We all know the feeling, finding out at the last minute that you will have an extra passenger in the car and not having a chance to clean out the clutter first. It’s embarrassing.
This happened to me on one rather memorable occasion. I needed to head off to a meeting for work and was just about to get in my car when a colleague suggested that we should go to the meeting together. It was a sensible suggestion. This would have been a little nerve wracking for me anyway as I find driving other people a little intimidating, even though I consider myself a good driver and have never had so much as a speeding ticket, but when the passenger seat is littered in snack papers, children’s hair ties and old water bottles, it’s 100 times worse, believe me.
As nice as it would be to always have at least 24 hours notice on these things and therefore the opportunity to do a spot of tidying up in advance, in life that rarely happens. Things get sprung upon us when we least expect them and we are seldom ready. I would like to propose that if we add a few simple routines to our lives, we can be ready for any eventuality.
Now some of you may be wondering what is so bad about an untidy car. Well, it may be an overreaction but I believe that things like that make a lasting impression on people no matter what we like to think about it and frankly I would prefer to give a different impression.
So what can we do about it?
We could have a big clean out of the car once a week, on Saturday maybe. That could work, unless of course you need the car clean on Friday afternoon or there’s a trip to the beach planned on Sunday and nothing gets cleaned up after it. A whole week with smelly beach towels on the back seat will probably seem like a very long time when you are the one stuck in traffic with them.
A different way to think about this is to use the ‘Little bit often’ principle. Just like brushing your teeth for a short amount of time twice a day will keep them healthy and doing a big brush once a week will not, it is the small maintenance cleaning done each day that will make the difference to the inside of the car. Make it a rule that everything you put in the car in the morning will be taken out in the evening. Following this rule means that there is no chance for a pile of stuff to grow, junk or otherwise.
This applies to children too. In our house they are notorious for leaving their things in the car. If Dad picks them up from school one day and Mum is taking them the next, you can guarantee that one of them has left their school bag or shoes in Dad’s car the day before. This of course becomes a big problem if Dad has left early for work. If the system is set in place that whenever they get out of the car, all of their things get out with them, these problems are less likely to occur.
Of course to begin with, depending on the severity of the problem, you might need to devote some time to a big clean out. If this is possible for you, remove everything from the car, give the car a vacuum and dust and then return only those items that are complete necessities. If time does not allow this, the simple step of taking out 1 extra thing per day as you leave the car will soon have the problem solved. Once you begin, you may well find that the momentum created will inspire you to get this going a little faster and before you know it, you will have a nice tidy car to work with.
As with anything worth doing, it will take a little time to develop the habit and you may find that you have set backs. Never mind, just dust yourself off, get back up and try again. Have a look at “The risk of wanting everything achieved yesterday” for some further thoughts on this.
Small tasks completed regularly will achieve more than one mammoth effort rarely made.
What do you do every day that makes your life a little easier?