The Mouse-track Method of Cleaning Up House

If you do not have a set method of cleaning house, a system of some sort, you are probably exactly where we are most weeks. Some things are okay but underlying that there is a general mess and you have no idea how to tackle it.

boring white room with dining room furniture
Do you ever think that nobody really lives in those boring white places you see in magazines?

This is one method I use to overcome the overwhelming feeling that nothing except a major demolition is going to get the problem fixed. I call it the Mouse-track Method. We find it especially useful because stuff tend to accumulate in corners.

You do it like this:

First decide on a point of origin. This is your safe zone to which you will return once you are overwhelmed. For me it is my bed. But it could also be your front door, back door or any other significant marker in the house.

Secondly you set a timer. Ten minutes are good. You can do a lot in ten minutes. Much more than you think. And doing a lot more than you think is the goal that you can only reach if you manage to trick your mind to not focus on the overwhelming load of cleaning up to be done.

Thirdly you work from your starting point, along the wall and to the corner and back. The way that a mouse would run, along the skirting. You clean up whatever you find along the way. Put stuff away, tidy up and if you can wipe and dust.

Starting at my bed that means stacking the books I’m reading, taking away whatever accumulates in the night and tossing abandoned socks in the wash.

Fourthly, when the timer goes of decide if you have the energy to continue or are you done (or out of time). If you still have energy and time set a new timer and go again. From the first corner to the next.

Rinse and repeat until you run out of steam.

Some more notes

If you get to a wall that takes a couple of seconds to do, which you might once you reach a passage or something, then go on to the next wall.

If you continue for a number of sessions you might reach an outside door. Skip over the door and continue inside or slip out and tidy the front porch, weed a flowerbed or sweep the courtyard.

Our place is built with outside walls so I can continue along going out the front door and eventually coming back in the back door — doing half the house. To do the other side of the house I would have to start somewhere else such as at the fridge. That would take me the other way around.

It is unlikely to complete a circle in a day, so at some point you will have to stop. You can then continue next time where you left of or start again from your safe spot. Either way you will get a lot tidied up, especially corners you would normally ignore. Combine this with other strategies and the whole house should be less of a mess.