Cleaning Levels: Raise the Standard of Clean, Cleanliness, and the Quality of Your Life
When I moved to my first apartment, I would clean it when it got dirty. Then I would leave it alone and not do any additional cleaning until it got dirty again. The dirty house would make me angry or depressed. Then I would clean it again. Mostly I would clean when I was expecting company.
There would be extreme fluctuations between clean and dirty, and my moods would fluctuate accordingly. I never cleaned it enough to invite the queen or president for tea, but neither did I let it get bad enough for the health inspector to come knocking on my door. A graphical representation of my level of cleaning looked like this:
From Dirty to Cleaner
Can you guess when people came over? That's right, it seemed like they only came over when it was really dirty. Most people wouldn't say anything, but I could see their eyes focusing on the messiest areas of the place. There were some things I hadn't even realized were messy until I saw them look at one pile or another. They just had become my normal. Some people, particularly relatives, would say something, and that would make me feel even worse about myself.
Visitors hardly ever came over to visit when my place was extremely clean. But when they did, and they tried to compliment me on the clean place, it was awkward for me. I felt guilty about the state of my apartment, and the compliment reminded me that the place doesn't always look like this.
One day, I decided to do something about this problem. I decided that the key to having a cleaner place is to clean it before it gets as bad. Once I did this, I realized that by raising the minimum threshold of cleaning, I was improving the level of cleanliness in the house.
Raising my Standard of Cleanliness
Once I realized that I was raising the standard of cleanliness of my house, I decided that I should keep raising it from time to time. I saw that by raising the standard of cleanliness, I was showing myself and the world that I was worth this level of cleanliness. I kept the house clean for me, not for company. Keeping the house clean also raised the quality of my life. I was living in a cleaner, nicer environment. I was able to see all the pretty things I had bought, and they looked good. I had spent a great deal of time decorating the place, and the clutter kept people from being able to see how lovely my place really was.
I thought I should keep increasing the standard of cleanliness. This way, my house would always be at 80%. This seemed like an impossible goal, because it seemed like I was spending all my free time cleaning, and I had other things I wanted to do. I wanted to live life.
Even Level of Cleanliness
How did I even my level of cleanliness to a reasonable level? I realized that I needed to clean something every day. Each day, I clean either the area that is the dirtiest, or the area that is on my list to target. I joined FlyLady, a free newsgroup of cleaning ideas, and followed some of her ideas. She sends email reminders and inspirational articles that really helped me in my cleaning.
I read a lot of cleaning books, and realized that I need to get rid of my clutter instead of trying to organize it.
Cleaning the house every day doesn't take any more time than emergency cleaning did. Instead of spending a whole weekend to clean the house, I just take a few minutes each day to pick up some things, throw away clutter, and wipe down some surfaces. Is it perfect? No, I don't even try for perfection anymore. It doesn't have to be spotless, because it won't be long before it gets cleaned again. I want a nice level feeling of clean whenever I enter a room.
By cleaning every day, the level of cleanliness in the house has increased, and I feel much better about myself. Sure it is possible to increase the level even higher, but I am satisfied with its current state. When visitors come, they see a house that is lived in. They see a house that is relatively clean.
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