STYLE Savvy: Small Steps for Keeping Things Company-Ready


There’s something about writing these posts that keeps me honest. After writing last week’s post, I took action in three clutter-catcher areas, restoring open space in less than fifteen minutes.

That felt good.

Sometimes, the keys to keeping a space neat lie in not letting it get messy (again) in the first place. Unfortunately, that’s a whole lot harder to do than it sounds. As we get busy, stuff collects. We get new things to add to our collections. We drop what we’re holding and move on to the next thing or leave things out so we’ll remember to do them. When company’s coming, we stuff just one more thing into an already full drawer or stash it somewhere “safe,” then run out of time before we can clean up what we’ve left behind.

So, how do we do it? How do we prevent piles and keep our homes company ready even when life gets hectic? Here are a few ideas to keep you moving in that direction.

Know your trouble spots & prioritize. Which is easiest to keep under control? Which bugs  you the most when it’s out of control? If several areas have accumulated piles, where do you start?

This analysis was my starting point last week. Fully aware that I could easily restore order to several small  places if I let another one go just a little bit longer, I started with the spots that were easiest to get under control, and was rewarded with beautiful, clear, open space. I could actually feel the relief.

Photograph 030 by Lauren Mancke found on

Photograph 030 by Lauren Mancke found on

Once it’s neat, make it pretty. Maybe even take a picture. When a newly-organized space looks nice, we’re more motivated to keep it looking that way. That’s also one of the reasons that form and function aren’t the only considerations when we’re choosing organizers. If we like the container we use for reasons besides its basic shape and utility, we’re more likely to use it. And that photo you took? A reminder of how things can look when we use the systems we’ve put in place.

Clean up as you walk past. Chances are there’s at least one thing in every pile that has a home you can access in ten seconds or less. Grab these as you walk by and put them where they belong. Then, when you have time to devote to restoring order, the pile is smaller and requires less time.

Finally, consider the “one thing in/one thing out” rule. I don’t remember where I learned this, but I do remember latching onto it very quickly. When you get something new, get rid of something old. That keeps the basic quantity of “stuff” in your house relatively stable, and helps to eliminate that feeling of being overrun by possessions.

I dream of a day when my house will always be company-ready. Today is not that day, but I’m okay with that because I know I’m moving in the right direction.

Copyright 2016 Lisa Hess


About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.

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