Life is so much easier when you clean up after yourself. In the past, I’ve cautioned about the 2-minute rule, which states that if you can do something in 2 minutes, to just go ahead and do it. There are times when this is not a good plan. Here’s that blog post, if you missed it.
But nothing in life is black and white, and there are times when the 2-minute rule makes great sense. Cleaning up after yourself is one of those times. With the exception of pet accidents on non-porous surfaces, nothing gets easier to clean if you wait. I’ll admit some things need an intermediate step, such as letting dishes soak in soapy water. But even in that instance, the earlier you can take that first step, the better.
A single mess is not nearly so overwhelming as several days, weeks, months, (or more), of accumulated messes.
When you clean up after yourself…
- It’s easier to remember where the items go back to.
- You prevent damage from moisture, grit and stains.
- Important papers don’t get coffee spilled on them.
- You deter bugs and rodents.
- You bring closure to an activity, which frees you up to move on to something else.
- You have a clear surface, which allows freedom to work and create.
- You reduce visual overwhelm, which helps you to think more clearly.
- You can evaluate in real-time whether it makes sense to keep the items you’re putting away, and if not, you can de-clutter as you go.
Even if your project is not done and you want to leave it out so you can return to it easily, you can still clean up by removing trash and used-up supplies, and ensuring the remaining project materials are safe from anything that might disturb them, such as a gust of wind, a rambunctious cat or a well-intentioned office-mate.
When you don’t have the bandwidth to do anything else, just try to keep things from getting worse. Commit to cleaning up after yourself, and see what a difference it can make!