How the 5 things method makes cleaning less stressful

According to a therapist.

Feeling overwhelmed by household cleaning and tidying is a common experience for many people.  

While we’ve discussed various cleaning and organisation methods to help you maintain a tidy home (from The FlyLady cleaning method to the CORE 4 decluttering method), sometimes it can still feel like an uphill battle. 

How the five things tidying method works

However, we’ve stumbled upon a new approach that simplifies the process and encourages a shift in mindset toward self-compassion.  

Licensed professional therapist and author KC Davis offers an insightful perspective in her book How to Keep House While Drowning.  

how to keep house while drowning

According to Davis, “Good enough is perfect.” Your house being a mess doesn’t mean you are lazy or a slob; it means you have a lot going on. 

When your house is a mess, and you’ve got nothing left to give, Davis says to remember there are only five types of messes: rubbish, dishes, laundry, things with a place, and things without a place. 

Davis explains that when targeting these messes while cleaning, “You can see progress really quickly…and the pleasure centre of your brain responds to seeing that progress, and then that progress becomes the motivation.” 

In a nutshell, if you deal with these messes, your home will feel livable again.  

How to clean your home using the five things tidying method

Put on your cleaning hat and work your way through the following list.

  • Rubbish: Zip around your space and gather all the rubbish, putting it in a garbage bag or the bin, but refrain from throwing it out.
  • Dishes: Collect all dirty dishes and place them in the sink or dishwasher. Resist the urge to clean them immediately. 
  • Laundry: Gather dirty clothes from various surfaces and pile them near the rubbish bag. There is no need to start laundry just yet. 
  • Things with a place: Take a moment to return misplaced items to their designated spots around the room. 
  • Things without a place: Address any new items that lack a designated home. Decide whether to discard them or designate a storage spot. 

Voila, now you’ve contained the messes in your home, making it more livable without feeling overwhelmed. 

Now you can take the rubbish out, move the clothes to the laundry and wash them or leave them for another day, and do the dishes (or return them later). Remember, you’ve just ticked a huge box on your to-do list and you don’t have to do everything at once. 

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