The "3 Things" Rule: Inching Toward Cleanliness

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Let me tell you about something that has been working in our house for the past few weeks. First though, l should admit that we are a family that hates cleaning. We put it off as long as possible until one of us cracks and initiates a whirlwind cleaning campaign around the house, which usually leaves everyone tired and grumpy because we just lost a perfectly good weekend.

So, in the quest for an ever-cleaner home, I declared that I was implementing the "3 Things" rule as part of our daily routine in 2014. It really works for me in particular because when I'm putting things away, I often get distracted by the to-dos in each room as I move around. With this rule, however, I can easily keep focused for a measly 3 things. It's ridiculously simple, and here's how to play...

  1. When you get home, before you settle down to eat, read, or do whatever you do, put away 3 things. They can be anything from nail clippers to a Zappos box, as long as they are put where they belong. The rule to this rule is that these things must be in addition to your normal chores (example: in our house, putting away dishes is a daily chore, so a dish is not eligible as one of the "things").

  2. If, after you have put your 3 things away, the urge to continue cleaning arises, don't fight it! But more importantly, don't feel pressured to continue when you want to stop. My fiancé got really excited on the first day and went on a cleaning spree, only to burn himself out almost immediately after. As I mentioned before, we are not a cleaning household.

  3. Adjust your quota accordingly. For us, 3 things per person per day seems to keep us ahead of the clutter, but you may find that you need to increase that number. Just make sure not to overwhelm your chore-hating selves.

  4. Don't limit yourself to putting things away. You can also include tasks as part of the rule. For instance, you might put away something, pay a bill, and finally package up that Zappos box for return (I'm a fan, can you tell?).

If all goes well, you should find this rule harder to follow each day as your home gets cleaner (and hopefully not as you lose motivation). Now, if I could just train my dogs to follow the rule, my house would be immaculate.

Have you tried something like the "3 Things" Rule? What were your results, and how long were you able to keep it up?

(Image credits: Jonya & Brad's Modern A-Frame Tour)

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