Released this week, Rachel Hoffman’s new book is trying to get us organised one swear word at a time. “Yes, it involves some yelling and swearing,” she says of Unf*ck Your Habitat: You’re Better Than Your Mess (Macmillan, 2017). “One of our taglines is, ‘Terrifying motivation for lazy people with messy homes’, but it’s so much more than that… it’s about motivation, support and accountability,” says Rachel.
“There’s a weird sort of void in the ‘taking care of your physical surroundings’ stuff, in the archaic ‘how to keep a home’ and ‘how to be domestic’ arenas. It tends to ignore single people, or people without kids, or students, or people with pets, or people with roommates, or people with full-time jobs, or classes, or other sh*t going on. It assumes everyone is married with kids and one partner is around a lot of the time, and has a lot of time to devote to ‘housekeeping’.”
The book? She says it’s about doing what you can when you can, five, 10 or 20 minutes at a time. Then back to normal life. Here’s a quick extract about using your leisure and waiting time wisely.
Use Your Leisure Time Wisely
About that Netflix thing. We’re extremely lucky to live in a technologically advanced, highly mobile era, but these privileges can be an incredibly effective distraction, allowing us to lose hours at a time to something that’s caught our interest. Do something while you’re catching up on your series. Fold clothes and pair up all of your socks. Bring the laptop into the kitchen and clear off a counter. Find a 20-minute podcast you like and use it as a soundtrack while you catch up on dishes. You don’t have to stop your life in order to clean; you can integrate a little bit of house work into what you’re already doing. When you’re trying to incorporate a small cleaning session into each day, you may find it helpful to get your 20 minutes in as soon as you get home, before you change out of your outside clothes and while you’re still in a “working” mindset. Once your mind transitions to “I’m home, I’m relaxed, and I’m going to be living on the couch in my underwear until I go to bed,” it’s really difficult to transition back into “Maybe I should load the dishwasher.” Figure out when you’re likely to be able to squeak a tiny bit of productivity out of your tired self, and make it a point to do something when you can.
Use Your Waiting Time Efficiently
We all have short spans of time during our day when we’re stuck waiting for something else to finish before we can move on to the next thing. Learning how to use that time instead of letting it pass is a great habit to get into. While your coffee is brewing in the morning, unload the dishwasher from last night. Once you put dinner on to simmer or bake, wash all of your prep dishes so there’s less to do later. Does your shower take a while to heat up? Use that dead time (and a sponge soaked with the not-hot-enough water) to wipe down the bathroom counters. While the micro wave is going, wash a few dishes. Every little bit helps, and it’s time that you’d just be wasting by staring off into space anyway. Might as well be productive, right? There are a million little things we can do while we’re waiting on other things. What’s great about almost all of them is that they’re really easy, low-investment, low-commitment things that still make a big difference. Once you start doing this, you’ll find yourself surprised by how little time it actually takes to do things compared to how much time you’re assuming it will. Get into the habit of not staying idle while life annoyingly takes time to happen around you.
Extract from Unf*ck Your Habitat by Rachel Hoffman, RRP$19.99, Macmillan Australia, out now.