Whether you're overly neat or very messy, this tip from reader Elanor will help you focus on the things that are important (like work) while keeping your house clean enough that you don't stress out later on.
Keeping the house perfectly spic and span is not only unlikely, but also kinda Discovery Health Special nutso. But letting it slip into housing code violation territory is a definite possibility when you're busy, or, you know, lazy. How to stay neatness motivated without becoming obsessive? Plan on keeping your space in a 20-minutes-to-clean state.
Basically, picture the person whose house-neatness standards you'd like to meet (your boss, your OCD uncle Norman, your holier-than-thou ex), and always keep your house clean enough that you could get it visitor-ready in 20 minutes. By sticking to this rule you won't shy away from last-minute invites home or potential embarrassment at an unscheduled drop-in. Most visitors can be put off for 20 minutes, and if not, hey, your house is clean enough — it only needs 20 minutes of work. It's a great way to evaluate your own standards, release yourself from perfectionism and avoid creating an unscalable mountain of mess.