I’ve been corresponding with a web-friend who wants her daughters to clean their rooms.
Here’s my advice. Feel free to add yours, disagree with mine, or try something new. I know that there is no evidence that a clean room is better for any activity than a messy one. But we want what we want – even when it makes no sense to other people.
The first thing that needs cleaning up is the mindset.
What does it mean to have things stay where you put them? Why is it important?
Is it equally important for everything, or only for some things?
Ultimately messy rooms are messy because the person who made the mess is creating a different type of order. One in which things stay where they are put.
There are several approaches to this type of order.
Some are simple.
Hold an item for at least a minute before putting it down. Ask: Where would it be most convenient and useful to find this item again? Not just in the next day, but over the next month. Will you want it a month from now? If you don't know, make a note to ask that question again in a month.
Is this item like other items I want to find again? Where are the other items? Could these items be grouped? Perhaps in a box, or on a shelf?
Is this item something I could deal with right now and be done with it? Is it worth reorganizing my next hour so I can get this item off my list? If not, when is a good time to deal with this thing once and for all?
Each item has its own logic, its own story. Each item has a purpose.
Cleaning up seems to be a purpose, but it's not truly related to the reason the mess happened in the first place.
once a mess has happened, each item can be reconsidered in its own turn. Pick a location -- say stuff on a dresser top -- there is probably a logic behind why these items were grouped there. Is each item most useful in that location? If not, where would it be more useful?
-- anyway these are approaches I think are worth considering.