The Daily Load

What are you carrying around with you every day?

Take your backpack, laptop bag and/or purse, wallet and beltware and lay it all out on the table.

Do you really need all this shit with you all the time? Do some weeding to optimize your kit.

Are you using the right thing to carry it all around? Last time I did this exercise I changed to a smaller laptop bag which sets an upper ceiling on the amount of stuff which can accrete into my routine load.

Don't forget to create the mini-kit that has just the essentials for a walk or evening out. I have a simple little wallet sized pouch that holds my transit passes, ATM card, credit card, paper money, health care card, driver's license, small pieces of yellow paper and space pen. With that, my keys and my mobile phone (with its built-in camera), I'm pretty much ready for anything that doesn't require my computer.

Get in the habit of quickly returning your bag and kit to its base condition – toss that extra change into a jar on your dresser, throw out the wrappers, put the receipts in with your bills, etc. – at least once a week. Your back will thank you.

The Drawer

Everyone has "the drawer". Usually it's in the kitchen and it's where the extra pushpins and rubber bands and measuring tape and matches and and and all go.

Today's task is to go through that drawer (or the most over-stuffed one if you have several) and do these things:

– throw out the crap you'll never use or that is just broken junk

– move the things that are really too large for that drawer to a better location

– move the things that actually have a home with more of their kind to their proper spot

– put the things that are alike together, and bag them in zip bags or little containers if that makes the drawer easier to deal with

– throw out the things of which you have too many (10 rubberbands = good, 200 rubberbands = put them in a bag and give them back to your paperboy)

– move the things that you would never think of looking for in that drawer to where you would think of looking for them

Ah, now that's a bit better, isn't it?

Traffic Controller

Today, all you need to do is take a little inventory of your Outbound Traffic and any errands you have planned for tomorrow.

Determine the most efficient route for you to drop stuff off at charity or return large items to friends along with doing your other errands.

Got anything to go back to the library? Get that in your plan; it only takes a moment to swing by the book drop when you're already out and about.

Any bills or letters need to go in the mail this weekend? Write them out tonight, stamp and address them, and plan where you'll swing by a mailbox in your travels.

Either tonight or in the morning, stage everything that you'll be taking right by the door. Then when the time comes, carry out the trash and recycling, load up the car and head on out.

Into the frozen wastes…

Do the dishes so the sink is empty. Wipe it down after so it's clean & dry.

Take everything out of the freezer and put it all in the sink.

Quickly wipe down the inside of the freezer with a few paper towels.

Quickly put back into the freezer the things which you know what they are and that they are still fresh.

If you have ice cube trays, empty them into an ice container and set them aside to wash them before you refill them with water.

Close the freezer door if you haven't been closing it between things all along.

Evaluate the remaining stuff in the sink. Anything freezer-burned and nasty goes in the trash. Anything completely unidentifiable goes in the trash. Anything that is over 6 months old goes in the trash.

Got anything left? Could you make a nice soup with it? Do you want to eat it? If the answer to both of those is "no". Throw the damn stuff away.

Take out the trash.


Bad Medicine

It's time to give your medicine cabinet an emetic. Purge it now of all expired medications, beauty products you know you'll never use and any other useless crap clogging up your shelves.

Prescription drugs, especially antibiotics, hormone medications, and antidepressants should never be flushed down the toilet. Modern treatment facilities are not designed to remove those medications. You can minimize their impact on the environment by taking all your unwanted or expired medicines to an appropriate disposal facility. Find out where by calling your local pharmacist; in many of the saner parts of the world, this safe facility will be your pharmacist. You may also be able to find information on the web through a site like Safe Drug Disposal California (which I have quoted above).

Unused and non-rancid cosmetics and other sundries can often be donated to local homeless shelters. Into the Charity bag!

If you think you might need something, but you haven't needed it in the last year, put it in a box or a bag with a label saying "Dispose of this after [a date 6 months from now]".

