Try the “Complete the Cycle” Cleaning Method for Instant Results

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Elissa Crowe)

Having a home that’s generally in order pretty consistently— not to be confused with “perfect all the time”— is in large part a matter of habit. One such habit which has tremendous impact is one I call “completing the cycle.” Here’s how you can practice it at home.

Completing the cycle is a synergistic mix of Leaving Things As You Found Them and Not Leaving Things That Can Be Done Now For Later.

For instance, if you have a movie night at home, the cycle might include making popcorn, grabbing throw blankets, and having remotes within arm’s reach. Completing the cycle would entail taking the DVD out of the player (who remembers rewinding the video tape??!!!), putting it back in the case, putting the case where it belongs, re-corralling the remotes, putting the blankets away, and taking the popcorn bowl to the kitchen (and preferably washing it). Doing these things takes a few minutes and leaves you with an in-order room to go to the next day.

My personal household chore nemesis, putting the laundry away, is also a problem that would be solved by completing the cycle. Not to overstate the case, but laundry is a cycle of putting dirty clothes in the hamper, sorting, washing, drying, folding, and putting clean clothes away. Not completing this particular cycle trips the whole thing up.

Other examples of completing the cycle would be refilling the toilet paper roll and putting the empty roll in the recycling, putting the cereal back in the pantry after filling the kids’ bowls, and putting a new bag in the garbage can after taking the trash out. (Anyone ever dump coffee grounds into a garbage can with no liner in it?? Ahhh!!! I cannot wait until Optimal Bagging releases their product.)

Completing the cycle creates that self-perpetuating condition of cleanliness begetting cleanliness and means that, like a stitch in time saving nine, by putting things away a few minutes at a time in the moment, you’ll spend a lot less time putting your whole house back together in the future. And you’ll live in a less cluttered, much more peaceful environment all the time.

Re-edited from a post originally published 7.10.15-NT