Lisa D. (chaoticidealism) wrote,
Lisa D.

How to clean a room

My method for cleaning up a room. Works for people with mild-to-moderate executive dysfunction and decent sorting skills. It takes longer but gets the job done. For a very messy room, count on spending six to eight hours for the first time. A room that hasn't been cleaned in three days or less will take about twenty minutes.

I learned how to do this when I was about twelve years old, and didn't do it regularly until I was an adult. Before that, there were a lot of arguments about my not "wanting" to clean my room--when in reality, I simply had no idea where to start.

How to Clean Your Room

Print out this list and tape it to the wall somewhere, or you'll probably get lost. It's a bit complex, but has the advantage of always having a "next step". Cross off steps as you do them.

Before you start, get a wet rag for cleaning and dusting. Keep this rag in the same place (a pocket works; you will get your clothes wet, but it's better than getting stuck because the rag isn't where you expect it to be).

If you don't have a trash can, find one. If this is a big job, find a roll of trash bags, too. Put them just outside your door so you won't lose them while you're cleaning.

1. Start at the door. Work to the right.

2. Every piece of furniture you come to, use this method (A closet could count; but decide now whether you want to include it--if you don't have time, you may decide not to. If you keep a book bag, purse, etc. somewhere, find a permanent place for it and count it as a piece of furniture):
---a. Take everything off the piece of furniture that doesn't belong there. (That includes in and under it.) Put these things on the floor.
---b. Clean the piece of furniture with your rag. Put the rag back in your pocket.
---c. If your piece of furniture is a bed, determine whether the sheets are dirty. If they are, take them off the bed and throw them on the floor. (You're putting everything that doesn't belong on the floor at this point.)
---d. If your piece of furniture is a closet or other storage device, don't worry about organizing it. Just take everything out that doesn't belong there. I know very well how organizing something like that can take hours. You may do this afterwards, if you still have the energy to do so.

3. Work to the right. Do the same thing to the next piece of furniture. When you hit the door again, do any furniture not sitting next to a wall as in 2.)

4. Toss your rag outside the door. You're done with it.

5. You now have a lot of things on your floor. Pile them up into a large heap in the center of the room.

6. Start sorting your heap. Take all clothes out of the pile, and put them in another pile by themselves. Then pick out all books and papers and put them in a pile by themselves. These things sit off to themselves because they are large and bulky (especially if you are changing your sheets) and will stop you seeing the other items in your pile.

7. Get your trash can or trash bag. (If you are using trash bags, leave the roll just outside your room.) Sort your remaining pile into two piles: Trash and not-trash. Put the trash in the bag or trash can and put the bag or can in the hallway.

8. Sort the remaining pile into "things that stay in this room" and "things that belong in another room". You should now have four piles.

9. If you didn't remove your sheets, make your bed. If you did, you should now have a bare mattress; if you didn't, your blankets make a similarly uncluttered work space. Use this as a sorting surface.

10. Sort the pile of things that belong in another room by the room they belong in. Take each item and place it on the bed, sorted by room. Then take each pile to the room where it belongs.

11. Sort the pile of things that belong in your room by the piece of furniture where they should be stored, again by moving them from the big pile on the floor to the piles on your bed. Take each small pile and put it on the correct piece of furniture.

12. Use your bed, similarly, to sort your clothes between clean and dirty. Take the dirty pile and dump it outside the door, where you put your rag. Fold the clean clothes and stack them by type. Then put each stack on, in, or near the piece of furniture where it belongs.

13. Use your bed again to sort your books-and-papers stack into books versus papers.

14. Sort the books into "books that belong in my room", "books that belong elsewhere", and "library books".
---a.) Take the books that belong in another room, sort them by room, and take them to the rooms where they belong.
---b.) Sort the books that belong in your room by the piece of furniture where they belong (this may be just one bookcase, but you could have more than that). Put them in, on or near that piece of furniture.
---c.)Take the library books and put them in one place, depending on whether you want to keep them in your room or elsewhere. I recommend putting them on your desk or nightstand for now.

15. Get your trash can or trash bag again. Take the pile of papers. Sort them into "keep" and "throw away" piles. Put the "throw away" pile in your trash bag or can. Put the "keep" papers all in one place--in a box or drawer of their own. You may decide to sort and file them later.

16. You should now have a pile near or on each piece of furniture in your room, made up of things that belong on that piece of furniture. Starting from the door again, moving to your right, put the items into or on their respective places.

17. There are two things outside your door: Your trash can or bag and a pile of dirty laundry. Take the dirty laundry and put it in the hamper or laundry room. If you have one or more trash bags, take them out to the house trash can. If you have a trash can, empty it and put it in a convenient location in your room.

18. If you took the sheets off your bed, get sheets for your bed out of the linen closet. If you cannot find any clean sheets, you may have to do the laundry (this is another procedure altogether, but skip this step for now if you cannot find sheets.) You could also ask someone else in the house if they know where the clean sheets are.

19. Find the vacuum cleaner and vacuum the floor. If you have a linoleum or tile floor, find the broom and sweep it. Put the resulting dust in your trash can. Put the broom or vacuum cleaner back where you found it.

20. Enjoy your clean room!

Things to do afterwards, if you have energy left:
--Do the laundry, especially if you don't have clean sheets yet.
--Sort or file the pile of papers.
--Organize the contents of one or more individual pieces of furniture. You may have newly folded clothes together with wadded-up but clean clothes from before you cleaned your dresser, for example; or your bookcase might be messy, with books lying on their sides, just piled onto the shelves.
--Wash windows and mirrors.
--If you ignored your closet initially, you may decide to organize it now. Use a similar pile system, with just the closet rather than your whole room.
--Establish a schedule for when you will clean your room in the future. It will not be nearly as hard to do as the initial cleaning, and should only take about twenty minutes. I recommend twice a week.
Tags: executive dysfunction
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