For bonus points: now that there's less clutter, take a moment to wipe down all the shelves. Mmm, happy bathroom.

Friday Freedom

Maybe you'll take the rest of the weekend off, but before you do, take fifteen minutes to a happier home. Tonight set your sights on the kitchen. Ready?

Find 10 things that you don't want in your kitchen anymore. You get more bonus points the bigger they are.

Kick them out to the trash, put them in your charity bag or start a yard sale box.

Gone. Done. Better.

Go for the Record

This will take less than an hour and your home will be much nicer afterwards. Ready?

1. Prepare two empty paper sacks (or other bags or boxes that you don't need to keep). Make sure additional bags are handy.

2. Select an album to listen to. You will work steadily through the entire album, so make it a perky one that you like all the songs on.

Good:  The Beatles – Abbey Road, The Beastie Boys – Licensed to Ill, Cherry Poppin' Daddies – Zoot Suit Riot, The Clash – London Calling, Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True, Devo – Duty Now for the Future, The Police – Ghost in the Machine, Propellerheads – decksandrumsandrockandroll, Squirrel Nut Zippers – Hot, or just about any Talking Heads, funk or swing album.

Bad: songs that make you cry, gregorian chants, Leonard Cohen, new age ambient space pudding.

3. Start the music. Get as far down the following list as you can. Don't stop and do other things; do them after this album finishes.

4. Take a large trashbag. Empty all the little trash containers in the house into it. Put it by the door.

5. Take one of the empty paper sacks. Put all the recyclables in it. (If your neighborhood requires separating them into paper, glass, etc., you may need multiple sacks at this step.) Keep today's paper if you haven't read it yet, otherwise recycle 'em all. Put any catalog you are not actively planning to buy from in the bag; they will send you another any day now, you know. Put the sack(s) by the door.

6. Carry all dishes into the kitchen and gather them by or in the sink. Ditto any dirty pans, etc. around the kitchen. You should fill crusty pans with hot water and a bit of soap now to make washing easier later.

7. (optional step for multi-person households) Take one bag for each shared room and put into it all the stuff that doesn't belong in that room and isn't yours. (Put your own doesn't-belong stuff on your bed and deal with it after you finish the rest of the list or during the last song on the album). Write "IS ANY OF THIS YOURS?" on the side of the bag and leave it in the middle of the room.

8. Put your dirty clothes in the dirty clothes basket. If you do not have one, put a piece of paper on the fridge and write at the top "SHOPPING" and put "laundry basket" under that.

9. Hang up or put away the clean clothes.

10. Put dirty towels (especially the ones from the kitchen!) in the laundry basket. Put out fresh towels. (If you only have one set of towels, put "more towels" on the shopping list and only move the dirty ones if you have time to do laundry right after this album).

11. If the sheets are dirty, take them off and put clean ones on. (If you only have one set of sheets, put "second set of sheets" on the
shopping list and only move the dirty ones if you have time to do
laundry right after this album).

12. Wash the dishes or load the dishwasher.

13. Carry out the trash and recyclables.

14. If you are blessed with laundry facilities in your building, start the laundry. Don't forget to check the pockets for forgotten items!

15.  Use your cobweb duster to clean up the ceiling corners and around ceiling lamps. (If you do not have a cobweb duster and have ceilings too high to reach with a short duster, put "cobweb duster" on the shopping list).

16. Use your short duster (I like a big ostrich feather one) throughout the house. (If you don't have one, put it on the shopping list).

17. Sweep the hard floors.

18. Vacuum the carpets.

19. If you got this far, you obviously have a very clean place already and should now fix yourself a tasty beverage. You may dance to the rest of the album.

Start trying to do this one-album cleanup regularly until you can get to where you do it every week. I like to do it Wednesday or Thursday night so the house is looking pretty good when the weekend starts. Those with pets and/or children may need to do it much more often, though, of course, sheets only need to be changed when dirty.