Clean freaks: They’re everywhere. And while their methods might lead to your madness, they do make some really good points. Take Monica Geller (a.k.a. “Monica” from Friends), for example. She liked things to be orderly, no matter what the cost. Decluttering for her was a science, and one that aggravated everyone around her. But let’s look at 10 rules of order from Monica herself. Following some of these might just change your life—or at least clear up that mess you haven’t tended to in ages.
1. Accept that cleaning is an inevitability
It’s like Monica said to Rachel when she decided to fend for herself: “Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You’re gonna love it.” Even though cleaning can be a chore, it’s a chore you must do.
2. Get every nook and cranny
Being proactive as a cleaner can seem unnecessary, but looking at the back of your closet can unearth old gems. So, dust back there and get things clean. Even if what you find isn’t something you need, you can still set it aside for donation. Do as Monica would do: “I need you to be careful and efficient. And remember: If I am harsh with you, it’s only because you’re doing it wrong.”
3. Set a timeline
So, you don’t want to dust, sweep or dig through your old crap? Well, you’re going to have to sometime. And when you do, give yourself a timeline. Don’t go into cleaning thinking you have to do all of the work in one day. Try tackling one or two rooms a day and dedicate that time to just cleaning. Procrastinating is something we do, but you’ll have time to check your phone or watch TV later. Monica knew all about keeping time and multi-tasking, no matter the situation. Whether it was preparing Thanksgiving dinner or learning to flirt, Monica made it work.
4. Keep a filing system
We all have hard-copy documents, and to avoid panic at tax time or those moments when you need government-issued materials, it’s best to have them safe and secure in one place. Monica’s view on this is extreme, but it’s worth taking note: “Why didn’t you make a copy and…and keep it in a fireproof box and keep it at least a hundred yards from the original?!” And who could forget the ribbon-drawer incident:
5. Let things go
We all have junk in our house. And if it isn’t junk, it’s stuff we’re not using or that just doesn’t fit us any more. That blazer from seven years ago? Set it free. If you’re Monica, you cut to the chase: “Okay, here’s the last of your boxes. I’m just going to label it ‘What were you thinking?'” Feel free to be much kinder to yourself, but not too kind since you’re going to want to actually declutter your home.
Seriously. If cleaning feels like soul-crushing work, you won’t do it. You need to reward your hard work with a break. You can pick up where you left off tomorrow.
7. Set realistic expectations
This is Monica on scheduling: “Guys, hurry up. The flight leaves in four hours. It could take time to get a taxi. There could be traffic. The plane could leave early. When we get to London, there could be a line at customs. Come on.” She prepares for every single scenario, which, while very Type A, could benefit you in the long run. This doesn’t mean you need to drill down to every worst-case scenario, but do thoughtfully think about what you can do with the limited time you have. If you do more, then great, but at least you kept your expectations reasonable. (Note: Standing up and spraying Febreze is unreasonable, in the sense that you are doing literally nothing.)
8. Be firm
Whether you’re cleaning up with a group or on your own, it’s best to stay firm. If you want things in certain places, make that known before you tackle a task. In the words of dear, old Monica, “Shut up and move my table back.” Everyone involved should be on the same page before things get moved around – and since you know the layout best, you make the rules and you stick to them. But there is being too militant, so dial everything back at least a couple of notches and you’ll be in a safer zone than you would have been. Seriously, don’t be hard on yourself and others, because the last thing you want is a cleaning coup d’etat on your hands.
Saying goodbye to things is hard, but holding on to things and accumulating more things makes you an, um…hoarder. Letting go of things you never use (or wear, or play with) any more is good for getting rid of glitter. You need to say goodbye, so long and farewell. It’s hard, and you might say “it’s the end of an era,” but change is good. Change is freeing.
10. Let others enjoy the fruits of your labour
They say a clean home is a happy home, and there’s a lot of truth to that. When you finish cleaning, take a moment to smugly bask in the glow of your newfound sense of accomplishment. Feels good, doesn’t it? Now, pay it forward. Take all those bags full of your old housewares and clothes to your local Value Village, clothing bank or second-hand shop, so someone else can put your former treasures to good use.