Sunday, April 17, 2011

OCD Quick Tip: Clearing Car Clutter

I know my usual schtick is about the internal stuff; staying sane in a crazy busy life and all that.
BE -> DO -> HAVE

That said, although I'm no "Get-It-Done Guy" or "Tip Junkie", I still like to give some good OCD "DO" pointers now and then.

This is for you if you could feed a small country with the Cheerios, french fries and other snacks on the floor of your minivan crossover vehicle.

Or, it looks like you've been living in your car surviving only on coffee and fast food.

Or, your "remote office" has four wheels and a free form filing system complete with cup holders.

Or, if you actually could live and work in your car without needing any external food, paper or clothing for several days.

If this is you or you know anyone who fits one (or more) of the above descriptions, there is hope.

The key thing to remember is that it's all about routine.

Yes there are fancy bins and "systems" for keeping the car tidy, but my experience is that these only serve to create more nooks and crannies for the junk.

Personally, it helps me to have a frequent trigger for getting the crap out of the car on a habitual basis.

For example, sometimes I stop at Dunkin Donuts to get a coffee for my ride to work.  As I approach the drive-thru, I stop at the convenient giraffe-like barrels to discard old coffee cups or plastic bottles I may have collected in prior days.

When I get gas, I empty the car of any other trash.  Lately it's LOTS of tissues thanks to all the sniffles going around.   If the kids are in the car, they are part of the process.  While I am pumping gas (and using more tissues to dry my tears over the $4 per gallon), they unbuckle and go on "the hunt."  Sometimes I give prizes.  If I'm not in a huge rush, I shake out the floor mats real quick as well. 

When we get home, the kids know they must carry in everything which belongs to them.  This includes artwork, bags, half-empty (or half-full) juice boxes, sweaters, toys, balls, shoes, cups, hats and fencing swords.  Everything. 

Just like the toys and stuff on the floor at home:  If I am the one who has to pick up an item, I get to determine it's destiny.

My poor son has learned the hard way that I'm not bluffing.  (Though I do feel just a tiny bit guilty for throwing away his precious snowman picture, he is exponentially more diligent ever since.)

If you don't have kids, then parent yourself and do a quick "clean sweep" every time you go into the house or the office.  What's ten extra seconds a day towards respecting such an investment?

Like life, you may not be able to prevent the crap from getting in there, but good habits and healthy routines will keep it from piling up and creating an overwhelming mess.

Good luck!

Photo credit for "trash car": Robyn Miller from Dinosaurs and Robots
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Anonymous said...

Hi Charlene,
I really like your website.

Charlene said...

Thanks Chris!!

waytenmom said...

Dear Charlene, have you been peeking in my car? I need to have the inner fortitude to do the tough love with my son, whose "stuff" occupies every inch of our home. Drives me nuts!! Thanks for these motivational thoughts!

Charlene said...

waytenmom - Okay, you caught me! (LOL!) Good luck with the tough love - it does pay off!!

Le'Ann Ruggles said...

Love this! I've managed to get the house clutter under control except in my teenager's room and the office (husband's lair). With those, I have learned it's easier to just keep the door shut.

Heather said...

What a great reminder! My car gets even worse because I have to get 2 kids, whatever I buy and myself up 2 flights of stairs, so the extra stuff that accumulates is often forgotten. You left me inspired, I'm going to leave early to get my daughter and clean out the car before we go to the school!

NANCY said...

Hello! I'm following you from the SippyCups&ClothBums bloghop and hope that you'll follow me back!


Laura @ Inspiration For Moms said...

Great tips for keeping the car clean!! I am definitely going to try to put them into my daily routine!

Stopping by from the Mom Blog Monday! :)

webb said...

Goods ideas all. If you don't have an actual trash can in the car, you might consider that. It serves as a corral for a lot of that stuff.

Sarah said...

I knew someone could really use this. There was no room to put my foot in her car when we carpooled. Sticky stuff everywhere, and she didn't even have kids! Too bad I don't know where she is now.

LimitlessLiving said...

I love your blog! I'll definitely have to try and dejunk my car when I stop for gas.
It reminds me of a freind of mine whose car really was disgusting. If I wanted to hop in I had to clear the seat and make foot room and I always left my handbag on my lap rather than try and put it anywhere else. And yet she was super pulled together when it came to her appearance. Never could understand it. LOL

OneMommy said...

I've started that same routine. I try to collect junk that I see in the front seat when my husband is driving and bag it up to be pitched. The back seat, full of Cheerios and the like I need to work on... I like the idea of cleaning it out when I get gas. I'll have to give that a try!

Alison said...

I only recently learned the 'tidying up while pumping gas' trick. It's a fantastic idea. Why it's taken me this long to cotton on to it I have no clue. We are working on the ''clearing out the car every time we leave it but that's a work in progress. Usually it happens when I have no lunchbags to pack the next day's lunch into. Nice post!

Deb Chitwood said...

Great ideas, Charlene! Like you, I find routines to be essential. helped me a lot in that area. I think I'll start doing the gas station tidy-up, too! Deb @

Kim Bauer said...

Hi Charlene,

I recently received a “Versatile Blogger Award. (Actually, I received one from Deb Chitwood). Funny that she is the comment above me here. Anyway...

Part of the fun is paying it forward to 15 other bloggers that I admire. I selected your blog because over the last year, since I launched my site and jumped feet first into blogging, I have often read your posts and found your site inspirational. I realize this is not a “huge industry award” but bloggers give a lot and often receive very little recognition. I thought you might appreciate some kudos.

You can stop by my site by clicking on this link. If you decide you want to pay it forward, please do. If not, just know that there are many people out there who love what you do!
All the Best!
Kim Bauer

Lizzymc said...

"convenient giraffe-like barrels", that's awesome. what a great idea to do a clean out while getting gas. My family is going on our first (4.5hr) road trip soon and the gas station tip will be a great way to stretch out everyone's legs and give them something to do. Thank you, Charlene! I signed up for your RSS feed. Great blog.

Sistergirl said...

Love it! Everyone seem to have the car clutter issue.

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