Messy House? Throw a Party!

Inviting friends over for dessert night finally forced me to get organized. My clean, uncluttered house was its own sweet reward.

A couple discussing how one of them was recently diagnosed with ADHD
Couple dancing at a party

The disorganization in my home was the number-one annoyance in my life. It was more annoying than the cheery “Have you dined with us before?” that waiters ask, as if you couldn’t figure out how to order from a menu.

And so, for the 98th time, I carped about the disarray to my coach, Jen. Her response? “Throw a party!”

She said what? I thought the only appropriate event to throw was an intervention. My tax paperwork balanced on the arm of a chair near my desk, which was heaped with so many piles I dared not place another thing on top of any of them. A sweater hung over a shelf of my bookcase. It didn’t land there during a torrid tryst (unfortunately!). I had put it there to remind myself that I wanted to give it away. As the Fly Lady often says, I had a bad case of CHAOS — “Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.”

Reason to Clean

Jen’s intent was to give me a goal to reach for. If I picked up my stuff, I could have people over, something I wanted to do. If I know that company’s coming, my motivation to clean, organize, and de-clutter blossoms.

I hadn’t thrown a party in a couple of years, so Jen’s idea was enticing. But remembering the vodka-tonic-fueled, late-evening chorus of “Wonderwall” at my last soiree, I decided to plan something on a smaller scale. Before I could give the matter much thought, I e-mailed a couple of friends to come over for dessert on a weeknight a month from that day.

[Free Guide: Organize Everything Today!]

As the days and weeks passed between the decision and D-Day itself, I had the best intentions to prep for the event. Every time I had a free evening or Sunday, I thought about what I could do to get ready for dessert night. I imagined myself shredding extraneous papers, picking out recipes, and finally putting pictures in the frames I’d purchased. But other diversions tempted me: riding my bike through the countryside, seeing a show, hanging out with friends, and catching up on the whereabouts of the cast of The Facts of Life on Wikipedia.

Leaving Things Until the End — Of Course

On dessert day, I called in sick. Sick of work, that is. Sometimes you have to listen to your gut. I happily spent the day mopping, baking, cleaning, and prettying things up. I enjoyed every minute of it. But I know that I wouldn’t have enjoyed doing all of this on a non-work day. Being home when I wasn’t supposed to be made the work much more enjoyable.

Dessert night was a hit. My friends assumed that I had bought the desserts, and they were bowled over when they found out that I made the confections — three types of desserts — in my now-neat kitchen. As we chowed down on sugary treats and gossiped and laughed, I knew that all of my effort had paid off.

Gearing up for the event was an excellent shot of motivation to stay on top of my housekeeping. So far, I’ve been doing OK. When I come home at the end of the day, I like seeing less stuff sitting around. To keep things from getting chaotic, I aim to spend 20 minutes a day on housekeeping, except for today. It is my reward for throwing such a sweet, organized dessert party.

[Slideshow: 13 Clutter Hacks for the Easily Overwhelmed]

This story was excerpted from