Chores and the marvel of working all day with the single goal of seeing no change

We all want our homes adequately contained, but it all comes down to one thing: how much time of your life should really be assigned to doing the same things over and over again?

Think about it: in a world that is all about progress, where all we care about is evolving change, the goal with chores at home is always to make sure everything stays as is. Couches pristine and ready for use, kitchen counters clean and suitable for cooking, fridge stacked with the weekly food, floors free of sticky spills, teenage beds clean of piles of books and computers.

Chores are one puzzling thing. Aside from the fact that they are repetitive, tedious, and hard work on both your mind and body, they are the only tasks we need to perform with the single goal of maintaining everything the way it was initially set up.

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There are three kinds of things that occupy your time and fill your life: 1). making things, 2). absorbing, learning or using things (or experiences), and 3). fixing things up.

Out of the three, those that require repetitive, never-ending mending, the chores that, once done, get all messed up, and you have to do them all over again, those are the ones that bother me most.

Subliminally, we’re primed since childhood with this oxymoronic task. We learn that leaving clothes on the floor is not a good idea because later you have to pick them up and put them back to where they belong. We learn that putting a hot pot on a wood table may cause irreparable damage. We learn not to put the nail-polish removal swab on the counter because it will discolour it. We learn not to go inside with muddy boots.

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As teenagers, we become maddened by the repetitiveness of scolding. As adults, we become maddened by the insubordination of our offspring or partners. Add that to our own faulty system, because let’s face it, we’re not perfect either, and a perfect storm ensues that is as cyclical as the mess itself.

Like the perfect crime, keeping a neat house takes a certain precision. Spatially, it requires elaborate design planning, foresight and machine-like assembly. On your part, it involves a series of almost mechanical moves from the second you enter the house or get up from a chair to the point when you go to bed at night.

Most house messes stem from moving around the home and using various objects. Essentially, if you stay put in one place and do not touch much, you may mess up your immediate surrounding, but the rest remains as is. Ok, I get it. To dissect it like this is pretty extreme and obvious, and now you think this is not going anywhere useful, but stay with me for a second:

We can posit that the least you move and the least you touch something, the least you create a mess in need of tidying up. Take the making of your bed in the morning: it is the first in a long and messy trail as you circulate about your home. Then the toothpaste tube with no cap, the toilet seat, towels on the floor, dishes in the sink and items spread about in the rush of getting out the door to go to work. And I only got through a couple of morning hours out of an entire day. Also, by extension, the more people in the house… well… you get the picture… No wonder some households can’t manage.

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So how do you get through? I won’t advise how to move less or control your own habits, but a lot can be preset to help you through the design of the home itself.

Remember Charlie Chaplin and his bed-making machine? With all the other devices? One of the most famous was the feeding machine that failed while inundated in audience laughter.

Think of your home as a series of stations. If you plan the areas in your home such that every one of them thrives on ease of maintenance, you’re halfway there minus the failures. A home should be designed as a minimal and organized system with perfectly located spots planned around easily putting things away.

Through design, storage components, easy-access features and smart detailing can inconspicuously morph with the structure of interior architecture and hide a lot of the daily mess. It can help you quickly cover at least 80% of it, thus making your home 80% neater!

I’ll take that!

This article first appeared in My 2 cents on design
how to curate a better lifestyle through design
part of HABITS \\ a DOCHIA FOCUS monthly lifestyle series

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