Permaculture Plus Houskeeping: Quick and Dirty Tips

If you're not feeling up to a massive permaculture design project, allow me to help you get some beauty rest. The easy but eye-opening tips just below are super actionable. They're quick to implement. And they'll drastically reduce the amount of clutter in your home.

If you follow these tips, your house will become calmer, cozier, and homey. Don’t confuse following quick and dirty tips with being a permaculture plus houskeeping designer - you won’t be doing that kind of rigorous design work. But you will see marked improvements with very little work, and what’s not to like about that? Laziness is my jam.

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Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Tip: Follow Paths of Desire

Mmmm, desire. *ahem* I mean… Um. OkaySo.

Don’t place objects where propriety or beauty dictates that they be kept. It’s time to do a bit of detective-work and experimentation. Follow this two-step process to determine where an object should be kept:

  1. Notice where people actually use those items
  2. Then designate a place for that item in that spot. For example, in my house:
  • We have a hamper by the front mail to accept junk mail
  • We have a hamper under my husband’s desk to collect the socks he wore at work
  • We have a basket on the sofa table for our remote control and game controllers
  • We have a hamper right by the washer to accept incoming dirty clothes

This method is very wu wei. It honors how people want to use their things. The pile of pencils on the television table is a sign that someone uses pencils near the TV - that’s their path of desire. So provide them with a little container for their pencils and put that container on the television stand.

This is similar to a method that I’ve heard of for figuring out how to arrange your furniture: throw a party. At parties, people tend to scoot chairs here and there, shift tables a few inches this way and that way, and generally move furniture and objects around until the room is convenient for them. Once the party is over, see what you can leave in place, and benefit from the unconscious wisdom of your out-sourced team of interior decorators.

Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Tip: Use One-Step Containment

Foster one-step putting away methods. You want to be able to put things away in one quick motion. That means removing all barriers between you and your goal of putting stuff away. That means that you should nix lids and doors. From now on, use containment devices that facilitate one-step putting-away: open shelves, caddies, baskets, and bins. You’ll be amazed at how much more likely you will be to actually return items to their designated homes.

Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Design Tip: Clean As You Go

If there’s one habit that I encourage you to deliberately cultivate, it’s the habit of cleaning as you go. When I was a child, learning how to bake, I learned to put away each ingredient after I was done using it.

I am not at all sanctimonious about this. I am very surprised. I am not a natural tidier. But somehow, I have a compulsive need to put away the flour as soon as I’ve dip-level-poured it into the batter. It makes cleaning up much easier.

And it’s completely unconscious. I have no idea that I’m doing it. It doesn’t sap my energy, deplete my willpower, or pain me emotionally. I just look up after the cookies are in the oven and realize that my counter tops are clear of baking ingredients - they’re back in the pantry.

All of housework can be like this. Unobtrusive, unnoticeable. And done.

I suggest that you cultivate one tiny clean-as-you go habit every couple of weeks. Break it down into little, concrete actions. For example, you might develop an unconscious habit of washing your coffee cup after you’re done with it. Or you might train yourself to unconsciously put something away every time you walk from one room to another. (This is easier if you know where everything goes.)

It’s a sweet thing to do for yourself.

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Permaculture Plus Houskeeping Footnotes!

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Ready to dive in?

But don’t do it by yourself. Do it with a friend!