seem unrealistic, and nobody has time for that, anyway. But before you accept that your home will forever be a pigsty, there's a book out there that speaks to people like you and me. Rachel Hoffman's Unf*ck Your Habitat: You're Better Than Your Mess is the cleaning guide that you've always needed. It sets totally doable goals while keeping in mind that you have a life.
"[Other housekeeping systems] tend to ignore single people, or people without kids, or students, or people with pets, or people with roommates, or people with full-time jobs or classes or other sh*t going on. They ignore people with physical or mental illnesses or other limitations that don't allow for complicated, involved housekeeping on an inflexible schedule."
So, who is this book for? Busy people, lazy people, young adults living on their own, those with disabilities, and pretty much anybody who wants a happy medium between the KonMari method and living like a slob.
Unf*ck Your Habitat makes the case that other cleaning guides based on marathon purges aren't sustainable at all. You clean like crazy for an entire day or two, and then your place reverts back to the tornado-hit clutter that it was. Hoffman instead suggests spending a few minutes each day to maintain a little organisation. It works with your life rather than disrupting it.
Another amazing thing about this guide is that it makes you separate who you are as a person from the state of your living space. Having a messy place doesn't mean you're a lazy or gross person. "All of this judgment surrounding cleaning can be completely counter-productive. The more we feel like we're bad or lesser people because of what our homes look like, the less likely we are to do anything about it." So, the first thing you need to throw away is the notion that you are your mess.
Cleaning With Anxiety and Depression
UFYH also points out the connection between your mess and mental state. The last thing anyone struggling with depression wants to do is to clean, but looking at their mess only makes them feel worse. And those with anxiety could actually worsen their state if cleaning triggers certain stresses, like the need to getting it all done in a particular way. But instead of completely ignoring your mess or obsessing over it, Hoffman sprinkles mini challenges throughout her book that help you tackle bit by bit.
"Most important: do what you can."
- Look at the nearest nightstand, coffee table, or desk. Set a five-minute timer and clear off as much as you can within that window. "You can get right back in bed when you're done."
- Bring all of your dirty dishes to the sink and fill it with hot soapy water. Let them soak.
- After your shower, put your dirty clothes in the hamper.
- Put away 10 things that aren't in their right places.
- Set a 10-minute timer and tidy up as much as you can. Hang your clothes, take the trash out, put things away, etc.
Basically, make it a habit to get the bare minimum done each day (making your bed, keeping clothes off the floor, washing dishes) so that you're not overwhelmed by the giant task of a room makeover. Now that's something we can do. Happy cleaning!