Source: Hyperbole & A Half
Keeping any abode clean is a full-time job in and of itself. The bigger that abode gets, the more of a job it becomes. Martha Stewart suggests instituting a "tidy room" clause: whatever room you enter, you are not allowed to leave until everything is put away. Basically, if you enter a room in your house that is all sorts of disorganized and messy, good luck making new plans anytime soon. She even suggests giving clean rooms a once over to make sure everything is in its rightful place.
And to that I say: sure, just as soon as a adopt a brand new personality.
I'd love to be that type of person who never lets anything accumulate for long (especially if it's a room I go in). It would be great if I had the mental fortitude to make sure every room I enter is clean before I leave it. But I'm not. And if I tried to implement that rule, I know I'd burn out (and my husband would follow it exactly once). I'd last a whopping week or so before I become like the Hyperbole and a Half girl, meekly asking if she really has to clean all the things.
So I have a new rule in place: the "one item" rule. This is especially true for rooms that seem to get way too cluttered for their own good (like my dining room table). Essentially, before I leave a room, I make sure at least one thing is put away. Usually that thing is whatever I was using at the time. Sometimes it's not. And sometimes that one bit of tidying is enough to get me to tidy up a lot more than just one item (apparently even housework isn't spared from the laws of physics. An object in motion stays in motion...).
This really works for someone as scatterbrained like me, who will enter a room and forget why she went in there. I might not remember why I went into the bedroom, but that pair of jeans is now in the hamper, so the trip wasn't completely for naught.
I might not have all my baseboards scrubbed and shelves dusted by 9 a.m., but I am keeping my head above water when it comes to keeping the house nice in the midst of school and work (and my delusions of making it as a writer). And that's really all anyone can ask for.