Here are the twenty-seven most important rules for keeping your house in order:

1. Never buy “souvenirs.”

2. Somewhere, keep an entirely empty shelf or drawer.

3. Strive to keep surfaces bare. Put away kitchen appliances you don’t use every day; don’t cram stuff onto every ledge.

4. Get rid of newspapers and magazines as soon as possible. Never
keep a newspaper overnight, and never keep a magazine for more than two
months, unless you find a positive joy in keeping an orderly collection.

5. Have an exact place for everything.

6. Know where to give things away: books, clothes,
kitchenware, toys. It’s much easier to get rid of things if you can
imagine who will benefit. Figure this out before you start a major
clutter-clearing effort.

7. Fight the piles that accumulate in the hallway, in corners, on bedside tables, on the dining room table.

8. Use dimmer switches.

9. Don’t buy things on impulse, particularly from bargain stores.

10. Storing a thing means you don’t need to use it. So before you
squirrel something away, ask yourself, “Do I really need to keep this?”

11. Never accept anything for free, unless you’re thrilled with it. If you don’t need it, don’t take it.

12. According to “broken windows theory,” signs of decay like broken
windows or graffiti create an atmosphere that contributes to larger
crime. Burnt-out light bulbs and empty toilet-paper holders are the
broken windows of the home; don’t tolerate them.

13. Have enough hangers in every closet.

14. Make your bed every morning.

15. Keep your keys in the same place each day.

16. Every night before bed, do a tidy-up to put away everything that’s out of place.

17. If you have stacks of unopened CDs, unread books, unwatched
videos, or unopened spice jars, don’t let yourself buy any more until
you’ve made a dent in what you already have.

18. Don’t let yourself run out of necessities like envelopes, tape,
toothpaste, stamps, band-aids, batteries, and the like. If you hate to
shop, buy large quantities and stockpile them.

19. Don’t hoard huge quantities of things that you could never use
up: binder clips, rubber bands, clay pots, florist vases, plastic
grocery bags. Give the rest away.

20. Hang up your coat.

21. Buy a box-cutter. They really are handy.

22. If you have lots of things that you’re reluctant to throw away
because you’re not sure what they are, put them all in one box. You’ll
never use the stuff, but you’ll know it’s there.

23. Put a date on that box, and if you haven’t opened it in a year, throw it away.

24. Never allow a drawer or a closet to get so full that it’s hard to open and shut.

25. Get rid of things that don’t work.

26. Set aside a place where you put things to give away, and as soon
as you realize you want to get rid of something, put it there.

27. If you can’t find something, clean up.


The Happiness Project August 16, 2006

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