The TWO Tasks that Will Get and Keep Your Home Under Control Leave a comment

I’ve seen the meme going around. It’s some version of this statement: I always blamed my messy house on a lack of time. Now I know that was never the reason.

Messy House_ Do these two things every day. dishes and pick up at

Welcome to my world.

The bewilderment a lot of people feel because their house isn’t any cleaner even though they’re home all the time is what drove me to start this blog back in ’09.

When I started, the blog was anonymous and temporary. I was embarrassed and confused because my house was always a mess no matter what I did. Now it’s 2020, and sharing what I’ve learned about how to bring a home out of Disaster Status and keep it under control is my full-time gig.

I have bad news and good news.

The bad news is that there isn’t a magical solution. Being in your house doesn’t make it clean. Cleaning it makes it clean.

The good news is that there is a real-world solution. I’ve figured it out and boiled it down and shared it over and over again here.

Today I’m sharing the two small tasks that make the biggest difference. If you do these two things every day (or even almost every day), your house will improve.

I promise.

Do your dishes.

I run my dishwasher at night and empty it in the morning (with “morning” being a fluid term these days). And many days, lately, I run my dishwasher twice.

Do your dishes (whether you have a dishwasher or not) every day, at some point during the day, and after a week you’ll figure out the time of day that works best in your home.

Just don’t give up after the first day. If you haven’t been doing your dishes daily, that first day will involve catching up. The time you spend doing dishes on Day One is no indication of how long it will take you to do your dishes on the following days.

Do a Five Minute Pickup.

I really do mean five minutes. And I really do mean a pickup.

I’m not talking about a speed clean. Don’t stick everything in an empty laundry basket to put away later.

Set a timer for five minutes and start picking things up and putting them away.

It really is that simple.

But I completely understand if your brain won’t accept that it’s actually that simple. I’ve written about every objection, every but-what-about and every she-has-no-idea-what-my-house-is-like thought you could think in my books and other blog posts and I’ve talked for more than 100 hours on my podcast. (Not 100+ hours on the subject of five minute pickups, but it has come up a lot.)

Here, though, in this one little blog post, I’ll share the basics.

  • Set the timer for five minutes and stop after five minutes. If you keep going, fine. But don’t say you’re going to do five minutes and then feel guilty for stopping after five minutes.
  • Five minutes will make an impact. Five minutes every day (or almost every day) will make a big impact after multiple days.
  • Do a five minute pickup whenever you think about doing a five minute pickup.
  • Start in the most visible areas of your home.
  • Remind yourself that it’s worth teaching family members this “skill” even though teaching it isn’t fun at all. Once they get it, the impact multiplies. Example: 5 minutes times four people equals 20 minutes of impact on your home.
  • Outlaw pooping during pickup time. According to your unique understanding of your unique family members, make them go before or after. I recommend after because the people who will claim the need to poop tend to be the people who can draw it out with the hope that you’ll forget or go ahead without them.

Is it really this simple to have a beautifully clean home?

Hahahahaha!!! No. Oh, no way.

There’s so much more to do to have a beautifully clean home.

But if you want a beautifully clean home, this is where you start. No home will ever be beautifully clean without doing the dishes.

Every home that’s beautifully clean has people living in it who put things away.

And even though there’s no magical solution, there is magic that happens when you do these two things.

Your house will look so much better. JUST from these two tasks. I mean it. I wouldn’t have believed it either, but I experienced it. I’d lived 35 years of my life thinking the answer to my messy house was a week with nothing else to do so I could clean it perfectly and then start maintaining.

That never worked.

Only when I started doing small things every day did I start to see real change in my home. I was surprised, too, so don’t feel bad if you’re skeptical.


Need more words to help this make sense?

I’m sharing some links to places where I go into this and answer every single one of your but-what-abouts on this subject. I was/am the Queen of Excuses so I’ve had (and had to bust through) every single one.

If you want the full guide instead of posts here and there, you need my book: How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind. This site is my Slob Lab where I’ve experimented and worked things out and you’ll see that in the posts here. The book is where I teach you how to apply the process to your home. In the book, there’s a 28 day plan that talks you through building four basic habits that will transform your home.

Five Truths about a Clean Kitchen (That Are Still True Even if You Don’t Have a Dishwasher)

The Layers of a Clean House (this concept is key for understanding why these things HAVE to be done daily for you to ever get the house truly clean)

Help for the Person Who (Supposedly) Can’t Be Helped

Family Pick-Up Time (Or The Benefits of Random Intentionality)

244: The Basics – Getting Started or Getting Back Podcast

Find out what in the world this site is and how to use it here.



Two things when you have a messy house do the dishes every day and 5 minute pick up at


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