Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The House that Cleans Itself: Preparation

This is part of a series of posts on The House that Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark. I will be recording what I have done and what's left to be done to transform my house into "one that cleans itself." I will also be helping my Mom work on her house and she has graciously given me permission to blog about her transformation, too. You can find all the posts in the series by looking for the label HTCI.

Before starting to work in each room, Mindy Starns Clark devotes about half the book laying the groundwork for the action you're about to take. There's a shift in perspective which needs to happen--a shift towards living more simply, towards thinking about your stuff differently and about approaching housekeeping without emotion. They are very important chapters and one of the reasons I'm so enthusiastic about this approach. There are, also, a few concrete steps which need to be taken in order to begin. I'm going to outline them today.

#1. Set up a notebook.

Hooray! My absolute favourite thing to do. (Weird, I know.)

#2 Draw a "Flow Plan." This is a floor plan of your house and yard, (including the car) drawn roughly to scale.

#3. Outline all the zones of your house. Number them in the order you intend to tackle them. Here's mine:

Two provisos:
a) The entryway, Clark suggests, should be #1. (In the book, she uses this area to discuss all the steps of converting your home from what it is to one that cleans itself).
b) Figure out your "Home Base Zone."

The Home Based Zone (or HBZ) is a place that "When it is clean you feel an inordinate amount of satisfaction and when it is dirty you feel an inordinate amount of irritation and stress." For me, that's the dishes and the kitchen counter.

Taken Tuesday morning at 7:30 am. Sorry for the blurriness.

I'm not entirely clear which one you are to tackle first, the HBZ or Area #1, but it doesn't really matter. There are a few things to do before you tackle anything.

The next thing reminds me of the "Clutter Detective Tour" you take in the FUNdamentals of Getting Organized at Simplify 101.

To do this step properly, though, Clark says you have to let your house "fall apart" for a period of time. I do wish I had read this before I started cleaning the house last week! (I hope) I'll never let the house go for two months ever again!

#4. Go through your house following the Flow Plan and write down every housekeeping issue you see either on a sheet of paper in your notebook or these sheets provided by the author here. Then, get up on a step ladder and take a few pictures.

#5a. Print your pictures and sit down and record what you see.

#5b. Get to the cause of it. The most important part of this exercise is to figure out why. Why is the back pack on the chair and not in the closet? (Closet is too far away. The hooks are full) Why are the papers scattered all over the table? (The papers have no proper home. No system for being dealt with.) Why is this particular counter or table top or whatever always cluttered?

I have done this sort of thing many, many times at my house. I am really curious to see what the process reveals to my Mom.

Just one thing, though. It's overwhelming to "walk through" the house this way. I am in the process of doing it and even I am finding it daunting--and my house isn't bad. I am afraid that folks like my Mom who live in partial denial just in order to cope will be immobilised by the exercise. I hope not.

Clark has a few more things for you to do (like talking to the folks who live with you about what you're about to do to their home, going on a prayer walk and setting up a devotional area) as well as a few chapters further explaining her approach.

But with these five steps, I'm ready to roll.

To recap:
1. Create a notebook. (done)
2. Draw a "Flow Plan" (done)
3. Number the Zones in your house in the order you plan to tackle them. (done)
4. Take a Tour (Gather Evidence) (in progress)
  • Write down any issues you see
  • Take pictures
5. Evaluate the Evidence.
  • Figure out the cause of the clutter and disorganization in any one particular spot. Don't over think this.


Becca said...

I'm slowly starting to do this at home ... But I think this is a book I need to read! Excited to see your progress.

Alana in Canada said...

Thanks, Becca. It is going to go more slowly than I'd thought initially.

Marie said...

Hi Alana,
Love all the info you are sharing.

Based on your blog posting I looked around my entry and decided what my home based zone is (I think I'll call it my Keep it Clear area). I cleared out some things, in the entry, that we no longer use on a regular basis and it already feels lighter.

I'm looking forward to seeing how your and your Mum's home get to the point where they clean themselves!


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